My rough relationship with dating shows

PFR is marking the 500th post by putting up a bunch of DVD extras this week. This one’s about the best of arguably TVs worst genre – and before anyone asks, no, the site has not been hacked!

Despite being comfortable right down at the very bottom of the TV show hierarchy, match-making and dating shows have been around for decades. Circa ‘95-‘05 MTV went to town on the format, producing and broadcasting some of the trashiest TV people could be exposed to at the time. On holiday last summer I stumbled across MTV Spain filling daytime slots with re-runs, and it reminded me of the ‘best in genre’ (and I use that phrase loosely) over the years. These shows were once – inexplicably – my biggest and saddest vice when it came to vegging out in front of the box. It’s difficult to pinpoint why, although I suspect it involves the cringe inducing, dignity shattering, embarrassment of every contestant involved. Here’s the best ones I can remember:

Singled Out:  the daddy of all modern dating shows. A modern twist on the classic blind-date, 1 person works through 50 rowdy potential hook-ups, swiftly filtering by physical characteristics (hair, height, eyes…) and some equally shallow questions. Simple, genius and the chants of “You gotta go, you gotta go!” are ingrained in my brain for life.

Date my Mom: a single guy/girl goes on dates with the parents of 3 potential partners, and must choose one solely based on their experience. Best/worst bits – embarrassing stories, desperate parents, inherent creepiness, and general face-numbing cringe-factor.

: A guy/girl has 5 potential partners sitting in a nearby bus. During a date the singleton can shout ‘Next!’ and the current one gets replaced by the next in line. Best/Worst bits – some people not making it to the tarmac, and the last guy in the bus – forever alone.

Room Raiders: A singlet selects a mate by pilfering through their – usually disgusting – bedroom in order to glean an accurate character assessment, as you do! Best/Worst bits – semen stains everywhere, drug paraphernalia, porn and skid marks.

Dismissed: 1 person simultaneously dates two potential partners – at any time either competitor can call a time out on the other for some 1:1 action, the single dismisses the person she least likes. Best/worst bits – some loose lips/hands, skanks, and rampant jealousy.

Exposed: while someone dates two people, their BFF is in a van with ‘lie detecting equipment’, feeding info to the dater through an earpiece. Best/Worst bits – seeing people say anything to get some action.


Beauty and the Geek: (technically not a dating show, but too bad to miss out) teams of ridiculously hot ‘babes’ compete against teams of stereotypical nerdy guys for a big cash prize. Best/Worst bits – seeing two extremes of society compromise and trying to find ‘common ground’.

Non-MTV: Honourable mentions

Dating in the Dark (UK): 3 guys and 3 girls date in a pitch black room, basing attraction purely on personality and touchy feely moments. They each get 10 seconds of light on one pick at the end of the show before deciding who – if anyone – they will wait for; expectations are usually shattered. Best/Worst bits – people falling in love with an ‘ugly’, then turning them down at the last-minute because they’re shallow idiots.

Average Joe (US): A model-esque hot chick has to whittle down potential 18 fat / skinny / bald / ugly / nerdy / socially inept guys and pick a partner. Half way through the season they throw in a bunch of model-esque males, for added friction. Best/Worst bit – watching the hottie pretend to actually give a toss about the normal guys, and get off with everyone!

Take Me Out (UK): 30 desperate women are presented with a guy, and when they get turned off they buzz out of the game; anyone still in after the last round can potentially get a date. Best/Worst bits – blackouts, when the guy gets 30 black lights and shuffles out of the studio to the tune of “All by myself” by Celine Dion, part of my soul dies every time this happens.

I’m happy to report that this dirty habit has been almost been beaten – Take Me Out is still mandatory viewing in my house, but is becoming a little boring and predictable in its 3rd season.

Did anyone else go through this phase? and what’s YOUR favourite dating show of all-time???

  1. I admit I loved Room Raiders, Next, and Dismissed when I was in like middle school and going through my MTV reality show phase. Hahaha. I think I watched them by mistake—left the TV running a little longer than usual one day or something like that and stumbled across these. Would I watch them now? Maybe, for nostalgia’s sake, but I grew out of reality TV quickly for some reason.


  2. I’m ashamed I know half of these shows. Hahaha.

    I loved “Next.” I laugh uncontrollably every time someone yells, “Next!” by just looking at the prospective’s appearance. Poor guy. Sometimes girl. Mostly guys.


    • Paragraph Film Reviews said:

      Imagine the shame of knowing ALL of them!

      Next was beautiful when the guy didn’t even get off the bus… NEXT! Or when the first guy got the whole date locked down and nobody else got a look in. Classic trash!


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