A new Netflix dating show comes with an intriguing premise. The contestants look impressively weird, acknowledges Tim Batt, but just because something’s different doesn’t mean it’s good.
Sexy Beasts is a confusing show. Not for its conceit, which is adding full facial prosthetics to a dating show to test if love really is blind. It’s confusing for the missed opportunities this format could have cashed in on but didn’t.
I only had the chance to watch the first episode in advance of the series’ release and I’m not a big fan of reality TV. That said, I can still say with the confidence of a person who enjoys good telly, that this isn’t good telly.
Three men compete for the affections of one woman. Each gets an opportunity to win her heart with a date which we voyeuristically join them for. At the end of act one, she sends one home packing and at the end of the episode she picks the winner who gets to have sex with her (I’m presuming, but I didn’t need to connect many dots for this conclusion). A comedian delivers pithy commentary to tell us how to feel about each of the heavily edited people featured. So far, so familiar.
Sign up for Flicks updates
I will give the producers this; The twist of entirely obscuring the faces of contestants with truly Hollywood grade prosthetics so they look like a mandrake, a statue and a mouse is certainly different. I haven’t seen that on a dating show before. But I also haven’t seen one where everyone is forced to live off potatoes for the duration of their run on the show. Just because something’s different doesn’t mean it’s good.
The trouble is, unlike the potato show which I’m now deep in pre-production for, Sexy Beasts has a reasonable core idea but they stopped brainstorming immediately after coming up with hiding their faces. These people look impressively weird! I want to see them navigate challenges in public to have their interpersonal abilities assessed by the woman picking a partner. Make them deliver pizza, teach high schoolers, do cheese sampling at a supermarket. Will they cope? Will they learn anything?
We’ll never find out because instead, the show has put two incredibly boring people (in admittedly cool masks) on an empty rollercoaster. If you had any doubt that facial prosthetics can be absolutely weaponised for high entertainment, I invite you to watch the brand new season of a different Netflix series, I Think You Should Leave.
Sexy Beasts is dripping with the crisp, high-def look of a Netflix series but there’s nothing behind the slick veneer of high production values. One of the sole real moments of entertainment was when Archie (the statue) weirdly brags about correctly guessing someone’s age a fortnight ago as an example of how he’s becoming more intuitive as a person (!?) and then stumble over trying to guess the age of other people in the room he’s currently in. That’s the high-water mark of drama for the episode!
Just when you think it couldn’t get more predictable, the most obvious opportunity for a show like this is also missed at the end when everyone is revealed and SURPRISE—she’s secretly hot and SURPRISE so is every contestant. Get someone non-hot to be on the dating show! Isn’t that the point of this show? Why are we covering everyone’s face, if not to hide a normal-looking person among the TV-grade contestants.
Sexy Beasts lacks the heightened social dynamics that make The Bachelor bingeable. It doesn’t have the car crash-level high stakes of Married At First Sight. It yearns for the scandalously clad gym addicts that make Love Island masturbatable. It’s got one thing—cool weird masks. And that just can’t carry a whole show.