Headed into 2021, the wild world of reality TV has been made even more uncertain by pandemic-impacted production schedules. Yes, The Bachelor will go on as planned; RuPaul’s Drag Race is airing episodes now; and Big Brother hasn’t slowed down since that one house found out about COVID-19 weeks after the virus swept the globe.
Still, we don’t have return dates for plenty of popular shows, including early 2020 hits Love is Blind and The Circle. For some Netflix subscribers, that means the unscripted entertainment well has begun to run dry when social distancing practices are most vital.
Enter Are You The One? — Seasons 1 and 2 of which began streaming on Netflix in mid-December, quickly sparked conversation on Twitter, and entered and exited my queue in a single, sleepless, drama-filled weekend I will cherish always.
The first few seasons of Are You The One? are finally on Netflix and you should watch it because it is literally the best and most wild dating reality show there has ever been. It’s bonkers in every way. It’s incredible.
— ✨ A L E X A ✨ (@AlexaEtCetera) December 28, 2020
The MTV dating game, which places 20 or so singles in a tricked out mansion to compete for a group prize of $1 million, began airing in 2014. Here’s the format:
It’s hot people trying to do math and follow their hearts — at the same time.
Before entering the house, participants from across the United States are assessed by a team of psychologists and professional matchmakers. They are then anonymously matched with another member of the cast.
To win $1 million, the group must work together (while drinking, fighting, and making occasional visits to a chamber actually called the “Boom Boom Room”) to determine who everyone is meant to be with over the course of ten weeks.
During the challenge, couples who have been on a date (the prize for winning one of the mini challenges, which can range from obstacle coureses to hot dog eating contests) can be voted to the “Truth Booth,” where they find out if they are or are not a match. If the match is correct, then the pair leaves the house and moves into the honeymoon suite — bringing the group one step closer to the prize. If the match is wrong, then the pair has to “break up” and date different people in the house.
At the end of each week, correctly matched couples and the singles still in the house come together for a weekly meeting akin to The Bachelor‘s rose ceremony. They pair up, lock in their selections, and then are told via search lights how many, but not which, matches they got right.
The genius of this particular challenge stems from its ability to combine standard reality dating drama (jealousy, neediness, cheating, etc.) with the daunting prospect of factorial based statistics. It’s hot people trying to do math and follow their hearts — at the same time.
Things are made especially complicated when certain cast members discover they have more than one match, or suspect they may have matched with someone they don’t like. Think that super petty, yet iconic fake makeout from Too Hot To Handle, but it’s worth $1 million. Brilliant.
The stunning combination of speed dating, complex probability, and goofy challenges is still going strong today, with rumors of a Season 9 in the works. The first two seasons available on Netflix were shot in 2013 and 2014, and offer only a sampling of all this bonkers franchise has to offer.
Still, they’re tremendously binge-worthy, made even better by the option to subsequently google where the cast is today. This is the one, dudes. You’re welcome in advance.
Are You The One? Seasons 1 and 2 are now streaming on Netflix.