In the world of reality television, no sub-genre has proliferated and endured more than dating shows. The latest innovative twist was dropped on Netflix on July 21.
Sexy Beasts is a spirited reboot of a British series from a few years ago that breezily mashes up the WTF (that’s watch-the-f**k in Leblanguage)-ability of the 90s hit Blind Date with the ought-twenties’ gimmick of contestants in elaborate costumes a la The Masked Singer. A lovelorn bachelor or bachelorette, typically a physically stunning Gen Z-er who is frustrated with being judged (and judging) primarily on looks, auditions three equally sheathed suitors over drinks, with wonderfully cheesy narration accompanying the usual addictive pas-de-deux that accompanies young adult horniness
At the same time, the show that started this all, The Dating Game, has been reincarnated by its original network ABC as The Celebrity Dating Game, awkwardly co-hosted by Zooey Deschanel and Michael Bolton and features such notable superstars as David Koechner and Demi Burnett, along with aging hotties like Taye Diggs and Carmen Electra, lurking on the other side of the iconic wall that first appeared 56 years ago when Chuck Barris introduced hormones to daytime network television.
Here’s the contrasts of the oldest to the newest: Sexy Beasts shows real-time raw reactions of people on actual dates who are forced to look beneath the surface and judge future dating potential on personalities. The show actually CALLED The Dating Game features scripted questions by performers of (largely) wanna-be performers who are NOT on a date and DO NOT go on one even if they “win”.
While Netflix doesn’t release viewership data, we do know it’s getting a tremendous amount of buzz. We also know that the Celebrity Dating Game is getting roughly one-third of the young adult audience of the show that leads into it, The Bachelorette–which is, of course, the current best-in-class of the genre. That franchise also involves actual dates with actual people, masks be damned. And a very high level of WTF-ability.
There are eight half-hours of Sexy Beasts currently available, which yours truly breezed through in less than four hours during one recent sleepless night. One hour of Celebrity Dating Game felt like far more than four, and to be honest we didn’t make it through the second half-hour. There’s only so much Michael Bolton preening that anyone can take.
Until next time…