By: Kimberley Bond
Television seems to suggest, or rather insist, that to be a person of any interest, you have to be in a couple.
From The Bachelor to Blind Date, the sorry state of singledom is something to be shed immediately, no matter the price of the humiliation – with people willing to see their hearts smashed in front of the nation at the chance of finding The One.
But it seems that finally, after about a million variations of the single-meets-single format, we have reached rock bottom. When Meat Loaf sung ‘I’d Do Anything For Love (But I Won’t Do That)’, it turns out he was singing about Sexy Beasts.
Each 20 minute episode of Netflix’s latest dating show sees one lead single trussed up like a turkey (quite literally) as they take out three prospective suitors (similarly furred and feathered) before choosing one to continue dating, and revealing ‘who’s that behind the mask’. It’s like The Masked Singer, only significantly less fun.
Sexy Beasts ascertains that it’s trying to get couples to say “goodbye to superficial dating”, seeing them dressed up in the most ridiculous costumes that seemingly have no other purpose than to bring brief moments of comedy. The prosthetics – which the team didn’t bother to extend beyond the contestants’ faces, seeing a dolphin with a pink polo neck go on a date in with a grasshopper in a shirt – are pretty much designed to go viral on social media. A beaver, looking directly at the camera saying: “Ass first, personality second”? An instant meme from the trailer, and probably the only amusing thing to come from this show.
Sexy Beasts is meant to be funny, but that same tired joke is told repeatedly, and then only gets crickets as a response. Each episode timidly explores its themes of dating without physical appearance getting in the way, but fails to really delve into this properly – nor does it ever really try, only offering sarky commentary from Rob Delaney as a substitute.
Unlike superior shows like Love Island or The Bachelor or even Too Hot to Handle, there’s not enough run-time or continuity to properly delve into looks and love – and its so-called ‘ground-breaking’ take on dating and relationships isn’t even particularly new, SINCE Sexy Beasts itself was rehashed from a not-particularly-memorable BBC Three format from 2014.
Frankly, there are a plethora of shows that explore the idea of aesthetics and dating far better – Netflix’s smash hit Love Is Blind took this notion to the extreme, with contestants isolated in separate rooms and making decisions on whether they should marry someone based on voice and conversation alone – and the end result was an addictive worldwide smash as we watched the stories of these couples as they take the plunge and tie the knot.
Not only does Sexy Beasts not have the time frame to explore this similar theme properly, it doesn’t have the stakes either – the suitor who gets chosen by the singleton wins the luxury prize of… another date, maybe. Who even cares?
And that leads to the other problem in Sexy Beasts. There’s nothing to really win or lose because, for all the show crows about ‘not being superficial’, all of its contestants are traditionally attractive. There’s no point in dressing up a suitor as a mouse or a mandrill if underneath they all look like they’d easily land #spon posts on Instagram and a Pretty Little Thing deal. Without the prosthetics, any of the contestants could have easily been on any other dating show, which defeats the point Sexy Beasts believed it was trying to prove.
That’s not even mentioning the lack of diversity within those taking part in the programme – each episode is made up of straight, cis-gendered individuals looking for love when there’s absolutely no reason as to why the Sexy Beast format couldn’t apply to the whole spectrum of sexualities and daters.
With its core themes in tatters, its costumes not really all that funny and its airtime too short for any real discussion to be elicited, anyone looking to make a date with Sexy Beasts should cancel any scheduled plans and literally watch something, anything, else. Trust us, Sexy Beasts certainly isn’t The One, and even if you’re considering mildly flirting with it, a one-night stand will leave you dissatisfied and disappointed.