Love competitive dating shows? Are You The One is the cross between The Bachelor and Real World you didn’t know you needed. Honestly, I thought I would hate it. I’m so glad I was wrong. It’s the perfect outlet to set your worries aside because you’ll be way too busy yelling at all the dumb decisions the cast members are making. The new season premieres Wednesday, August 15th at 10pm on MTV.
Every reaction is somehow more dramatic than the last
10 men and 10 women are put up in a dope house in a beautiful location for 10 weeks to find their perfect match. The twist is, each person in the house has been pre-matched by expert matchmakers before they arrive and, through the course of the show, must figure out who their match is. They can’t have any pens, paper, or electronics that could help them keep track of any potential matches. If, by the end of the 10 weeks, all of them have found their perfect match, they split a million dollars. If they fail, no money and, potentially, no true love.
Each episode sees two or three couples going on a date after everyone competes in a Survivor-like challenge. Sometimes they’re answering trivia questions about their housemates, sometimes they’re completing feats of strength or athleticism, and sometimes they’re just eating something nasty.
While the winning couples go on their dates, everyone left in the house votes on which of the dating pairs will go into the Truth Booth, basically a free opportunity to find out if one of the couples is a perfect match. It’s the only way to guarantee that a pair is a match and, if they are, they leave the house and get to stay for the remaining weeks in a Honeymoon Suite.
At the end of the episode, there’s a Match Ceremony. On alternating weeks either the guys or the girls call out who they think their perfect match is. They lock in until everyone is chosen, like dodgeball, and then the number of correct matches is revealed via beams of light. Whatever you’re picturing, it’s even more dramatic. If there are no correct matches during the match ceremony, they ‘black out’ and lose half their money. If all ten are correct, they immediately win the game.
I’m sure you can imagine what goes on in this house: a lot of drinking and hooking up. Everyone is so blindsided by finding their perfect match and falling in love, sometimes they forget to play the game. Confirmed ‘no matches’ sometimes hook up to the detriment of the house, because then they’re not looking for their perfect match. It’s frustrating to watch because JUST USE SOME STRATEGY. But with nothing to write down their tactics, and everyone constantly drunk, it’s easy to lose the thread.
I never expected to like this show. I’ve never seen The Bachelor and I don’t care for Big Brother or The Real World but somehow it works. I get stupid invested. I yell at the idiots when they refuse to play the game correctly and cheer when a couple with a lot of chemistry is a match.
There are a few drawbacks of the game. It can be hard to get to know some of the cast in just ten episodes. This season while watching the finale I found myself saying “Who?” at a girl I could’ve sworn I ‘d never seen before. And because the teams are divided by gender the show is super straight.
Are You The One is the trashy reality dating show I didn’t know I was missing but I’m glad I gave it a shot. It’s ridiculous and rowdy and a lot of fun.
Sweet/Vicious just wrapped its first season on MTV, but it only took half an episode for me to become incredibly invested. A cross between Veronica Mars and Jessica Jones, Sweet/Vicious is a vigilante show that focuses on campus assault.
There’s a scene about 20 minutes into the pilot in which the two girls, Jules and Ophelia, still strangers, drive away from a crime scene. They have a a body in the trunk of Ophelia’s car and they need to dump it, fast. To decrease the tension, Ophelia turns on some music. Defying Gravity comes on and there’s a slight hesitation where Ophelia may change the song but she lets it play. Ever so tentatively, the girls begin to sing along. Then, suddenly, they’re singing at the top of their lungs and you know instinctively, “oh shit, they’re friends now.” It’s rare to see a show establish friendship and camaraderie so quickly and easily but the show manages with that one pure moment of female bonding.
Jules Thomas is a beautiful blonde sorority sister who moonlights as a vigilante on the fictional Darlington University campus. After being assaulted at a frat party, fearful the administration won’t give her justice, she takes matters into her own hands. Jules takes it upon herself to strike the fear of God into any man on campus who has gotten away with assaulting a female student. Her hit list comes from the graffiti in a campus women’s room that tells others which men to avoid.
Ophelia Mayer is the green-haired stoner who becomes Jules’ literal partner in crime after accidentally discovering her secret identity. Ophelia is a genius who slacks off, secure in her hacking skills and her parents’ wealth. She sells pot out of the record store she lives above and in which her best friend works.
My favorite thing about this show is undoubtedly the way it portrays friendship. For as much as Jules and Ophelia are partners at times, they don’t actually know that much about one another. They’re radically different people brought together over this one set of circumstances and the show takes its time to befriend one another. They fight. They apologize. They care, they just don’t always know how to express it in terms the other can understand or accept. Ophelia works to relate to Jules, who is at her most vulnerable. The two are an unlikely pair but they’re obviously ride-or-die.
Harris, Ophelia’s best friend, is a gift. Played by Brandon Mychal Smith (Sam on You’re the Worst), he’s a law student who’s trying to discover the truth about the campus vigilante. He’s a driven, thoughtful person and a wonderful balance to Ophelia. Their friendship brings me joy, especially when they have their friendship anniversary celebration or he lets her sit on his shoulders to take a hit from her 6-foot bong.
Sweet/Vicious can be hard to watch. Many of the ten episodes that make up the first season have a warning for viewer discretion attached as the show doesn’t shy away from depicting sexual assault. The show is unflinching as it depicts many ways that assault can happen – quietly, drunkenly, violently, between friends – but it never victim blames. We see Jules on the path to recovery and as she really comes to terms with what happened to her. The show obviously cares about its subject matter; nothing is done purely for shock factor.
I don’t necessarily know how to talk intelligently about all the ways in which the show handles sexual assault. But I do know that the show is thoughtful and it’s important. There hasn’t been any news yet about whether the show will be picked up for a second season, but do yourself a favor and watch it. The subject matter is serious, sure, but that doesn’t stop the show from being charming as hell. The show has a beautiful tone; it’s funny and absurd and smart. It may be hard to watch at times, but never at the risk of being good, entertaining television.
Sweet/Vicious is available to stream and on demand with MTV.