We’ve all belted along, at one—probably drunken—point in our lives to the immortal words of Meatloaf: “I would do anything for love, but I won’t do that.”
That the song has become so indelible is likely owed to the fact that we can all sort of relate.
We’ve all been gobsmacked and twitterpated and been moved to do all kinds of insane things for love… but we all have a line. A new reality series on Oxygen, My Crazy Love, however, proves that, for some of us, that line is a lot farther away than might be wise.
For example, I’m pretty sure one thing Meatloaf wouldn’t do for love is pretend to be deaf. Or pierce his ear with a safety pin. Or commit a crime. All of which, among other humiliating acts, are recounted in My Crazy Love.
The half-hour anthology series, which airs Tuesday nights at 10 p.m. ET, features confessionals from ordinary people who have done extraordinary—and, arguably, really dumb—things for love. Their stories of emotional trauma are interspliced with stylized reenactments of the embarrassing episodes, creating the ultimate cringe TV.
Reenactment reality TV is more popular than ever on cable, with series like I Didn’t Know I Was Pregnant and Sex Sent Me to the ER serving as frequent, irresistible destinations for even the most seasoned of channel surfers. But while those shows encourage the audience to gawk at things they can’t comprehend—seriously, you didn’t know you were pregnant?—My Crazy Love is, for better or worse, relatable to all of us. Or at least all of us who may have at one time pretended to be vegetarian, said they graduated from an Ivy League university, or told an innocent white lie to impress a crush.
The fun of My Crazy Love, however, is that we can all feel smug feeling like, whatever we’ve done, it’s nowhere near as bonkers or ill-advised as what the people on the series have done.
Take Katie Hannigan, for example, who tells her story in Tuesday night’s episode. Hannigan pretended to be a basketball pro in order to impress a hot guy she had a crush on—only she had never played basketball. When he invited her to play in a charity game, she got knocked unconscious when he passed her the ball.
“I didn’t think it would work out at all,” Hannigan told me, when I asked her if she was out of her mind for thinking that she’d pull off her lie. “But it’s that thing when you tell one lie and it gets worse and worse. I knew in the back of my mind there was no way I’d get away with it.” But how quickly we’re able to fool ourselves. “And then I started going to the gym to practice and thought, ‘How hard could it be?’”
The delusion didn’t even end after she got knocked out. “He was kind of like cradling me,” she remembers. “I thought maybe something was going to happen. In my delirious state, I thought, ‘Are we going to kiss?’”
They did not kiss. Quite the opposite, actually—she could feel him physically recoil and she, mortified, tried to explain why she had lied and realized she sounded absolutely insane. By the time his girlfriend—which Hannigan didn’t know about—walked over, it was all over.
“If I had just approached him in the first place or been more open, I wouldn’t have had to go through all that trouble for nothing,” Hannigan says.
But at least she didn’t nearly die.
That’s what happened to Leigh Anne Richman when she tried to transform herself from a high school study rat to a punk skater to ingratiate herself to the school’s emo bad boy.
She committed so fully to the grungy clothes, dark eyeliner, and shoulder-shrugging attitude so far removed from her typical goody-two-shoes nature that her mother staged an intervention, fearful that drugs were involved. The makeover also apparently failed to ring true for a group of goth girls, who bullied her when she went to her first punk-skater party with her new look.
“They were like, ‘Leigh Anne Richman, is that you? What a poser. What are you doing here? You’re a straight-A student,’” Richman remembers. “It was like Mean Girls. ‘Do you have any tattoos? Do you even have anything pierced?’”
Feeling embarrassed in front of her crush and emboldened to prove her new persona wasn’t a sham, she grabbed a giant safety pin off a backpack and shoved it through her earlobe—no ice, no alcohol, no sanitization. After the blinding pain subsided, she realized that her crush was nowhere to be found.
She wandered the house party to search for him, finally finding him in a bedroom… making out with her best friend—her best friend, who, by the way, did not invest a brand new wardrobe, learn how to skateboard, or shove a safety pin through her ear in order to impress him.
Worse, when Richman woke up the next morning, her entire ear was purple. She had low-grade blood poisoning in her ear from the pin she used to pierce it. Five years later, she tells me, her ear still throbs when it’s cold out.
“I almost died in the name of love,” she laughs.
But not every story on My Crazy Love involves injury. (Unless, of course, you count a broken heart.)
There’s Corey Roberts, for example, who fell hard for a girl named Lucia from his trivia team, who had just broken up with her boyfriend. One night Roberts walked Lucia back to her car and realized, basically, that it was a piece of crap. It was an old, rusted AMC Pacer that was missing, among other things, a fuel door.
“So instead of saying, ‘Lucia, I really like you let’s get a hamburger,’ I thought I’d win this girl over by buying her a part of her car,” Roberts says. “That’s how all the greats did it, right?”
Of course, spare parts for junky old cars are hard to come by, and Roberts had exhausted himself searching high and low for a new fuel door. Then one day he saw another Pacer in the parking lot of a chicken joint. In a fleeting moment of bad judgment, he decided to steel the fuel door off the car and almost did—before the car’s owner, a giant, beefy Eastern European man, saw him.
“I wasn’t quite begging for mercy,” Roberts remembers. “But I tried to reason with the man.”
Several threats and some negotiation eventually led to Roberts agreeing to tutor the man’s son in math—he is a math teacher—in exchange for the part. When Roberts finally presented Lucia with the new fuel door, however, not only did she seem to not really know what a fuel door was (join the club, Lucia), but she had recently gotten back with—and engaged to—her ex-boyfriend.
At least Roberts’ student passed his math test…
Now, it must be asked, what the hell were these people thinking when they did all of this?
“Looking back, I’m like, ‘I’m insane,’” Richman says. “I’m a very smart and together person. But at the same time, I think that moment at my life proved to me that I am a person that has that much heart.”
Hannigan thinks that pretending to be a basketball player was a symptom of a larger confidence issue. “I think that if somebody judges a false representation of yourself, they’re not really judging who you are and it makes it easier to put yourself out there,” she says. “It’s like when I’d visit a girlfriend who lives in Vegas and I’d introduce myself to guys, ‘Hi, I’m Katie. I’m a dancer.’ There’s something thrilling about that.”
And also something a little crazy.