This show is trash, but it is absolutely the best kind of trash.
30 men and women who state they’re ready to get married were selected for this reality show “experiment.” The premise is that the men and women would each go into “pods” opposite from each other. They would then speed-date with each other while not being able to see the other person. They would then pick the people they like, and if two people match, they continue to date in the “pods” until the men (yeah, it’s implied only the guys can make the decision) decide to propose. Of the 30 people, 16 got engaged. Of the 16, 12 got covered on the show. Those couples then have 40 days to move in with each other, introduce their new fiancé to their family, and then get married. It’s a built-in “will they, won’t they” narrative!
If you recall my review of 90 Day Fiancé, I’m not the biggest fan of this kind of reality show. In fact, I think it leads to a ton of people entering into relationships that are based on lies or shallow feelings and then makes it more complicated for them to get out of those relationships. This show… well, has some of that, but it also fortunately didn’t include the mass competitive pressure of The Bachelor/ette or the literal threat of deportation of 90 Day Fiancé. This show has apparently been compared to another show called Married at First Sight (which I just found out is on its tenth season and I’m dying inside), but those couples are based on essentially arranged marriages, as opposed to this show where the couples make the choices on who they want. So, I feel less guilty for liking this one.
The show frequently emphasizes that their premise is basically just normal speed-dating but without the element of seeing people, so that age, looks, and race are secondary to the personality of the other person. Since all of the contestants stated that they were looking to get married, the repeated speed dating and conversations are more direct and pointed than they might have otherwise been. The one thing that I do wish they’d do is show more of the failed dates. Due to the sheer amount of people involved and the fact that so many of them ended up engaged (6 more couples than expected, 3 more couples than they even budgeted for on the outside), almost all of the footage is of couples that end up getting engaged. I’m not saying that I want to see a bunch more guys getting shot down for terrible lines or shitty personalities, but I absolutely do.
The thing that the show has been, and should be, criticized for is that all of the people on the show are pretty much great looking. The ugliest people on it are still “TV Ugly,” which is real life above-average. Since the premise of the show is that looks don’t matter, it rings a little more hollow when almost everyone is attractive. Still, it’s not like that’ll take you out of it.
Like most reality shows, you might feel a little dirty while watching this. You’re watching people during their relationships, you’re hearing them forced to comment on uncomfortable issues, and you’re aware the entire time that you can’t tell which things are legitimate issues and which are scripted or cleverly edited so that it’s more exciting. Several of the couples seem to repeatedly have spontaneous disagreements or issues that almost certainly were more gradual than they appear. However, pretty much all of the history of Western theater is a testament to one of the saddest facts about humanity: We love watching other people’s drama and we love it more when it’s the stuff we wouldn’t normally see. Quite a few of the lines and quips in this show are definitely things we would never find out about our friends or family members, which makes us feel like we’re witnessing something taboo and that’s exciting.
In counter to all of that, it’s also interesting to see the couples, or sometimes only half of the couples, so quickly develop what appear to be genuine feelings for each other in such a short time and that kind of gives you a feeling that there is something inherently beautiful in watching the birth of a love between two people.
Given that everyone is stuck at home right now, I’m going to encourage you to embrace your inner love of trashy shows and watch this show over the next week. I’m going to do a breakdown of each of the six couples that got engaged in spoiler-heavy reviews over the next 3 weeks (2 couples/week).
THE FACELESS OLD WOMAN WHO LIVES ON MY SOFA
I don’t watch a lot of reality shows, but this show is definitely entertaining to watch, and discuss with friends which couples you’re rooting for and which are definitely not going to make it to the altar. The first part of the show in the pods is the most novel part, and does some exploration into the possibility of falling in love with someone you’ve never seen but have long, intense discussions. (Spoiler: it’s very possible.) My main problem with the premise of the show is the “is love blind” question gets somewhat derailed by the very short timeline of the show. You can argue the fact that all these people taking time off from their jobs and lives to shoot the show counts as more time than the real world would allow, but even so, 40 days is fast. Reality shows are all about doing it on a budget, so I presume it wasn’t affordable for the show to shoot for months or years, which would be a more appropriate timeline of a courtship that leads to a marriage. However, as a result the post-vacation part of the show is not so much asking “is love blind?” as “can you marry someone you’ve only known for the month?” It provides for some fun drama but isn’t quite as interesting. (The answer is: you all know at least one couple that this sort of abbreviated timeline worked for. But only one.)
If you want to check out some more by the Joker on the Sofa, check out the 100 Greatest TV Episodes of All Time, Collection of TV Episodes, Collection of Movie Reviews, or the Joker on the Sofa Reviews.
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