The trailer for Netflix’s latest dating show dropped a day ago, and I can’t stop thinking about it.
“Sexy Beasts,” the show is called without any hint of irony, is an extremely bizarre show based on face value alone. In order to test out the chemistry of the potential couples, they’re put in elaborate prosthetics and makeup to look like hellish humanoid creatures (dolphin women, scarecrow men, and a devil) which hides their actual appearances. It is made for all the furries and people who grew up disappointed watching the end of “Beauty and the Beast” when the beast turned into a human. Kind of.
Sidenote: Would they explore a couple who like each other’s looks more in beast form and want to stay together in that form? What would happen then? Will the show fund a team of makeup and prosthetic artists to do their faces every morning for the entirety of their relationship?
The streaming giant has had its fair share of bizarre reality shows before. “Too Hot to Handle’s” central conceit is that a group of hot, hedonistic 20-somethings would not be able to get their hands off each other even if a huge cash prize is on the line. But I think the most emblematic of Netflix’s reality show format are the shows where people never see each other’s faces, because the company believes that relationships formed without the knowledge of someone’s actual physical appearance and happen on personality alone are the most authentic. There’s “The Circle,” the show where people who never met each other compete to be the most popular in their tiny microcosm of social media platforms. The marriage show “Love is Blind” has people getting engaged before ever seeing each other face to face.
The idea of love unencumbered by physical appearances is appealing, but it’s soured when you realize that, despite all the added decor, all the singles in “Sexy Beasts” are conventionally attractive. They’re all young and hot and thin. The potential couples might not know what their date’s face looks like, but they know what their body does. (As confirmed by the beaver man, who says, “Ass first, personality second.”) There are no real stakes to this.
The hellish part of dating is bringing your insecurities and all the parts of yourself that don’t conform to beauty standards with you. If you’re not young and hot and thin and able-bodied, dating is harder and more nerve-wracking than if you were.
“So what if I pick you and I’m not what you expect underneath?” a woman asks in the trailer. I find it really hard to care.
Frankly, if the show was more straightforward about catering to the furries and did away with the “let’s fall in love with our personalities alone” angle, I’d be more on board with it. No more noncommittal beating around the bush! Make a dating show about people who love putting on costumes and prosthetics and are looking for the same. I’m tired of bizarre dating shows revolving around normal people anyways. Revel in the monster f*ckery!