Netflix dating shows faceless – but traditional beauty remains the norm

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Appearances aren’t everything, says Netflix’s new blind dating show. sexy monsters – But experts say the beauty on TV still goes deep.

The series, which premiered on Wednesday, is the latest in a long line of stunt-based dating shows. In this case, the contestants’ faces are obscured by ultra-realistic prosthetics so that they look like different animals or fantasy creatures when they meet each other on dates.

Like the previous Netflix song love is blind And the ABC series in 1965 dating gameWhere the contestants were divided by section, sexy monsters He tries to convince viewers that appearance is not necessarily a factor when falling in love.

But CBC News spoke to three experts who said it’s just a sweet idea that hides the facts about dating psychology, television rules, and even the way pop culture deals with race.

Dating shows gender values ​​in the cast

Renewed trend It could be a reaction to the perception that reality television is contrived, said Sherrill Thompson, an assistant professor in the School of Creative Industries at Ryerson University in Toronto.

“If you see a show like BSC“You know a really good-looking blonde will win,” Thompson said. “So she… is trying to get rid of the idea that the show is superficial and that no no no, these people really fall in love with each other and they don’t base their decision solely on their looks.”

Two exciting monster racers enjoying drinks together. Display layers on facial prosthetics, but there are other ways to measure physical attraction. (Netflix)

But Jessica O’Reilly, a Toronto-based sexologist, told CBC News that hiding the contestant’s face is like… sexy monsters It does not remove the possibility of judging someone based on their physical traits.

“It can be a fun approach to dating, but it won’t revolutionize our tendency to see appearances first,” O’Reilly said in an email.

sexy monsters Layers on makeup and prosthetics, but that weirdness extends only to their faces: contestants still meet each other, chatting closely and getting to know each other’s physical behavior.

Facial expressions, body language and eye contact are a few things that prosthetics cannot hide, and all of these are elements in building attraction and connection, she said.

The psychology behind anonymous dating

love is blind It was a hit on Netflix last year, with Variety Reports In April 2020, the show had been sampled by 30 million member families since the first five episodes aired in February 2020.

Steve Jordans, a professor of psychology at the University of Toronto Scarborough, said the show reminiscent of the anonymity of — and editing — internet chat rooms.

But he said that in real life, the stakes are higher.

“If you really had no idea who you were talking to and there was a chance that you would be physically terrified of someone’s appearance, I think there would be a lot of fear,” Jordans said.

“So I think it’s a safe way to do that, you know, to make a blind date, because it’s not really as blind as a real blind date.”

Love is Blind, one of the most-watched series on Netflix at the start of the pandemic, matches singles looking for love without being able to see each other’s physical appearance. (Netflix)

O’Reilly said most dating shows are filmed to European beauty standards and unobstructed bodies. who – which Means Many of the runners are white or light-skinned, thin and young, with smooth blond hair and blue eyes.

“The idea that beauty, skin color, race, age and size can be made irrelevant is simply unrealistic,” she said.

“[Contestants] talking about their looks, pointing out their muscles, pointing out the fact that people only see them for their beauty, and in some display formats, [others] They can see their bodies.”

Racial contestants sidelined on dating shows

These “blind” dating shows also come at a controversial time for reality television, as viewers are noticing the way people of color are treated on different series.

On Love Island in the UK, a show where contestants residing on the island must mate in order to “survive” and win a cash prize, the person of color was Finally selected During the show’s pairing party for six consecutive seasons.

and Rachel Lindsay from BSC franchise business, criticize the show again and again, Saying that as the first black bachelor on the show she was portrayed as an “angry black female”.

Rachel Lindsay was the first black woman to be awarded the Bachelorette on the thirteenth season of The Bachelor, but she wasn’t happy with how it was portrayed. (Mitch Hesth/ABC/The Associated Press)

O’Reilly said traditional dating programs often intentionally highlight micro-aggressions or play into blatant racial stereotypes.

“It’s so integral to the acting, programming, production and editing process, that racism is so ingrained in our culture,” she said.

“Obviously we’ve been seeing more acting in front of the camera lately, which is fine, but who’s at the table where the real decisions are made — from the production team to network executives? Most are still white.”

Thompson, who researches media representations and visual culture as they relate to blackness, agrees.

“The contestants may change,” she said. “But tone and not focus.”

More to track …
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