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April 24, 2014

'Dating in the Dark': The Latest Bizarre Reality Dating Show

by Kim Potts, posted Jul 21st 2009 4:00PM
Dating in the DarkWhat did we learn from last night's premiere of ABC's 'Dating in the Dark,' in which contestants meet in a pitch-black room before actually seeing each other and deciding if there's a love connection? We came away with these nuggets of wisdom: There are a lot of really desperate singles out there; in the Christina/Seth pairing, Christina turned out to be the creep; and, despite its unusual concept, the show actually makes for an interesting social experiment.

Of course, 'Dating in the Dark' is just the latest in a long line of reality dating series that have amused us, creeped us out -- or just plain horrified us. Remember these "gems"? -- By Kimberly Potts Dating in the DarkWhat did we learn from last night's premiere of ABC's 'Dating in the Dark,' in which contestants meet in a pitch-black room before actually seeing each other and deciding if there's a love connection? We came away with these nuggets of wisdom: There are a lot of really desperate singles out there; in the Christina/Seth pairing, Christina turned out to be the creep; and, despite its unusual concept, the show actually makes for an interesting social experiment.

Of course, 'Dating in the Dark' is just the latest in a long line of reality dating series that have amused us, creeped us out -- or just plain horrified us. Remember these "gems"? -- By Kimberly Potts

'Mr. Personality' -- The 2003 Fox series wasn't totally unlike 'Dating in the Dark'; a bachelorette was supposed to choose a mate from amongst 20 suitors who wore masks the entire time, so she'd get to know their inner hunkiness. The most disturbing elements of the show: the masks ... and the host, Bill Clinton's infamous intern, Monica Lewinsky.

Beauty and the Geek'Beauty and the Geek' Ashton Kutcher produced this 2005-08 WB/CW series that resembled a reality version of 'The Breakfast Club': Female beauties were paired with male geeks to learn more about themselves and others outside their usual social groups. And to win a share of the big $250,000 cash prize. (See also: 'Average Joe')

'Boy Meets Boy' -- The 2003 Bravo series found a gay man trying to find a mate from amongst a group of 15 potential boyfriends. The twist (and a rather cruel one at that): Not all of the dudes were gay; if bachelor James chose a gay man, he won cash and a trip. But if James was fooled by a straight-y, he won nothing and the straight guy got $25,000. (Other LGBT-themed shows: 'Gay, Straight or Taken?' 'A Shot at Love' and 'Transamerican Love Story')

The Cougar'The Cougar' -- A 40-year-old divorced mother of four tried to find love with a younger man in this 2009 TV Land series. Not to be confused with Courteney Cox's upcoming sitcom, 'Cougar Town.' (See also: 'Age of Love' and 'Kept')

Flavor of Love
'Flavor of Love' -- The VH1 series premiered in 2006, and, surprisingly enough, producers managed to round up three seasons' worth of women who were willing to make out with rapper Flavor Flav. And, for better or worse, we also have Flav and his celeb love match series to thank (or blame) for a lot of spin-offs. (See also: 'Rock of Love,' the whole 'New York' franchise 'Real Chance of Love,' 'Strange Love' and an upcoming reality dating series featuring New York reject Frank "The Entertainer" Maresca)

Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?'Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire?' -- The 2000 Fox series was one of the most controversial of all time, as barely a multi-millionaire Rick Rockwell (whose name sounded more like a 'Flintstones' character) chose nurse Darva Conger to marry him, right on the spot. The marriage, of course, failed, as Conger sought an annulment after the unconsummated honeymoon and later auctioned off the 3-carat diamond ring she'd "won" on the show. P.S. The show, which was watched by more than 22 million viewers, proved to be such an embarrassment to Fox that the network canceled a repeat viewing. (See also: 'Joe Millionaire' and the upcoming 'Rock of Love' spin-off 'Megan Wants a Millionaire')

'Married by America' -- The most outrageous of the reality dating series on which lonely hearts allowed others to help choose their mates, this 2003 Fox show charged viewers with calling in to vote on which contestants they thought belonged together. The match-ups were then sequestered together in a hotel for several weeks to get to know each other and were supposed to marry on live TV if the pairings stuck. Not surprisingly, no weddings resulted from the show. What is surprising: That anyone thought the same process by which viewers choose an 'American Idol' should be used to determine their life mates. (See also: 'Exposed' and 'Parental Control')

Watch a clip of 'Married by America'


'My Big Fat Obnoxious Fiance'
-- The 2003 series, which aired on -- of course -- Fox (we're sensing a pattern here), found two people charged with pretending to get married. If they convinced their families the marriage was real and convinced them all to show up at the nuptials without anyone objecting, they'd each win $250,000 and another $250,000 for their families. Little did fake bride-to-be Randi know that she was being duped, and in the end, producers rewarded her willingness to sell her dignity and her family's with handsome $500,000 checks. (See also: 'Hell Date')

Other reality dating shows skirting the edge of respectability (some clearly missing that mark) that come to mind are 'Breaking Up With Shannen Doherty,' 'EX-treme Dating,' 'The X Effect,' 'Next,' 'Science of Love,' 'Paradise Hotel,' 'Temptation Island,' 'Date My Mom' ...

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