Being on a dating reality show is like committing to relationship in fast forward mode: Attractions grow quickly, tight bonds mold fast. Since there are no other distractions in life such as work, family or friends, break-ups also happen quicker, and for the exact same reason.
MTV’s “Are You the One?” doesn’t just copy this intensity, it doubles up on it. Because of the hefty prize money at the end, and the need for not just one couple, but to 11 to find their perfect match, the demands for seemingly simple reality TV show are actually much more difficult than it seems. Why? Because people have feelings.
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On Wednesday night (Jan. 18), the unthinkable happens. During the matching ceremony, the cast has a Blackout: Zero pairings were a perfect match. And it’s as shocking for viewers as it was for the guys and girls, a few which when they locked in, we thought were for sure they were a match. But we were wrong, and so were they. Just because a couple has a connection doesn’t mean they are are a perfect match. And therein lies the rub — aside from the fact they just lost a half million dollars from their grand prize.
(Sidenote: We’d bet our own money that MTV will create a scenario for them to earn at least part of that prize money back. Or else everyone is going to quit, and have one big drunken orgy for the next 8 weeks. These guys and gals may not be the brightest crayons in the box, but they know $500,000 split 22 ways ain’t much to write home about.) This has happened before — but never with such a financial toll on everyone.
So money aside, here’s the problem, and why this show is so addictively entertaining: The people we see crying after tonight’s Blackout, the ones that are devastated after learning this news, are not sad about threat prize money getting docked. They are heartbroken to learn that the person they were vibing with, the person for whom their gut told them was “The One”… Isn’t.
This type of news can make someone question their instincts, and lose confidence in themselves. Making matters worse, they have to go back to a house in which they must now watch their former crush try to connect with someone else. That’s brutal. This show is a game, but these young twenty-somethings catch real feelings — and instantly think they’ve found something real, only to find out abnormally quickly that they haven’t.
It’s understandable why Alicia is having a meltdown. Maybe on paper — or by whatever science MTV uses determine such pairings — they don’t add up to be the perfect match, but once the series yells, “Cut!” he and she can live happily ever after. This is a pipe dream. Regardless, she was putting her genuine self out there, and she thought she found her man. But then not one day after getting the negative Truth Booth results, she has to watch Andrew hook up with other girls.
“Are You the One?” is not for the faint of heart. The hope that someone will fall in love with you with no matter the obstacle is honorable, but at this stage in the post-college, Unsure What I’m Doing with Myself stage of life — it’s heartbreaking to watch. We’re seeing 22 people realize life is not a rom-com, in a slow-motion, brutal collision. That money means more to most that having a real relationship. All of us want to believe in that fairytale kind of love, and sometimes it does happen. But most of the time, and much more similar to real life dating, there’s always someone only willing to throw it away for the possibility of something better.
“Are You the One?” airs on Wednesday nights at 9 p.m. ET/PT on MTV.
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