We’re living during peak reality TV times, and yet every show presents the same formula. Slim, heterosexual bikini-laden girl meets gym-obsessed heterosexual lad with bulging biceps and they wander off into the sunset together. And on it goes.
Sure, it’s entertaining, but this tried-and-tested reality show set-up is perpetuating unrealistic stereotypes that simply do not reflect the times we’re living in. But that is all set to change with the sucess of TV’s first ever queer reality show Are You The One. The MTV dating show has been running for eight seasons, but in its latest iteration, it has introduced the first sexually fluid season.
True to the reality TV dating formula, a group of singletons are chucked together in a villa on a tropical island in the hope of finding true love. But the key difference is that all contestants are sexually fluid and dating experts have already pre-matched couples based on their compatibility. The contestants then have to complete a series of challenges to figure out the pairings, with a million dollars at stake if they guess correctly.
Unsurprisingly, the reaction has been overwhelmingly positive, with the show exploring the complexities of gender and desire in a way that’s so rarely portrayed on mainstream TV. It dives head first into LGBTQ dating issues, from polyamory amongst both genders, to “masc to masc” culture within the gay community.
In one episode, non-binary Basil confronts his crush Jonathan for denying a romantic future between them due to Basil’s femininity. Jonathan instead turns his attention to their muscular housemate Justin, leading Basil to question why Jonathan cannot look past the physical. This scene perfectly demonstrates the growing distaste for the effeminate within the gay community, and despite its prevalence, it hadn’t been broadcasted until now.
Are You The One is finally challenging the heteronormatic perspective on dating by reminding us all that desire comes in all forms, regardless of gender and sexuality. But, like all gripping reality shows that have us glued to our screens, it serves up the drama, debauchery and romance in good measure. Yaaas!