5 Dating Shows That Deserve A Restraining Order
At some point, TV executives noticed the entertainment value of being seated near a first date going horrifically wrong, and smelled money in the air. After all, there’s nothing people love more than being able to point and laugh at someone on TV that they can tell themselves they’re better than. There’s also an element of every person on earth who absolutely despises the act of dating, an embarrassing rigamarole we’re all forced to go through like an army obstacle course if we want anyone holding our hand on our deathbed.
As the dating show evolved, though, and more morally palatable gimmicks were burned through, things started to get a little icky. Throw that in with a period of reality television where the aim seemed to be to find the exact point at which the human stomach turns, and you get some thoroughly questionable programming. Suddenly, answering an embarrassing question on national television seemed like an absolute cakewalk compared to the public emotional autopsies that dominated the “dating show” genre.
Here are five dating shows that deserved a restraining order…
I Wanna Marry Harry
A dating show where the ultimate prize was a member of the British Royal Family, Prince Harry? That’s an automatic slam dunk. After all, who doesn’t want to be a literal princess. Of course, contrasting the royals’ obsession with optics and proper decorum with the tar pit that is reality television would seem to be at immediate odds, and make you wonder how they ever got them to agree to that. The answer is: They didn’t.
They just got an actor who looked sorta like Prince Harry, in that he had red hair and was generally British. They then attempted to convince 12 women that he was the real Prince Harry, something that turned out to be a little harder to swallow than they’d expected. So, when a bunch of the contestants immediately became highly suspicious that he wasn’t the real Prince Harry, what’s a production crew to do? Well, to send them to a fake therapist who would gaslight them and tell them they were crazy for thinking it wasn’t him. The show only made it to four episodes before being canceled.
Boy Meets Boy
At first, hearing about an LGBTQ+ dating show where a gay man selects from 15 available bachelors that debuted all the way back in 2003 would make you think it was ahead of its time. Boy Meets Boy on Bravo certainly portrayed itself as a forward-thinking effort meant to increase visibility and show America a genuine queer love story. The bachelor in question, James, had the same hopes, saying before the show premiered that he wanted people to see that “we’re normal people with normal jobs, normal friends, looking for love and happiness just like everyone else.”
Unfortunately, he wasn’t privy to the spicy twist the producers had added, which was that half of the 15 gay men he was courting were straight men pretending to be gay. Ah. Well, there go your brownie points, Bravo. You’re going to be shocked to learn that the genuinely gay men on the show, James especially, didn’t react well to the reveal. Interviewed after the fact, James said that he “felt betrayed,” which is an incredibly fair emotion to feel immediately after being betrayed.
Well, we can at least give points to VH1’s Dating Naked for honesty, especially compared to Boy Meets Boy. Contestants knew pretty much exactly what they were signing up for, and you’d hope that there wouldn’t be much of a twist involved outside of the kind caused by sitting down awkwardly. It was exactly what it sounded like, with all the contestants looking for love where the sun don’t shine. VH1 tried to dress it up (pun unavoidable) with a whole lot of grade-A hooey about how it would make people drop their barriers and promote honesty, etc., but I’m pretty sure that wasn’t in the elevator pitch.
The show ran for two seasons, but pretty much everyone agreed that it was more awkward than anything. Although a lot of the contestants were models, which makes sense, you still have to remember that even the most chiseled bod is hard-pressed to look sexy while doing things like climbing onto an ATV. Apparently, sunburns and mosquito bites were a big problem, but not nearly as big a problem as when the censors missed a necessary blur and showed a contestant’s actual genitalia on television.
Shot At Love with Tila Tequila
A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila is an absolutely cursed rat king of aughts culture. A weird, gross reality show about people who want to date a Myspace star, relating any part of it has serious “let’s get you to bed, grandpa” energy. The show tried to spin itself as something more than the mental equivalent of high fructose corn syrup by featuring the fact that Tequila was bisexual, so there were contestants of both sexes competing for the affection of the early social media star.
The chances of this show aging well were on par with an open milk carton in a parked minivan. Somehow, incredibly, it still managed to become worse with time by virtue of its star later coming out as a straight-up Nazi, something that I guess none of the suitors thought to ask about. If you want some idea of how deep down the rabbit hole Tequila went, she’s still banned from Twitter today. Do you know how hard that is?
Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?
The show Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? was gross, but not one generally beyond the pale. It featured a bunch of women willing to marry a man sight unseen based simply on the fact that he was a multi-millionaire. The already somewhat nauseating premise and televised sham marriage took an even darker twist when it turned out to be the only show on this list that included a genuine restraining order, one that had been filed years earlier against the multi-millionaire in question by a past partner for threatening and assaulting her.