I know I’m really late to this party, but if you haven’t been watching this season of Are You the One?, you are seriously missing out on the best reality TV right now. It’s been a hot minute since both Love Island UK and Love Island USA finished, so like me, you’re probably looking for something else to whet your trashy dating show appetite. Do I have the show for you! (I know there’s Bachelor in Paradise, but this is much better, I promise.)
This weekend, I visited friends in Ottawa, and instead of seeing our nation’s capital, the three of us decided to binge-watch the most recent season of AYTO?. It was a glorious 6 hours of lying on the couch, screaming at the TV while eating chips.
On AYTO?, contestants are put through a series of interviews and questions, and so are their friends, families, and even exes, to determine their worst dating habits. Using this data, the mystical “dating experts” on the show use a matchmaking algorithm to find a contestant’s Perfect Match: a person who they are both compatible with and can help them break out of their bad habits. However, the contestants don’t know who their Perfect Match is. They have to find out for themselves.
At Matching Ceremonies, contestants choose who they want to pair up with. For each couple that is a Perfect Match, a beam of light appears. The number of lights indicates how many Perfect Matches are paired up but doesn’t tell contestants who those couples are. Over the course of several weeks, the contestants have to use this information, data from the “Truth Booth”, and their hearts to find their Perfect Match. If all couples pair up perfectly before the show is over, they win $1 million dollars.
The fact that AYTO? is both a team and competitive show creates some interesting dynamics on screen. Contestants must find their match but also help others find theirs. Additionally, matches are pre-determined, meaning that once people are confirmed not to be a match, they can keep looking. This is quite different from Love Island where new people have to be added in to keep things fresh, and people aren’t forced to consider other options aside from their initial interests. Also, people on AYTO? have sex in the “boom boom room”.
But the real reason AYTO? is so amazing is because this season, the entire cast is sexually fluid people. Full disclosure, I only started watching the show because of this. For the history of dating shows, queer people have been largely left out, aside from a few select individuals (eg. Sophie Gradon) on mostly heterosexual shows. There were also a few problematic shows back in the 2000s that focused solely on trying to figure out who was gay and who was straight (cause that’s always a fun exercise right?) and Finding Prince Charming which only focuses on MLM (men who love men) relationships.
AYTO? embraces the spectrum of diversity by allowing people who are bisexual, pansexual, gender non-conforming, non-binary, and transgender to participate in the regular trashy dating antics that we all love and enjoy. Plus, ANYONE CAN MATCH WITH ANYONE! Think about how much that turns up the drama. You’re never sure if people are vibing because they’re friends, vibing because they’re in love, or vibing because they wanna f-ck. On AYTO?, opening up the show to a diverse cast is also a great avenue to explore what it’s like to date in the LGBTQ community. How it’s hard to come out to our parents, how it’s hard to accept ourselves, how it’s hard to get people to use our pronouns, and how we can carry that trauma into our dating lives.
My question is why hasn’t anyone done this before? It’s certainly way more interesting than any of the dating shows I’ve seen so far, with the bonus that everything is queer and fun. There’s even an entire episode dedicated to queer prom, and I fully cried throughout.
There are still three episodes of Are You the One? this season, and the next episode comes out tonight. Right now, we’ve found out two Perfect Matches, and from the previews of next episode, it looks like we might even find out a third! I’ve genuinely been making a series of tables and charts to try and figure out everyone’s perfect match. I’m THAT invested.
All the episodes are available to watch on MTV, so catch up before tonight’s episode, and tell me your faves; I’m a Basit and Remy stan.