reality tv

Dating Naked: VH1’s New Reality Dating Show Mixes Dating and… Naked People

Dating Naked

Jonathan May

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 owen.may@gmail.com.

Tough Questions: What’s the Longest You’ve Ever Stayed Up in a Row and Why?

question-mark

Every week we ask everyone who hangs out around here to answer a tough question. This week:

What’s the longest you’ve ever stayed up in a row and why?

Rules are simple: go to sleep. Well, don’t, actually. You remember that episode of The Adventures of Pete & Pete where the kids tried to stay up so long that they went back in time? This is basically the same thing, really. Most people have pulled one all-nighter, but have you pulled two in a row? Or more? Are you dead right now because you’ve been up for two weeks?

Alex Russell

I used to go two or three days without sleep in a row all the time. I hated sleep as a teenager; I used to be worried I was missing something cool whenever I went to sleep. I now know that an infomercial for a hot plate doesn’t count as “something cool” but that kind of wisdom comes with time. My longest stretch was in grad school when I went more than three full nights without sleep. I had to finish a particularly complicated project and I hadn’t had time to read everything I wanted to before starting it. The final night involved a four pack of Red Bull, a box of off-brand NoDoz from the gas station, and a crying jag on a staircase at 7 a.m. when I couldn’t figure out what a book about nationalism and farming was trying to say. All-nighters for education are really stupid, and I’ve forgotten almost everything about that final night other than how manic I was.

Jonathan May

I, like most Americans since the advent of Netflix, am prone to binge-watching TV shows online. Reality competition shows like Project Runway and America’s Next Top Model are my jam, and I’ve seen every episode of both. But I was recently (like two weeks ago) introduced to So You Think You Can Dance, which falls safely in line with my main TV binge interests. I’m on day three of no sleep as I compose this. I’ve watched more people laugh and cry and dance in the past few days than probably the rest of my life combined. Needless to say, I feel really weird, both physically and emotionally. Also, I’ve become almost uncannily able to predict the winner once they announce the top 20 dancers. I have one episode left, and I’ll definitely watch it as soon as I get home. As was often said in our high school, “You can sleep when you’re dead.”

Brent Hopkins

The longest I have stayed up in one sitting was around 60 hours and that was due to traveling. I was flying from Korea to Hawaii to visit my cousins and had two insanely long layovers in China and Japan. I couldn’t sleep on the flights because the seats were so tiny and by the time I arrived in Hawaii it was 9 a.m. and there was no way I could sleep then. I kinda went through a daze of delirium but my sleep schedule was on point once I woke up the next day.

Andrew Findlay

I have never missed more than one full night’s sleep. I had one prepared about the time I stayed up all night at a friend’s bachelor party. He broke his arm, and I had to drive his car home for him hungover on no sleep, but most of the time when I miss sleep, the word “party” is not involved, so I selected something more representative. I intake media at an alarming rate. School let out in late June, and I have already used that time to read five novels. With video games, I actually play fairly rarely. I can go weeks without turning on my console, but that is because when I do, the game consumes me. This is not a problem often, as the majority of games clock in around 15-20 hours, which translates to just one to two days where all my waking moments are spent playing. But Skyrim, oh Skyrim. It does not end. Ever. The first weekend I got it, I started playing on Friday, stayed up all night, brewed coffee continuously, and did not shut down the machine until late on Saturday. By that time, I had entered an altered state of consciousness. At one point, I had to go buy eye drops because my corneas were sticky from being constantly open. Not my proudest moment, but there it is.

Gardner Mounce

I can’t function without sleep. I never saw pulling an all-nighter in college as a rite of passage like some people do, and I’ve never stayed up for more than one night. I hate the idea of not sleeping at the end of the day. I stayed up all night at a birthday party and was the one who kept suggesting that we all go to sleep. And I stayed up all night for my bachelor party, and probably was the one who ended up suggesting that we all go to sleep.

America’s Next Top Model: Cycles 20 and 21

America's Next Top Model, Cycle 21

Jonathan May

Cycle 21 of The CW’s America’s Next Top Model starts at the end of August this year. Going along with the 2.0 reinvention theme from last cycle, this latest will feature both male and female models, competing for the top prize. After much brouhaha, Ms. J. Alexander will return to judge alongside Tyra, the fans, and the fabulous Kelly Cutrone. Being from Memphis, I’m proud to say we have a male Memphian representing the River City in the competition. And because Tyra loves to shake it up, this upcoming season will also feature a female African-American contestant with vitiligo—I’ve seen her photos posted on the ANTM Facebook page, and she is gorgeous. I’m glad to see that Tyra keeps pushing the fashion envelope as far as the mainstream is concerned; it’s the same reason I like the United Colors of Benetton ads for their “whole-world” perspective on what is beautiful. America’s Next Top Model over the years has addressed and codified many forms of beauty, but what keeps it from becoming formulaic is the insistence on a model who can actually function well in the industry, perhaps the most important factor.

But let’s take a look at how the introduction of guys to the competition went in Cycle 20. Hormones raged as soon as the final contestants were decided. Romances quickly developed between various pairs; one particular couple, Marvin and Renee, were even termed “Marnee” like so many celebrity pairs. Cycle 20 also proved that the men could be just as bitchy as the women; for example, Chris, the hot and emotional brunette-turned-blond, drains the other contestants constantly with his notes about dishes and yelling about others’ behaviors. I personally blame him for Nina going home as early as she did, because she would spend so much time listening to his emotional quibbling.

This cycle also heightened the suspense by leading up to an elimination (or comeback) right as the episode ends, so you have to tune in the following week to see the results. While this may be an aggravating move for television viewing, when you binge-watch online it makes much less of a difference. One particular episode, however, wherein two contestants are brought back almost broke the emotional will of Phil, the bearded contender. He broke down while being eliminated, only to be told that tonight was the night someone was being brought back, upon which he broke down again. Then Tyra announces that Alexandra is coming back, and Phil breaks down again because he thinks that’s the end. Then Tyra says that she only just announced the female comeback contestant and has yet to pick the male. Phil breaks down again at that point. When he finally loses coming back to Jeremy and breaks down for the final time, I fully expected him to suffer a total nervous collapse. Such is the drama of reality television.

Ultimately, the winner was determined more by virtue of the sponsors (Guess Jeans, Nylon magazine) than by sheer talent. I won’t spoil the results in case you haven’t watched, but let’s just say I wish there were more variety in the lineup. Does a guy stand a chance of winning America’s Next Top Model? I’ll be tuning in this August to find out.

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 owen.may@gmail.com