Review by Brian Lowry, CNN
Dating shows are getting weirder and stranger, but the basic formula stays remarkably true to the early days of television. So, on the heels of Netflix’s “Love is Blind” (which returns next week) and ahead of HBO Max’s “FBoy Island” comes “Sexy Beasts,” which marries the hidden vanity of “The Masked Singer” to “The Dating. Game ”, giving ridiculous predictable results.
In each episode, a participant in heavy prosthetic makeup is presented with three potential matches, each adorned the same way in different forms. The idea is for the breeder to get to know the candidates without being unduly influenced by appearance (Netflix really likes this build), before the big reveal when he and the audience can see what singles / singles actually look like.
Like other Netflix dating entries, this British-born show also features a cheeky narrator offering tongue-in-cheek asides. When one of the unselected suitors is presented without makeup, the disembodied voice asks, “Is that face hot enough for Emma to regret her decision?”
But wait, there’s a cheat inherent in the format, which even lacks the courage of its slim vanity, since everyone – stripped of their prosthetic devices – is attractive by conventional and genre standards. In one episode, the bachelorette announces that she’s a model and doesn’t wear a bag, so as the dice go to bet on whether she looks good once she takes the mask off, it’s not really a gamble.
So what does that leave? A consciously designed show to attract attention, which has been successful in the past. In reality TV, making fun of a concept is fine as long as you get the right name, and 15 minutes of fame is still worth it, even if that means donning the equivalent of the bulky makeup that Tim Curry wore in “Legend. “.
“FBoy Island” appears to use a similar strategy of tweaking an existing format, depicting another permutation on “The Bachelor” with a provocative title. Featured later this month, the concept features three women choosing potential mates from a collection of two dozen contestants divided into “Nice Guys” – those looking for a true romantic relationship – and “FBoys,” who are looking for something else.
The perceived viability of the dating formula is evident in how networks and services continue to produce such shows – differentiating them with little strands of new DNA – producing a bumper crop that currently includes a second season of “Love.” Island ”on CBS.
If programmers can continue to entice viewers with such slight swings on familiar themes, it’s hard to blame them. Yet for those who discriminate – or at least prefer the premise of a show not to be very complicated – the main regret after “Sexy Beasts” will be the decision to waste a lot of time watching it.
“Sexy Beasts” premieres July 21 on Netflix.
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