I love reality television. The Real Housewives, Queer Eye — I love it all. I probably shouldn’t admit that, lest I lose all credibility, and to ensure that I don’t, here are some books I have read recently: Animal Farm; Pride and Prejudice; Lean In: Women, Work, and the Will to Lead; and Pedro Páramo.
Now that you are convinced of my academic prowess, I will confess that none of those books are as interesting as the TV show Are You The One? (AYTO). For those of you who haven’t seen the show, I’ll break it down.
Basically, the premise is that 20 hot young singles — in the early seasons, 10 heterosexual guys and 10 heterosexual girls — are each paired up with one ‘perfect match’ through an algorithm without knowing with whom they are paired. All 20 people are then stuck together in a house where they share one giant bed, and each attempt to find their ‘perfect match.’
Each week, they participate in challenges. The winners of those challenges get to go on dates and choose who to go on their date with. One couple that goes on a date gets sent into the “Truth Booth,” which reveals if the couple inside it is a ‘perfect match,’ and then at the end of the week, either the guys or the girls each select who they think their ‘perfect match’ is.
The contestants all pair off, and then, for every correct pairing, a floodlight comes on. If they get all 10 couples right, all 10 floodlights light up and they win a million dollars. If you’re confused, I don’t know, read the Wikipedia page.
You may be thinking “easy peasy! Just figure out which of the 10 options you have the best connection with!” except it never happens like that.
You see, these people are hot, but they are also idiots.
In season one, Shanley and Chris T find out in episode one that they are not a match, but still decide they are in love and ruin things for everyone else. Spoiler alert: they do not end up together.
The girls will kick and scream about anything: boys, attitudes, and beds. The boys steal each other’s stuff and scream, “Get out of my face!” They repeatedly get drunk, cry, and fight, and hold lingerie parties without prompting.
You will cringe as Brittany insists that Adam loves her when he is literally right there saying that he does not like her. You will cheer as Amber and Ethan pick each other over and over again. You will be weirded out when contestants have sex in what is legitimately called the “Boom Boom Room.” You will get confused upon starting the second season because you are not used to the new people!
Am I saying that this is high-brow entertainment? No. What I am saying is that the high-brow-low-brow divide of entertainment is bullshit, so just watch whatever you want.
If my summary didn’t get you, here are some other reasons you should watch AYTO.
Admittedly, I have only seen the first two seasons of this show because they’re the ones available on American Netflix — which I definitely didn’t access by lying about my I.P. address.
However, AYTO has a shockingly diverse cast and is also shockingly unproblematic — well, not unproblematic, just surprisingly not that problematic. Karamo Brown of Queer Eye hosts one season. Season eight actually features all LGBTQ+ people, and matches can be anyone of any gender.
Best of all, one couple from season one has since gotten married, so I think it’s safe to say that AYTO actually works. This is a joke, but the couple is very cute together.
AYTO has laughter, tears, and even some blood. It’s the kind of show your dad will insist is hot garbage, but still stand and watch for 40 minutes. If that isn’t a ringing endorsement, I don’t know what is.