NEW YORK – Joe Millionaire and The Bachelorette are both both looking for love -- but the hottest romance is with TV viewers.
Joe Millionaire debuted on Fox this week to huge ratings -- the highest-rated series debut of the season on any network.
Tonight -- just two days later -- it's the The Bachelorette's turn on ABC.
Will audiences jump at the chance to watch a young, attractive woman turn the tables on the dating game by taking on 25 potential suitors?
For the first time nearly anyone can remember, two high-pressure, hughly promoted dating shows are going head-to-head for ratings.
The question is: which show will capture our imagination?
Who's going to be water-cooler talk over the next two months -- the congenial-but-poor construction worker Evan Marriott who has 20 women believing he's worth $50 million? Or Trista Rehn, a sexy, scorned woman who was the runner up on The Bachelor last spring and it now dating 25 guys at once?
Joe Millionaire got off to a strong start Monday night when an about 18.6 million viewers watched the first episode. At one point, about half-way through the premiere, Nielsen recorded 20.2 million viewers. That makes it the second largest debut episode of a new reality show in recent memory.
And it seems proof that the reality-TV craze was no flash in the pan -- but a new type of TV show that is here to stay along with the cop show and the office comedy.
While shows like Survivor and The Amazing Race depend on exotic locales and extreme competition, the genre seems to thrive on the shows that center on romance.
Bachelorette is the third installment of The Bachelor -- which will be able to air until viewers grow tired of it, while Joe Millionaire can only air once.
Meanwhile, ABC is already trying to find the next woman to star in The Bachelorette 2. The network is asking potential candidates to apply for the show through its Web site.
An industry source told The New York Post that producers have not yet decided if they'll pick a scorned bachelorette from The Bachelor 2 or find an entirely new woman.
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