Netflix's Sexy Beasts is a completely bonkers but surprisingly authentic dating series
It might look a little crazy, but Sexy Beasts offers us dating with a difference and it's actually quite refreshing.
We're used to seeing dating shows with singletons clad in bikinis and prancing around villas as they "couple up" or try to resist the temptation of touching one another, but Sexy Beasts takes the concept of physical attractiveness and disposes with it entirely.
Instead, we have contestants getting to know one another while dressed in crazy disguises - think The Masked Singer meets First Dates - and though a version of the show originally aired on BBC Three in 2014, its return now courtesy of Netflix couldn't be better timed.
Sure, it's a little odd at first to see two people going on a date while clad in bizarre prosthetics – whether they're disguised as a devil, a panda or an alien – but you soon get sucked into the strange world of Sexy Beasts and are able to enjoy the show for what it's really about - people getting to know one another and see if they can like someone purely for their personality rather than their looks.
Initially, the crazy costumes act as an ice breaker on dates, with the contestants making awkward jokes about their new look and sometimes copping a feel of a pair of large ears or an elongated nose. It's all good, clean, light-hearted fun, but it's also quite a nice way to ease the contestants in, with some revealing they were able to be themselves more behind the mask as they didn't worry about how they would be perceived physically.
Once the fascination over the outfits subsides, it's pretty much a normal date from there on – and with looks off the table, the contestants have to connect via conversation, and when the conversation doesn't flow, it's pretty obvious. Besides the costumes, there are no other gimmicks to fall back on.
Too often it can feel like wannabe superstars sign up for dating shows with an ulterior motive and play up to the cameras. With Sexy Beasts, that element's removed. Instead, we get what feels like authentic, old-fashion dating (with the addition of the costumes of course) where the contestants just want to get to know each other.
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And you'd be surprised at how close they get without seeing one another's real face, with some even sharing kisses through their masks and insisting no matter what they'll like what they see once the masks are off. Similar to Netflix's Love is Blind, where participants communicated via a wall, it just goes to show that clearly, there are many ways to fall in love.
The lack of wild twists outside the outlandish outfits doesn't mean a lack of drama, though – Sexy Beasts serves up plenty of memorable moments, especially when a contestants doesn't get picked and takes it badly, which happens more than once. It's particularly interesting to see an immediate switch in attitude when a rejected contestant gets to see who they were dumped by and they regret not putting in effort.
And then, of course, there's the moment we're all waiting for - the big reveal! Like ITV's The Masked... shows where we guess the celebrities who are singing / dancing inside those wacky costumes, you do find yourself imagining the type of person who might be behind each mask, which adds a fun guessing game aspect to Sexy Beasts too.
Sexy Beasts might not be your type on paper, but it's actually fun, cute and serves us dating with a difference in an age of endless hot singles strutting and flaunting themselves on camera.