One day someone realised that dating-themed reality television was the best thing ever, and the world’s never been the same ever since. TV studios all around the globe have been bending over backwards to try to land the most entertaining premise: something that can plausibly bring two people together but that also naturally results in a lot of collateral awkwardness and drama.
International smash hit The Farmer Wants A Wife – now available to watch on demand – is one of the friendliest examples of the genre. The show sees a farmer in search of a companion who puts a series of city ladies through tests to see if they’d be fit for a life out in the country. It’s brilliant, funny and compelling and, in celebration of it coming to on demand, we’ve rounded up below a collection of the wackiest reality dating series that have been made so far.
A potential couple undresses each other until they’re in their underwear. Then they sit together on a bed and ask each other personal questions. At the end they’ve got to decide whether they want to see each other again. A UK version started on TLC last year and sure, it’s a bit odd, but the conversations end up being surprisingly moving.
Married at First Sight
Why bother with dating when you can cut straight to marriage? With Married at First Sight, a couple is pre-paired based on various characteristics and get married the day they meet. They then have six weeks to try and make it work, with the support of relationship experts. To be honest, having cameras follow you around all day as you try to figure out whether you can actually stand the stranger you’ve legally tied yourself to probably doesn’t help, but hey, It’s pretty entertaining stuff. There’s now adaptations of this all over the world, but the concept initially came from a Danish show.
Mr Personality/Sexy Beasts
These two insane shows have very similar premises. They’re both Bachelor/Bachelorette-style contests. But the contestants’ faces are hidden away, in order to let the singletons make a considered choice based on disposition, rather than appearance. In Mr Personality, which never even ran a full season, faces are hidden by a creepy mask. Sexy Beasts is wayyy odder. All of the contestants are disguised by costume prosthetics and given weird nicknames (The Tree, The Robot, The Demon… you get the picture), turning the whole thing into a bizarre remake of the Beauty and the Beast plot. Uh, what?
Game of Clones
A brand new concept now airing on E4, Game of Clones has a bachelor(ette) design their ideal partner with the help of a computer program. The show then finds people who match the profile… and dresses them all, confusingly, in identical outfits (so that they look like clones?!). Eerie. The contestants then do a series of activities with the singleton in order to try to stand out. It’s all rather unsettling.
Game Of Clones airs on Fridays at 7.30pm on E4
The Ultimate Merger
A two-season wonder, The Ultimate Merger sees Donald Trump play matchmaker for reality TV celebrities. Yeaaaah. We know. We know. In each season, a singleton and a host of potential partners handpicked by the Donald go to Las Vegas to stay at a Trump hotel and figure out whether there’s a match. Is there anything weirder than watching the current leader of the free world play Cupid? We’re going to go with no.
Participants stand naked in box-like contraptions. Their body parts are revealed piece by piece from the feet up as a potential partner decides whether or not they would want to date based on the nude body segments they see. It all just seems like an excuse to show naked bits on telly, to be honest.
I Wanna Marry ‘Harry’
This bonkers show heartbreakingly and cruelly deceived its contestants. Running for one season only, 12 women were whisked off the UK and told that they were competing for Prince Harry’s hand in marriage, Bachelor style - whereas all the while it was a frighteningly good lookalike. Not cool, guys.
Tapping into our universal interest for snooping, Room Raiders turns it into a matchmaking device. Participants survey the room of possible partners, and decide based on this evidence only, which they would like to date. Gulp.
One of the weirdest TV ideas yet, this premise is designed to provoke honest debate about sex in society. The premise is that a couple has sex on stage in an opaque box, and then comes out to talk about it with the show hosts just after the act. Sure, it makes us feel a tad queasy, but maybe that’s why we need a show like this in the first place?
The Farmer Wants A Wife season 1 is available to watch now on demand. Find it in > On Demand > Box Sets