Friday nights are usually a time to drink away your weekly woes with colleagues or friends at some hideously overpriced monstrosity at the Viaduct. Last Friday however, I hung out with my parents and somehow ended up watching the most brutal dating show I have ever seen: Naked Attraction. The whole show revolves around judging completely nude people on their body parts, genitalia included. Penises, balls, and boobs! Oh my! My mum was laughing her head off and it wasn’t because she was onto her second glass of Merlot.
These dating shows take a tried and used formula and push it to extremes. As audiences we desire this spectacle and shock because well, we live in a world that gives us these extremes in everyday life. Spectacle? A former reality TV star and chronic liar becomes the US president. Shock? In the end, he may well be the reason the world ends. Reality shows are cheap and fast to make and often bring in good ratings for traditional broadcasters who are struggling to keep afloat in an online/streaming world.
Coming soon will be the second season of the tragedy that is Married at First Sight. A successful brand, based on the original Danish show, where a bunch of singles are matched by random network people who know nothing about happy relationships*. Happy relationships don’t make for good television. We want drama, scandal and possible legal action!
MAFS is pure absurdity. The New Zealand version actually marries off the couples – like legit, legalised marriage; the right to which the LGBTQ+ community fought for centuries to gain. Trivialising such a thing seems like a big condescending fuck you from the straight community.
The second season of this nightmare boasts five single ladies and seven single lads. It’s perhaps unsurprising that nearly every single is under 33. You know you’re old when you’re bitter about some smug youth desperate for
fame marriage. Boring. Get some 40 something year olds in there mate – they’ll give you some drama to cry about.
I’m also tired of flogging this dead horse, but where is the diversity? Bar one lady, we have a sea of white, abled-bodied young faces - though we should applaud the fact that a whopping five singles come from Christchurch (Auckland haters rejoice!). Perhaps brown and black people are too busy fighting systematic oppression to add television humiliation to their busy schedules?
At their basic level, these programmes are just game shows where people are seen as contestants and prizes range from money and local fame to the inevitable disintegration of your dignity. Look, creating original, successful TV shows is hard. Dating is hard! But it doesn’t have to be completely soul destroying. After consulting with my flatmate and flat dog (he has feelings too) we came up with some new ideas for reality dating franchises (feel free to contact me to option them, I’m desperate and poor):
a) Dating for Humanity: Instead of posting pics from that one time you visited Malawi, you actually do some humanitarian work by giving money, helping rebuild something, teaching something or assisting those in need. In fact, forget about dating altogether. You’ve found something to do with your life! Hooray for you!
b) Date my dog/flatmate/mum/dad/allergy – Pretty self-explanatory and honestly some have already been made.
c) Fight Club Dating - Jeremy Wells (New Zealand’s own Brad Pitt) leads an underground group of every day folk who are there to meet past dates who ghosted, catfished or dumped them. Instead of fighting (which we don't condone) they sit down together with some kombucha, talk feelings and get told how amazing they really are by a teary eyed Wells. Everyone hugs a lot.
e) Dating Apocalypse – Hunger Games. For singles. (Oh wait, we already have that. It’s called online dating).
* I realise they have ‘relationship experts’ to help with the matches, but we all know its Three’s game.Support Villainesse