Courting controversy with stripped-down contestants, there's really no meat on this dating show's bone
When the first episode of Channel 4’s late night dating show Naked Attraction inevitably caught the eyes of viewers last month, it was decried as the end of Western civilisation. A couple of weeks and two episodes into its freshman run, it’s probably fair to say that no television show this boring could even be the end of Weston-super-Mare let alone the entire culture of the occident.
For those yet to get to grips with the show, the facts are these; presenter Anna Richardson, who’s amiably fronted many television broadcasts that border on bawdy in the name of sex education, invites a fully clothed suitor to stand in a studio, staring at six colour-coded sarcophagi. Slowly, titillatingly slowly, the opaque screen is lifted, revealing first some shapely ankles before coming to a stop somewhere around the navel. And there you have it, as many as six flaccid penises peering out through the screen, their accompanying scrota swinging slowly like some perverse Newton’s cradle.
The female suitor appraises their appendages, choking back giggles at the mention of girth. Pubic hair is discussed like it is topiary at the Chelsea Flower Show. One man is eliminated, exacting vengeance by reaching out for the most awkward hug goodbye in the history of television, his feet anchored to the studio floor, his arms and back hunched to prevent penile contact. The suitor, having already contrived some reason to humiliate (further) a naked man on national television, is powerless to the gravitational tug of his gonads.
The process is repeated, with more of the contestants’ bodies revealed, until the final test of true naked attraction – whether or not their speaking voices are annoying? Shows what you know, Ursula from Disney’s The Little Mermaid. With only two contestants remaining, it is now the suitor’s turn to disrobe. She returns, the two men comment on how much they like her breasts, she selects the winner and the other is banished from the studio with his tail between his legs. So to speak. Is this love?
All credit where credit is due to Channel 4, it has actually produced arguably the best and most enjoyable dating show of the 21st century, but make no mistake, Naked Attraction is not First Dates. Instead, it is tiresome and repetitive, relying on the cheapest of cheap tricks and making a tit out of all of us. When they do finally go on their date, it's even more banal than the previous round. What does it say about a show about naked people when the most interesting thing is the reveal of the outfit each contestant wore to the studio?
In order to add even the suggestion of some substance to the show, Richardson, who is both likeable and criminally underused, responds to ass cheek assessments with pseudoscience prattled off about the evolutionary benefits of “juicy” bums. This is beneath everyone. The only way to enjoy it is with other agape twitter users.
This is Thirst Dates, a meaningless exercise is exhibitionism. Richardson’s narration tells the viewers that in this day and age of app dating, perhaps the only way to distill pure attraction is to eschew the dick pic. Instead, replace it with a selection of the real thing in high definition. “She liked to dance, she loves music, that’s exactly what I’m looking for,” one of the dismissed males said, not really getting that the whole point of the show is purest form of physical attraction.
Or is it judgement? Certainly, there can be a lot said about the wisdom of putting a show like this on television. At a time when one half of the media is saturated by male-gazing images of perfect female forms. While the other half demands that now it the hour of the hourglass figure, proudly defying convention and demanding acceptance. Into that mix stand a dozen or so naked 20-somethings, their youth a blossom, chiselled and sculpted, smirking with self-satisfaction. There’s a lot to be said about how a show like this can affect viewers at home dealing with their own body issues. But really, Naked Attraction simply isn’t interesting enough a cultural talking point to merit its discussion.
After five minutes, it isn’t shocking or cheeky. It’s just boring. The honest truth about Naked Attraction is that when you strip back all the hullabaloo, its appeal very quickly runs bare.
Naked Attraction is broadcast on Channel 4 on Mondays at 10pm, with previous episodes available on All 4. To listen back to today's TV on the Radio segment from Moncrieff, you can play the podcast below: