Love at first kiss

Tv-trend: ‘dating experiments’ popular in 2014 get sequel in 2015

(Videoclips to this blog )
In 2014 dating shows were once again a tv-trend and probably that will also be the case in 2015. Last year many networks aired so called social experiment dating shows. This development was probably caused by the rise of popular dating sites that link people based on all kinds of computer algorithms. Where the traditional dating shows start by getting to know each other and end up with kissing, sex and marriage, the social experimental dating shows reverse this. Most of the new formats start e.g. with kissing, naked bodies, scientific matches or marriage, and end up with knowing each other. An important question to be answered for the dating shows: is a first impression or computer match a correct predictor of a good relationship?

First the match
MTV format Are you the one? (USA, Jan.2014) added many new elements to the traditional dating format. The candidates have to ascertain whether their own choice for a partner corresponds to that of the computer. The most exciting part is that during every episode the candidates have to predict whether their own choice matches the computer’s choice. The only information candidates get is the number of correct matches but not with whom. Furthermore, it appears to be difficult to figure out which candidate matches, because sometimes various candidates fit the same profile.
In Love Prison (USA, A&E, Sept.2014) online matched couples have to find out whether there is a match in real life. After staying together on an island for a week the couples decide to break up or stay together.

First the kiss
In Love at first kiss (Netherlands, NPO3, Oct.2014) the social experience of a first kiss determines whether there will be a sequel in the form of a speed date. At the start of the program the persons approach each other, start kissing and make independent from each other the decision for a follow-up meeting. If both candidates agree to meet again, one of them enters a room where the other candidate is waiting. It’s an thrilling moment whether the door will open or not. If this is the case the candidates get 2 minutes to talk and decide to date. The kiss moments usually last an eternity and puts the viewer to the test: mostly makes the viewer feel a bit awkward.

First marry or engage
Married at first sight (Denmark DR3 2013) is another version of a social experiment dating show. First a team of experts match 6 single people who marry total strangers. After 6 weeks of marriage they decide to stay or separate. This show has a double-barreled option: a match plus wedding before getting acquainted. The series in Denmark was so successful that the channel management decided to move next series to main channel DR1.
In 2014 the format was picked up in different territories, like in the USA by channel FYI. In the Netherlands RTL4 wanted to air the dating show, but competing channel Net5 aired a rip-off with a twist called Het geheim van een goed huwelijk (The secret of a good marriage, Sept.2014). The added element consisted of a comparison between the experimental group (of the program) and a regular married group concerning the duration of the relationship. After just 6 episodes the program was taken of air because of the disappointing ratings.
A comparable format at American channel TLC titled 90 Days fiancé (May, 2014) added a time pressure element. This international dating experiment follows couples with a partner from abroad, who have to decide to marry before their 90 days visa expires. They have to overcome language barriers, learn to cope with friends and family and finally have to decide to marry or send the fiancé home.

First meet naked
In Adam zkt Eva (Adam looking for Eva, Netherlands, RTL5, March 2014) already matched couples for a date meet each other naked at a deserted island disconnected to the outside world. If the couples feel attracted to each other at the first confrontation they depart to a tropic resort. As in American format Dating Naked (USA, VH1, July 2014) two naked persons meet at an island but they are also confronted with other possible dates. At the end of week the candidates choose their favorite person to go home with. The naked dating concepts perform well on television, both programs will return in a second season. The series will also debut with the title Adam sucht Eva-Gestrandet im Paradies at the German channel RTL-Television in 2015.

Interactive dating show
Dutch channel SBS6 also launched a social experiment dating show in 2014 called Is this Love?. This dating format isn’t structured the other way around like the formats mentioned above. Is this Love is an interactive dating show in which singles (living in a villa and followed 24/7 at live streams) are dating online in a sort of ‘The great Dutch date-off’. The program was cancelled because of lack of interest. Probably this dating show wasn’t surprising enough.

One can conclude that ‘dating with a twist’ will stay popular in 2015. The American channel Bravo already announced the launch of the format Friend to lovers about people dating their best friends: will the relationship survive? So keep up with this trend in 2015!
(Videoclips to this blog )

Agnes Dijker
Charles Vaneker

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