If Chris Harrison and cable television have taught me anything, it is that there is no shortage of ardor looking to capitalize on the pursuit of “true love.” According to the formula that is ABC, this is typically supposed to happen across the span of six weeks, in a beach villa, on a tropical island, where there is an abundance of the two things that come both free and at a high cost: alcohol and drama.
The Bachelor, and its female counterpart, The Bachelorette, have been chugging along for 19 seasons based on this canon. The success of the series has spawned a slew of spinoffs including Bachelor Pad and Bachelor in Paradise, not to mention the plethora of reality dating shows that followed, including (but not limited to) Mr. Personality, Average Joe, and A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila.
It’s all become so obvious. For a while, it seemed as though the genre had been reduced to a puddle of Juan Pablo-induced tears until, that is, VH1’s Dating Naked was born.
The show, which premiered on July 17th, follows three young men and women as they meet and subsequently date while naked. Contestant numero uno, Joe from Long Island, put it like this: “Dating naked gives me a way to possibly trust somebody again. I’m here for love. I don’t want beauty and looks. I want somebody that’s going to be there and care for me. There are no secrets. You see me. I see you. Boom.” (Joe’s conviction was tested when Yasmin from Israel tempted and almost snagged him by the fruit of her exotic looms.)
The supposition is that the presence of nudity will allow for singles to date honestly. Host Amy Paffrath’s opener takes a page from the Homeboy’s Guide to Existentialism, stating: “In today’s modern world, we’re supposed to be more connected than ever, but it feels like we’re just further apart.”
Here’s the thing, though — save for the initial shock of seeing a naked stranger, the show is kind of underwhelming if not exactly tantamount on the thrill-scale to every other show swimming in the waters of reality dating. A preview for the newest episode even suggested the powers that be a production team’s scramble to orchestrate discomfort when two contestants are seen being sent on a yoga date, and bent into, er, awkward positions (here’s hoping he had his asshole bleached).
And as I continue to watch the series, I remain unconvinced that the premature display of ones genitals can be the magnet that brings people closer together. Unlike Discovery Channel’s Naked and Afraid, naturism does little to exacerbate the tension between contestants and their environment. Ten minutes in and the bodies are as unremarkable and hackneyed as the reality TV dating game itself.
It’s just, why? Maybe the deluge of ridiculous reality dating premises have led to a desensitization towards the absurd?
Amy Paffrath hawked the show for its ability to “bring us together” and maybe it has, if only through one collective guffaw. But if that’s the point, where’s the magic, where are our morals and for the love of cable, where is the good television?