Dating Reality TV – How Far Do They Really Have to Go?

In the past week, I’ve found out about two rather different reality dating shows.  First off – Married at First Sight – a US show which premiered this month, and which there are rumours will be making its way to our screens in a homegrown format soon.  And then Dating Naked – another American show which launched last week.

Both shows do exactly what they say on the tin.

In Married At First Sight, couples complete a series of interviews and psychological tests, before finally being paired up with their match.  The catch?  They have to marry as soon as they meet.  The show is billed as a social experiment – can science play a role in finding your perfect match.  The show then follows the married couples, to see if the matching has been successful.

In Dating Naked, couples meet for the first time, and go on dates completely naked.  These are not simple dinner dates, either!  They go body boarding, body painting – essentially any activity that could make their naked states even more awkward!

I’ve been writing about dating for over a year now, and the thing I’ve realised about dating and relationships, is that people find the whole topic interesting enough already.  Humans are nosey creatures – we love to find out about other peoples’ lives, and other peoples’ love lives – it’s how this blog took off.  Regardless of whether they were single or coupled-up, my friends wanted to read about the dates I was going on.

And I wasn’t going on those dates naked, or marrying the men as soon as I met them!

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Two of the most successful dating shows in the UK are The Undateables and First Dates.  Take Me Out was also a huge success, and back in the day, the simple format of Blind Date worked a treat.

When it comes to dating, as viewers we’re interested, no matter how simple the concept.  First Dates simply filmed a load of First Dates in action.  Not adventurous dates, just drinks and dinner in a nice restaurant – and the show was a huge success.  The reason we love the Undateables, is because despite the shows’ stars’ disabilities, they were all experiencing things, and vocalising feelings, which we’ve all experienced over the years with dating.

No one I know has ever got married to a total stranger.  And no one I know has ever gone on a first date naked!

Yes, I get the need for the occasional shock factor in TV.  The need to do something different, and trump other production houses.  But what messages are these shows giving about dating, and about marriage?

Whilst the aim of Marriage At First Sight may well be to show that someone else can choose your perfect partner for you (something they’ve tried before with panels of parents and friends picking dates for people), my issue with the show is the marriage aspect.  Yes, I appreciate that’s the shock factor.  But the reason they use marriage, not just a relationship, is because they say the extra commitment will make the couples genuinely try to make it work.  Hmm … I’m not so convinced.  Anyone who believes in the sanctity of marriage is NOT going to sign up for a show where they know they’re going to have to get married.  The only reason someone would sign up, is because they know they can get divorced if/when it all goes wrong.  So realistically, those types of candidates won’t see the marriage as any more binding than if the show simply dubbed them ‘boyfriend and girlfriend’.  By adding marriage into the mix, you end up avoiding any real candidates who might have taken the experiment seriously, and simply attracting a load of fame hungry applicants, who would happily get married to a donkey, for the right price!

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As for Dating Naked – I don’t get it?  Again, other than the obvious shock value.  Being naked is sexy, yes … but in the right circumstances!  And one of the most powerful aspects of nudity is the undressing!  The whole build up – getting to know each other in clothes, and building up to the point where you can’t wait to rip someone out of his or her clothes.  If you meet someone for the first time in the nude, there’s no mystery!  And whilst you might think you’re showing your true self, the whole situation will show anything but your true self.  So much of what we say is in our body language.  Being awkward and naked won’t make you behave how you normally would – your body language will simply mirror your awkwardness and lack of ease.  And clothing is one of the ways we express ourselves.  I chose all my clothes.  I bought them all, and I am the one who picks what I wear each morning.  Clothing is more than a preserver of modesty – it is a way we express our personalities.

Yes, it’s all very sensational – but both shows are completely missing the point on the main theme.  Dating and Relationships.

These shows aren’t actually about Dating – they’re about innevitable forced Divorce, and awkward Nudity!

Miss Twenty-Nine xxx

 

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3 Comments on Dating Reality TV – How Far Do They Really Have to Go?

  1. Reality TV is so terrible, it keeps getting worse and worse. I don’t understand how people watch this. Even the base naked stuff, which is obviously enticing on a certain level, but just go all out and watch porn or proper nudist videos online something. Why should this be professionally produced for television?

    Oh what MTV has wrought.

    The answer is basically money. It’s cheaper to produce reality shows.

  2. You know, it’s pretty bad when actual reality TV shows – or to borrow a line from Studio 60, Illiterate Programming – have more ridiculous premises than fictional reality shows in movies that are satirizing them. These ideas are right up there with that ridiculous “I Can Do Better” show from the remake of Stepford Wives – and that premise resulted in gun fire.

    I try not to lump all of it together – by all rights, a game show is a kind of reality show. But these shows aren’t really reality TV. They’re called unscripted shows, or reality shows, but in truth, they are scripted reality shows. Most of the conflicts and victories are invented or conflated through editing. They intentionally seek people who will be both beloved and vilified by the public, and they don’t hesitate to stir up any hornet’s nest they can. A ‘dating’ show like this, has about as much reality in it, as an episode of Primeval.

    What’s hilarious is, the only thing worthwhile about shows this dumb, is the entertainment value of people making fun of them. I look forward to seeing Charlie Brooker’s take on these new dating shows, when the next Wipe arrives.

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