In the midst of single season comes the opportunity to enjoy love without any strings attached. The rise in popularity of romantic reality television brings with it astounding stories of love, drama and cringe.
With Valentine’s Day approaching, what better way to embrace the atmosphere than to sit down with delicious snacks to binge the best (and arguably worst) shows of the season.
“First Dates” is a British reality series that follows a couple through their first blind date. The participants are first set up in a restaurant, knowing nothing about the other until they meet. In fact, the entire restaurant is made up of couples on their first dates. The show follows the couple through their dinner conversations as the audience gets to know each person.
As the show brings to light the most realistic first-date experiences, viewers — as if people-watching — see the growing attraction or disdain between partners as they navigate the awkward conversations involved with getting to know each other.
After the couple finishes their meal, they discuss their thoughts on the date and whether they would like to see the other again. If you are looking for a more practical, heartwarming series, “First Dates” is the epitome of the dating show you crave.
Love Island UK
Imagine the stereotype for dating shows: if you are thinking of attractive models that always talk about sex, then this show is perfect for you. A group of contestants, aka “Islanders,” live in seclusion within a villa. Each week, they must couple up with another contestant or be up for elimination. Throughout the series, games and challenges test the Islanders, including the forced re-coupling that allows for couples to swap partners. Contestants compete for a prize of 50,000 pounds for the winning couple, but are subject to elimination through public vote and being left single during a re-coupling. As a reality game show, this dating series is perfect for those searching for a competition show with a dash of drama and romance, plus the benefit of attractive contestants.
Bachelor in Paradise
It may be surprising that “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” is not listed. Instead, its sister show “Bachelor in Paradise” finds its way onto the must-watch list. As opposed to a show with one woman dating multiple men, the best contestants from across “The Bachelor” and “The Bachelorette” seasons are invited to a Mexican villa. These contestants get a second chance at love by trying to couple up with each other. While it still includes the classic rose ceremony, each week alternates between who makes the decision: the men or the women. Date cards, twists and drama are wrapped up in this series. Of course, the show ends with the iconic engagement episode, offering the remaining couples a chance at forever. You’ll find yourself rooting for multiple couples and tearfully saying goodbye to the seemingly perfect relationships.
Just like “Bachelor in Paradise,” this South Korean reality show follows a similar premise while being hosted by a panel of celebrities. A group of men and women join each other on Inferno, a remote island. None of the contestants can reveal their ages or professions while on Inferno. Each night, the players chose one person they are interested in to travel with to Paradise, a luxury hotel. The contestants who choose each other are sent here to spend the night together and reveal their identities. Throughout the series, games and conversations elicit drama and reactions, with live reactions from the panel of hosts. At the end of Inferno, the contestants decide who they would want to pair up with to leave the island, forming couples and breaking hearts.
Love is Blind
Romance is associated with physical attraction. As a twist on romance, this series attempts to find out whether you can still find love when this is taken out of the equation. A group of men and women are separated into neighboring pods to have one-on-one conversations through a wall. After finding their emotional connection, each man proposes to the idealized woman of their dreams. Once engaged, the couples are introduced to each other in person. From then on, they continue to get to know each other, as well as the other couples, through a resort trip and as they live in an apartment. For four weeks, the couples face physical and emotional dilemmas until they reach their planned wedding day. The dramatic ending altar scene shows whether each partner decides to break off the engagement or say “I do.” If your interest lies in a more realistic portrayal of relationships and love aside from physical attraction, head to Netflix and start your binge.
90 Day Fiancé
In case your preference lies in cringey, illogical romances, “90 Day Fiancé” is the perfect choice for your next show. TLC introduces the dating series that brings long-distance relationships spanning across the country together for their first meeting. Each partner from a foreign country receives a K-1 fiancé visa that expires in 90 days, forcing the couple to decide whether they would like to marry each other. Most episodes magnify the conventional fears of internet dating and provide a front seat into an ever-increasing emotional distance between the pairs. Most episodes illustrate the red flags of dating and end in explosive break-ups. If you’re yearning for trashy romance, this is the perfect fix.