I watched the premiere of VH1’s Dating Naked over the weekend, and it was about as floppy as many of the blurred out genitals during the course of the dates. The premise is achingly simple: one girl and one guy meet and go on a naked date, and then a proper date with clothes. The next day, each go on a date with a different person (also naked), ending with each date being brought back to the house for subtle inspection by all parties. This happens one more time. So on the last night, there are three girls and three guys, usually all naked, in the pool. The spin isn’t terribly original, nor are any of the jokes made about nudity during the surprisingly endless 30 minutes.
The truly unfortunate part is that, in this episode in any case, the initial woman falls for the initial man much harder than he for her; I can’t tell if the show’s production was adept at finding the right obsessively emotional girl, or if they just picked one of many. The show makes the tacit statement that women are more emotionally needy than men, and through careful casting and a splash of alcohol, it achieves its effect. Men are cast as untamable lotharios, and women as needy vixens. What’s new?
But the initial pair doesn’t enter quite so jaded. Each speaks to the camera of looking for The One and finding someone who is genuine, but as soon as gorgeous naked bodies come into play, a lot of the emotional criteria fall by the way. By the end of the episode, the initial Adam and Eve pair must each pick one person whom they’d like to date later; they are free to pick each other as well. I won’t ruin the ending, but needless to say, the production of the show rests soundly on the scant bits of blur on otherwise completely naked, mostly attractive, Americans.
Like all reality dating shows, this focuses on minor bitchy dramas and sexual farces to keep it moving; it’s unclear how much is scripted and how much might actually be sincere, but it feels like sincerity is beside the point in a show where all the contestants are nude. It’s safe to say Dating Naked isn’t breaking any new ground, but it was still more interesting than any other dating show I’ve seen on television in the past few years. Though I doubt the show will create any kind of fandom, I’ll probably still be tuning in next week.
Jonathan May watches too much television, but he’s just playing catch-up from a childhood spent in Zimbabwe. You can read his poetry at owenmay.com, follow him on Twitter at @jonowenmay, or email him at email@example.com.