The world had changed considerably since the mid 1990s, but Jenny McCarthy remains smokin’, sassy and singles-minded.
McCarthy first caught the eyes of the mainstream – at least, the eyes that hadn’t already perused her appearances in Playboy – with the raucous MTV speed-dating series “Singled Out,” shoving the male contestants into submission when their hormones spiked too high. Almost two decades later McCarthy returns to the world of small-screen hookups she helped pioneer, as the new host of NBC’s “Love In the Wild,” throwing the show’s insta-couples some signature curves while they test their potential together during a series of adventures in the tropics of the Dominican Republic.
On hosting a dating show years after her MTV breakout:
“Since ‘Singled Out’ people have been coming up to me going ‘God, can't you just do that show again? It was so much fun. Bring that Jenny back.’ And I thought to myself, ‘Well, there can't be a show as perfect as that, where I can be all those elements.’ And it took this long, but when NBC contacted me and they said ‘We want you to host starting the second season,’ I said ‘Hmm, maybe this could be a dating show that I could implement all those things that people liked about 'Singled Out.'" So when I sat down with them I said ‘Yes, I would love to do it, as long as you let me bring that “Singled Out'” Jenny back to T.V.’ And they said they would.”
On reviving her singular style of wrangling the contestants:
“I absolutely do some dancing, some ridiculousness, some hitting, some pushing around. I definitely do a few of those things, like, 'Shut up!' Smacking them around. But you know, no one went away going, like, 'What a bitch!’ They went away like, 'Oh my God – It was fun and funny.'
On being impressed by the contestants’ gung-ho attitudes:
“When I read about these adventures I thought there's no way they're going to be able to do these things, and they did. They really manned up, if you will – stuff that I wouldn't even do. I was the only one that was hurt, if you can believe it, and I didn't do one adventure. I pulled my hamstring sleeping, and I was on crutches in between takes. I was a loser.”
On whether she would’ve wanted to do the show herself in her younger years:
“This is the reason why I would: It's because in this show people are forced to drop their kind of representative face that we all use to start off a relationship. I'm sure girls are nodding like we try to be our best like, ‘Oh, yes, I love your mother, and everything is great.’ And then two years later we're like, ‘I’m not going to your mother's house!’ In this show you are forced to see who the person really is as soon as you put them in the adventure: all the fake self kind of dissipates and you see who that person is. And so, to me, we're saving them years, so to speak. And so when I was going through the show I'm like, oh, my God, I would so put myself in this in my 20s.”
On lessons learned from watching the contestants:
“I am trying to apply it to my own life. It was really interesting to watch, and really heartwarming for me, because initially they have to pick each other based off looks. We only give them a few seconds, so they have to go 'Okay, you.' And then as the day goes on, they can instantly see that there's no chemistry and they start to see red flags immediately, going, 'She's not for me.' So it helped me go 'Okay, I need to notice those red flags sooner.' Like my therapist back in the day says: 'Jenny, you have the amazing ability to bleach red flags white.' Like it was real, 'Oh, no – he's okay. Bleach it white.’ So watching the show it made me go ‘You just have to wake up and be very clear-minded to see him and not fool yourself.'
On managing a single life around being the mom of a 10-year-old son with autism:
“I have a six-month rule. I don't introduce my son to anybody until someone makes it six months, so since I've been divorced Evan has met two guys – and that was in the past ten years… It took awhile. I felt like, 'Oh, I'm so alone – I have to be with somebody!' And I got to that place where I was like ‘You know what? I don't really need anybody in my life. I'm happy with myself.’ I've said it in my other book like, 'Okay, I don't need to have a lover to have love in my life.' But then I finally go to that place and it kind of worked out.”
On the now-skyrocketing success of her cousin, Melissa McCarthy:
“It's been phenomenal. When she moved out to L.A. I was about to do my MTV sketch show and she said, 'I want to move to LA. – I want to get a break'. And I said, 'Why don't you come on as a P.A. on the show and see how the machine works.' So she came on as a P.A. and worked on my sketch show for 22 episodes. And then towards the end she's like, 'I want to do a couple sketches.' I'm like 'You got it.' So I put her in a couple sketches, and I was like, 'Oh, this bitch is great!' And then, you know, some people just took longer to hit. I had no doubt in my mind, and I would've put all of my money on her, going, 'She's going to hit.' She's just going to have to be the one that goes there.”
On the enduring appeal of 90s-era MTV icons:
“I can't believe it. Who would have thunk, you know, 'Beavis & Butthead' would be back? But they don't age, so they can do whatever they want.”
On staying apparently ageless herself – enough to pose for Playboy again on the brink of 40:
“Let me just tell you: I was just pulling up my pictures of when I was pregnant. I was 211 lbs. And I was like telling people, like, 'Look at this picture!’ No one believed me, and they were like, 'Oh my God. You really were 211 lbs!' So I do know what it's like to lose 80 lbs. That's how much I had to lose. And it's now a matter of freaking working out, which sucks. Ugh. I'd rather shoot myself in the head. I'm so going to give up after 65 and just eat and drink and smoke…Having your sister be your professional makeup artist helps. Yoga helps. I'm an obvious Botox user – I tell everyone. And that's it – I just kind of take care of myself.”