Here Are Some Of The Wildest Reality Dating Shows To Ever Exist In Case ‘Love Island’ Isn’t Enough for You
Reality dating shows are addictive. It’s fine to admit it. We all love a bit of trash TV.
Take Love Island for example. There’s nothing like the rush of watching attractive singles fight, cry and fall in love (well, mostly the first two).
But if shows like Love Island or The Bachelor aren’t enough for you anymore, here are a few reality dating shitshows that might help you chase that high.
1. Playing It Straight
What better place to start on this batshit journey than with a true classic. The concept mimicked that of the traditional Bachelor (or rather, Bachelorette) format, with a dozen or so men vying for the attention and affection of a suitress. The twist? That half of the male contestants were actually gay, and just pretending to be straight.
Each week, the suitress had to use her ~gaydar~ to eliminate the men who she thought were gay. If the winner ended up being straight, the suitress and the winner would share a sum of money. If the winner was gay, he won the entire prize.
The show had variants across the world, but it was most successful in the UK, where it ran for an entire two seasons. Season One featured a suitress named Zoe and 12 men fighting for her love in the most heterosexual possible location – a Mexican ranch called ‘El Rancho Macho’.
There’s so much to unpack about this show that you just have to watch yourself to see. There’s the incredibly fragile masculinity, the flashing pop-up that reminds us ‘some of the contestants may be lying’ (as if anyone on reality television is ever not lying), and the absolute bops that are the musical narration segments. Thankfully, you can find can experience it yourself on YouTube.
2. Momma’s Boys
32 women + three men + their overbearing mothers = reality television gold. Momma’s Boys saw a bunch of women looking for love stuck in a house with the mums of three potential suitors. From here on out, it’s pretty simple – the guys get to make the decisions on who stays and goes, but the mums are there the whole way to stir up drama influence their choice.
One of the other interesting things about the show is the way in which contestants are saved or eliminated. If any of the men want a woman to stay, the women receive a text message that just says ‘yes’. If none of the men want them to stay, they just get a text that says ‘no’. I mean, being dumped via text is one thing, but on national television as well? Yikes.
The show was hosted by Ryan Seacrest and ran for an entire season in 2008 before cancellation. It’s not easy to find online, but you can check out the promo here.
Alternatively, here’s a link to a rather controversial clip from the show that may allude to why it didn’t stay on air.
3. Dating in the Dark
AKA the only way I’ll ever find love.
This show originated in the Netherlands under the name ‘Daten in het Donker’ (frankly, I don’t know why it was ever translated because that is an infinitely better name). The show features three male and three female contestants who are only allowed to communicate with the opposite sex in a pitch-black room. Like many traditional dating shows, there are group dates and one-on-one dates; except they must take place in complete darkness.
After the one-on-one dates, contestants can choose a member of the opposite sex that they want to see. And by ‘see’, I mean they view them through a two-way mirror, unable to see their partners reactions.
At the end of this entire process, contestants separately decide if they want to walk away or pursue a relationship. The whole thing seems a little counterintuitive but doing things the easy way really takes all the fun out of it.
Somehow, this concept has been produced internationally in over 20 countries, including two seasons that started in Australia back in 2010. There are episodes from many of the series available on YouTube, so you can settle in for the long haul.
4. Conveyor Belt of Love
Sometimes swiping left or right on Tinder is such hard work. Don’t you wish your potential suitors would just glide past you on a conveyor belt instead? No actually, not at all, because it would mean having to interact with them in real life, which seems to defeat the purpose.
However, if real life Tinder is your thing, check out Conveyor Belt of Love!
Contestants only have 60 seconds to judge their suitors based mainly on their appearance, and also whatever elevator pitch they can recite in that time. Contestants show their interest with double-sided signs reading ‘interested’ or ‘not interested’. On an unrelated note, I do wish it was socially acceptable to carry around a sign that says ‘not interested’ at all times.
Here’s a snippet so that you can get an idea of the concept.
5. Flavor of Love
We’ve seen the Bachelor/ette franchises utilising celebrities as their suitors for reasons such as increased viewership, shock value and just general extra drama. The iconic Flavour of Love did just that, except YEARS ago, and it featured rapper Flavor Flav as the potential suitor.
There are so many interesting details about this show and frankly, the entire franchise. The first is that it had three seasons, and Flavor Flav was the suitor every SINGLE TIME. At the end of Season 3, he hadn’t ended up with any of the contestants, but he did propose to someone entirely different in a reunion episode.
The show had at least five different spin-offs, that I’m going to list now just so you can experience the sheer ridiculous breadth of this franchise: I Love New York, Rock of Love, Real Chance of Love, Flavor of Love Girls: Charm School, and I Love Money. If anyone knows where I can sign up for that last one, feel free to let me know.
The series also launched the career of Tiffany Pollard AKA ‘New York’. Tiffany was in Seasons One and Two and came second both times. If you don’t recognise the name, you’ll likely recognise her incredibly GIF-worthy face.
The aforementioned I Love New York was a spin-off about Tiffany, which was followed by another two spin-off seasons, called New York Goes to Hollywood and New York Goes to Work.
Much of the show is available on YouTube if you have the time and/or the willpower.
6. Joe Millionaire
One of the more popular reality tropes is ‘lying to the contestants’, as featured in the American show Joe Millionaire.
It’s basically The Bachelor, except if the contestants all thought the suitor was a millionaire… even though he wasn’t.
At the end of the show, it was revealed to the winning contestant that the suitor wasn’t exactly making it rain; but if the couple stayed together, they were surprised with a prize of one million dollars.
The show aired in 2003 and did incredibly well, and even had a second season. The problem was that the first season was so popular that everyone in America knew the premise. They ended up having to scout contestants from Europe who had never heard of the show. Unsurprisingly, this season did far less well and ended up being the last.
You can meet the average Joe (whose name is actually Evan) here.
7. I Wanna Marry Harry
I’d like to finish up this list with a personal favourite of mine: the buck wild 2014 classic, I Wanna Marry Harry. It’s one of the more recent shows on this list, and one that caused quite a bit of commotion when it aired. In case you haven’t heard of it, let me break this absolutely sadistic concept down for you – 12 women are brought to a fancy castle in England, and told that they’re going to be vying for the attention of none other than Prince Harry.
There’s only one slight little teeny tiny problem – of course it’s not fucking Prince Harry. It’s some box-dyed redhead called Matthew who, if you squint at, whilst drunk, might look a like Prince Harry if you have no idea what actually Prince Harry looks like. He looked as much like Prince Harry as I look like Meghan Markle. Just kidding, I don’t want to insult Meghan like that.
The show was so incredibly bad, that only four episodes actually made it to air. The final four were released at a later date online. If you think you can stomach watching, it’s available on YouTube.