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Image / Living / Culture

All the bizarre reality dating shows we love to binge – including a new ‘Bridgerton’-themed one


By Sarah Finnan
19th Mar 2022

@bravodailydish

All the bizarre reality dating shows we love to binge – including a new ‘Bridgerton’-themed one

A ‘Bridgerton’-themed courting show, ‘Love is Blind’ and ‘Sexy Beasts’: The weirdly wonderful world of reality dating shows.

Reality dating shows fill a very specific niche in our viewing schedules. They don’t require much focus or brain space, but they’re still entertaining enough to draw us all in. They often make up the brunt of our WhatsApp group chat conversations and the social media debriefs (by which I mean the memes) have become as big a part of the watching process as the shows themselves. 

Some of us are open about our love for trash TV, others feign disinterest but are big fans behind the scenes. Wherever you fall on the reality dating show spectrum, you have to agree that some of them are extremely bizarre… which is exactly why we can’t look away. 

Here are some of the most weirdly wonderful reality dating shows out there at the minute. 

The Courtship 

Swiping is out, courting is in. 

One of the latest reality dating shows to be announced, The Courtship is very Bridgerton-esque and clearly takes its cues from the popular Regency-era Netflix series. Following a similar format to The Bachelorette (another popular U.S. dating show), the series will be housed in a beautiful castle in the countryside and will see 16 men compete to win the affections of one lucky lady. Period costumes are a must and participants will partake in activities such as horseback riding, fencing, rowing and archery. 

So far only an American premiere date has been announced (coming to NBC on March 6), but fingers crossed an Irish screening is soon to follow because I’m already extremely invested. 

Love is Blind 

Can you believe it’s been two full years since the first season of Love Is Blind first landed on Netflix? It seems like just yesterday that we were watching Jessica lament her 10-year age gap with Mark. Simpler times, I think you’ll agree.

Now back with a second season, the premise remains the same and 30 new singletons have entered the pods in the hopes of finding love. Trying to establish a deep emotional connection with another person just by speaking to them through a wall, potential paramours are only allowed to meet once one partner has proposed to the other (and they’ve said yes, obviously). 

The concept was strange two years ago and it’s just as strange today. It’s also addictive watching though. Love Is Blind Brazil was truly terrible and I highly recommend you watch that next. 

Sexy Beasts

This is by far one of the most bizarre dating shows I’ve ever watched and yet I just couldn’t look away. 

Essentially each episode focuses on one individual who is set up on three separate blind dates. What’s the hook? Unlike the name suggests, this show is all about inner beauty and contestants are kitted out with elaborate prosthetic makeup to conceal what they really look like. Think scarecrow costumes, devil ears (not the kitschy Halloween kind) and even bright blue troll paint and fake hair. 

While the basic idea is good – it’s designed to encourage people to “say goodbye to superficial dating” and try to establish relationships based on personality instead – the costume gimmick gets old fast so it bodes well that episodes are short and there’s a new group of daters every time. That said, the anonymity does seem to bring out a wild (excuse the pun) side of contestants so expect plenty of no-holds-barred conversations and “Did he really just say that?!” moments. 

Naked Attraction 

Again, completely bonkers and yet surprisingly popular, Naked Attraction goes back to basics and, as Channel 4 puts it, “starts where a good date often ends”.

Understandably only shown after the watershed, the series is definitely designed for a more mature audience and sees singletons try to pick a date from a selection of naked contestants, whose body parts are gradually revealed to them over the course of the show. They then get dressed and head off on a date, to see if there is any chemistry when their clothes are on. 

Always a divisive topic on social media, many have petitioned for the show to be cancelled but it’s still going strong with producers even revealing plans for a spinoff show called Naked Attraction Hotel.