Netflix’s Blind Date game show ‘Sexy Beasts’ is deeply silly and a bit bright
Reality TV has come a long way since roommates argued in an apartment paid for by MTV. Over the decades, we’ve seen reality TV shows launch pop stars, dance thrills, and even turn a grandiose real estate mogul into another sort of national disgrace – far more dangerous. Reality TV shows have evolved into more specialized fields, like Forged in fire, I have arrived!, and The battle of the big flowers. Dating games have been around even longer than reality TV, titillating audiences with double senses, vicarious thrills, and the crushing blow of getting dumped in front of a national audience. So it was only a matter of time before we got something like Netflix Sexy Beasts, a blind competition with a touch of Confront to burst.
The formula is for the most part familiar: 3 foreigners compete for a date with a single eligible bachelor. The first round is a speed dating in a chic pub in England, where the trio take turns trying to impress. A knockout round will eliminate an underperforming competitor. The other two each get a solo date with the chosen single, before a final decision is made. Then there’s the simple but odd twist: They all wear heavy prosthetic makeup, so appearance can’t be a factor in that decision. Their real faces will only be revealed after they have been eliminated or secured their match.
At first glance, this is stupid. On the one hand, you can still see the person’s body, and most of the candidates presented are undeniably in shape (to borrow from British slang). For another, it’s a dating show. This cottage industry has been fueled by pretty young things for longer than its competitors have been alive. The likelihood of a beaver’s deer teeth or a dolphin’s vent being removed to reveal an uggo has never been a remote possibility.
However, Sexy Beasts offers a lot of chatter about how this setup is to move beyond the superficial. In introductory interviews, contestants get poetic about what they look for in a partner and often complain that their good looks are more of a curse than a blessing. (Poor things!) They also casually mention working as models, clearly proclaiming their preference for big asses, and flexing their beefy biceps at every opportunity. But hey, they are totally there to find a soul mate and forget the superficial!
Comedian Rob Delaney happily points out these hypocrisies as the show’s sarcastic narrator. Gamers aren’t the only punchlines, however, as it will also feature self-deprecating foot fetish jokes and attraction to a leopard-looking woman. But to be clear, this isn’t a show about furries or their fetish. At the most, a provocative panda asks his bull on a date if he would do it with the mask on. He claims, but behind all that makeup, it’s hard to determine if he’s into the kink, into her, or just for sex in any condition.
These wild metamorphoses are the main draw of the show. It is undeniably hilarious to see young people in their twenties trying to flirt while being tackled into a face full of owl feathers or carrying the waddle of a rooster like a pair of flattened testicles on the chin. The best candidates are not those who find love or lust, but those who lean on cartoonish appearances. Accessories to the bachelorette panda whose googly eyes and chaotic brand of seduction turned a Jersey Girl into one BoJack Cavalier character straight out of Hollywoo. Shout out to the darling doe who stuffed her muzzle into a wineglass to try to sniff before drinking! Above all, well done to the editing team who managed to get the Kuleshov effect reaction from these monstrosities.
To hide facial features behind these creatures, makeup artists tap the massive muzzle of a mandrill, the beak of a dinosaur, the large eyes of a frog, or the antennae of a mantis. It is Masked singer energy, where the outrageous is preferred to the capacity to emote. These looks would not impress the judges of Confront, a series of competitions passed too soon where aspiring effects makeup artists created incredible creatures out of clay, rubber and paint. It also means that subtle facial expressions are lost, turning many contestants into dead-eyed rats with blank expressions. The editing team manages to take even those mundane faces and give them context, pairing them with flirtatious flirtations, grin-worthy come-ons, and painfully awkward moments. So a literal stone face can say a lot. Still, Delaney’s voiceover does a lot of the heavy lifting, creating narratives out of what often boils down to vibrations.
Again, this show is stupid. On top of all the nonsense, his stakes are comically low. The producers paired youngsters from the UK and US on a few sloppy dates in weird costumes to see if the love springs forth. We only see until their first meeting once the makeup is washed. Every couple is thrilled because HEY! You don’t look like a literal troll! But the idea of a relationship beyond those vacations in a rural English town is rarely discussed. Still, there is a creeping sparkle in all of this nonsense.
Ladle a little and Sexy Beasts plays like a satire of the dating shows subgenre. You have seen wild dates in exotic places. You’ve heard singles give blowjobs. But have you ever seen a Mandril kiss a demon? Or does a beaver competitively carve ice and then ask for a “beaver kiss”? Have you ever heard a man, looking like the ugliest rhino in the world, sincerely proselytize the powers of “sex kung fu” on a horse-drawn carriage ride through the countryside? You won’t get this shit The single person.
Surely you miss a lot of beautiful accomplished people now who make a cattle call to impress a hot doofus in pursuit of true love? Sexy Beasts mocks the feigned sincerity of such shows by ignoring the possibility that there is a future in the works. He sneers at the popular lie that looks don’t matter by asking thirsty singles to shake up their belongings while dressed as crones, scarecrows, aliens and barnyard animals. Then it still gives us a line-up of beautiful people, who are clearly as puzzled as we are by this experience. If not, more ! And this is where the simplest pleasure of Sexy Beasts, his schadenfreude.
If these daters turned out to be average-looking people who don’t have flawless skin and excellent hair, there would be some real nastiness in the disclosures. Basically, even if they won, the joke would be kinda on them. Because all of the actors are good looking, we can laugh at the absurdity of the show without laughing at someone for something they can’t change. Instead, we are invited to laugh at their choices.
Of course, you might not be the handsome doctor, the dazzling model, or the suave hip-hop dancer. But at least you don’t waddle like a rooster to mark a second date. Is it a little pleasure? Sure. Did you expect something more than Sexy Beasts?
Sexy Beasts is now on Netflix.
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Source of header image: Netflix