TLC’s much anticipated show “Virgin Diaries” premiered Sunday night, leaving much of the audience and the media poking fun at the awkwardness of the entire plot, which revolved around the real-life stories of virgins past their mid-twenties.
Some critics have accused the network of exploiting their participants, portraying them in an “embarrassing and intentionally patronizing light,” which TLC executive Timothy Kuryak previously denied doing to ABC News.
“Losing one’s virginity is a big life decision. It seemed like one of those seminal life moments that’s interesting to follow for TLC,” the network executive explained. “A lot of stories about later in life virgins talk about it like a problem. We want to show that this is something that can be celebrated.”
Cue TLC’s preview for “Virgin Diaries,” which draws particular attention to a young Christian couple, Shanna and Ryan, who just can’t appear to keep their lips off of each other after awkwardly kissing for the first time on their wedding day. Talk show host Ellen DeGeneres described it as a “chewy” kiss while countless others cringed at and ridiculed the inexperienced duo’s “chompy” smooches.
While other cast mates also relayed their stories of virginity, whether by choice or by circumstance, Shanna and Ryan’s unique relationship overshadowed most of their stories. Both had decided to wait until marriage to have sex because of their faith in God, a choice many unmarried adults today have long abandoned.
Edited in what some felt to be a mocking manner, the episode, which highlighted the couple’s awkward displays of affection and frank and honest thoughts on consummation, failed to appropriately relay Shanna and Ryan’s real story on their relationship, sans sex and kisses.
Sharing their own perspective, the two created, as a result, their own website called RyanandShanna.com in order to explain their beliefs and the reasoning behind their adulthood virginity, as well as other information on their relationship.
“The promo for the show has caused quite a stir in the media, and everyone seems to have an opinion. In this blog, you will hear from Ryan and Shanna directly as they share their story, their beliefs and other thoughts,” the website states.
Shanna and Ryan were both raised in a Christian home “with parents and siblings that loved [them] and supported [them].” They first met at a college ministry party hosted by one of Ryan’s roommates and exchanged numbers there.
Though they had lost touch after the party, they soon became reunited the following summer through Facebook when Shanna found Ryan on the networking site.
“That’s when I started to see [Shanna’s] status updates, and I noticed that everything she wrote was full of joy and thanksgiving to God for everything,” Ryan wrote. “She was praising Him with everything she wrote. It touched my heart.”
Coincidentally meeting again at a church bookstore, they soon began courting and became an official couple in February 2010.
“We figured out that we were both interested in each other and whatever God had planned for us.”
Early on, Ryan had told Shanna that he had never kissed a girl and was still a virgin, waiting until marriage. She too, confirmed that she was a virgin, though she had kissed a boy or two in high school.
“We both agreed from the beginning to keep our relationship pure, and that whatever happened in our relationship we would save ourselves for marriage,” Ryan affirmed.
The premiere episode of “Virgin Diaries” highlighted that promise of purity when the two shared their first kiss at the altar on their wedding day, a kiss that was later mocked by a majority of those who previewed it. The show also appeared to make light of their sexual promise to each other and to God.
After their long-awaited wedding night, the network zeroed in on the couple’s thoughts about losing their virginity and the sex in general. Ryan mentioned things like, “It was good, but not as good as I was expecting,” and “It was not really like in the movies,” while Shanna frankly stated it was painful.
Their blog, however, concentrated on the entirety of their marriage, with the two communicating their thoughts on their new union together.
“Marriage has been even more amazing than we imagined it would be. We are so happy together and every day that goes by we’re more and more thankful for the life God has blessed us with together,” they wrote. The couple have now been married close to five months.
The two announced that an entire section devoted to their “faith” would be coming soon on their website in addition to more details on their marriage, wedding, and engagement.
On the Web: ryanandshanna.blogspot.com