I haven’t stopped thinking about Sexy Beasts since I saw the trailer. Netflix’s newest dating show has contestants made over with prosthetics and elaborate costuming to help hopeful singles find love based on personality alone. (Brave!) Well, my fellow freaks, I can confirm the show is as delightfully absurd as it looks.
Sexy Beasts lets us ogle a rhino trying (and failing) to drink a pint of beer. It gives us a panda bear asking a long-haired bull whether he has health insurance. It knows that it’s yummy TV garbage and doesn’t purport itself to be anything else — a welcome change from the Too Hot to Handles of the reality-dating world that act like their audiences aren’t in it just to see what horny shenanigans their contestants will get into.
With Sexy Beasts, there’s little effort to play into the illusion that the contestants are there to find an actual relationship, let alone fall in love. It’s reminiscent of dating shows like MTV’s Next or Room Raiders that fully leaned into the gimmick. Each episode is like a supercut of the most ridiculous parts of dating shows, curated for those of us who just want to see the black light and move on.
Also, the show (which is a reboot of a 2014 BBC Three dating program) was filmed in the U.K. — so some contestants are British, which does make the worms in my American brain want to pay closer attention.
Multiple studies — all conducted by me on my couch — prove that straight dating shows are very boring. I don’t want to see hordes of horny men pretending to have emotional breakthroughs in 30 minutes. I’m tired of watching tiny women try to be the first to jump into the arms of the titular Bachelor. I want to see a human-dolphin hybrid and a scarecrow try to have a conversation about where they’re from. I want to see a man-size beaver talk about how much he likes ass.
This, paired with making the audience wait to see what contestants look after they’ve been eliminated or chosen, is what makes the show work. Unlike shows like The Circle where the props appear to be the product of a PA hurriedly running to the dollar store, the makeup and costuming on Sexy Beasts is, in my amateur opinion, very good. Contestants aren’t merely in mascot heads or half-assed face paint. Their appearances are hidden behind chin prosthetics, a full face of owl feathers, and dinosaur bird beaks. If it isn’t awarded an Emmy for Outstanding Prosthetic Makeup, I will sue the Academy.
Is Sexy Beasts absurd? Very much so, but perhaps no more absurd than modern dating itself.
You can watch this dating-show fever dream starting on July 21.