Imagine you're an accomplished, attractive 41-year-old single woman who is eager to start a family. In 2020, there are options available: You could look into adoption or a sperm donor, or you could keep swiping in hopes of finding the ideal partner and co-parent.
Or, if you're Kristy Katzmann, there's reality TV.
She is the star of "Labor of Love," a new dating show that premiered Thursday on Fox. It follows Katzmann as she dates 15 men with the goal of selecting one to be the father of her child. Think of it as "The Bachelorette" set to the rhythm of a ticking biological clock.
Kristin Davis -- the actress who played Charlotte York, a character who followed a circuitous path to motherhood on "Sex and the City" -- plays the role of host and confidant. At the end of each episode, she and Katzmann review her suitors using an app. Unsuitable mates are dispatched with a singularly brutal catchphrase: "I don't see us starting a family together."
There are the customarily elaborate reality-TV dates involving chocolate-covered strawberries, glamping and fireworks. But there are also challenges designed to reveal each man's strengths and weaknesses as a potential parent and partner -- emphasis on "reveal."
In Thursday's premiere, the "fathers to be" are introduced to Katzmann at a cocktail mixer. But before they can finish their Old Fashioneds, they are asked to provide a sperm sample. The men dutifully line up outside a mobile collection center -- aka trailer -- go inside to do their thing, then find out how their swimmers stack up against the competition. In a later challenge, producers stage a fake bear ambush during a camping trip to test the contestants' protective instincts.
The premise of "Labor of Love" might initially seem shocking, especially since it comes from Fox -- a network that has consistently managed to reach new lows in the genre, including "Joe Millionaire" (humble construction worker tricks dimwitted gold diggers) and "I Wanna Marry 'Harry'" (Prince Harry lookalike tricks dimwitted gold diggers).
But for someone like Katzmann, who is now 42, reality TV is also wonderfully efficient: being able to choose from 15 eligible men who say they are ready for a family (and have passed a background check) eliminates a lot of time wasted on small talk.
"I think a lot of women are in the same position as me," says Katzmann, an account manager for a natural products company. "So, what maybe seems outlandish at the start is actually a really relatable story. And there is so much heart and soul in the show."
Katzmann spent most of her 30s focused on her career, socializing with friends in Chicago and traveling the world. A marriage at 37 ended after six months. She had already starting seeing a fertility specialist and exploring options such as co-parenting and sperm donation when a friend sent her the casting call for "Labor of Love."