If you’re like me, you’d probably think a single trailer is enough for you know exactly what you’re getting into with a show like Netflix’s Sexy Beasts. The premise is straightforward (if absurd) enough. Tired of being single, contestants slather on extensive makeup and prosthetics to put a little bit more “blind” in their “blind dates.”
If that’s what you think, then I was in your shoes once. Naive. Innocent. Secure in the belief that my imagination had more or less accurately conceived of the full scope of ridiculousness that a show with this basic premise could offer. I was wrong. Terribly, terribly wrong.
Truth in Advertising?
To its credit (I guess?), Sexy Beasts is pretty much exactly the show that it seems to be in the trailers. Yes, presumably single people don heavy amounts of prosthetics and makeup before engaging in blind dates to try to connect on a personal, rather than physical, level. Well…at least it’s not overtly not that.
But while that is ostensibly what should happen, the first episode alone fails that basic premise in some fairly fundamental ways. By removing the physicality from the situation, the contestants should – presumably, at least – be forced to rely on their personalities to either make or break the date.
With that in mind, one would think that the casting agents would have one clear directive: Find contestants with personality. Any personality. At all. It doesn’t even have to be good. It just has to be there.
It seems strange, then, that in the first episode of the series – the episode that should ostensibly sell the audience on the show’s raison d’être – there is not a smidgeon of personality to be found. Anywhere. The three men vying for the Lady Devil’s…heart? (this is indeed questionable, in no small part because the show makes a point during their introductions of stressing their favorite physical attributes below the neck) don’t have a speck of personality between them. The most memorable – and, frankly, probably the most appealing – thing about them is their makeup. The mouse spends part of his date channeling his inner Merriam-Webster. The statue confuses carnival games for intuition. And the baboon…well, in his words, he “tries” to be loyal. Be still my beating heart.
It’s hard to imagine rooting for any of the male contestants, but at least one could hope to root for the bachelorette whose…heart? (again, questionable) is supposedly on the line. It’s not that I found myself rooting against her. I just couldn’t really root for her, either. She had a bad bushel of apples from which to choose, its true, but I’m not entirely sure she didn’t find a way to choose the worst of the lot, in the end. (On the plus side, after slogging through a season of The Bachelorette, I couldn’t claim to be surprised that the contestant named Bennett was insufferable enough to jump directly to the sex question on a show that’s supposed to remove sex from the equation.)
An Excess of Ego
I’ll give them this: What the contestants in the first episode of Sexy Beasts lacked in personality, they more than made up for in ego. Generally speaking, I find talking about one’s own hotness falls prey to the law of diminishing returns. The more you profess how incredibly attractive you are, the less you’re likely to be so in the flesh. And boy oh boy was that point proven in the show. None of the male contestants could seem to resist talking about how hot they were. If only the Lady Devil knew, she’d surely choose them! I then…well…I realize that beauty is in the eye of the beholder, but they’d remove their makeup and prosthetics, and I’d channel my inner Michael Bluth: “Her?” Or, rather, “Him?”
So they didn’t have personality, and they didn’t have looks. But the Lady Devil connected with the baboon on some level because even getting a mouthful of fur didn’t stop her from making out with him. The guy who indicated he struggles with fidelity. The guy who talked about sex on the first date. (And, hey, I’m not a prude. However, the whole premise of the show – and her introductory monologue – is that she was sick of relationships being so heavily focused on the physical and was looking for a deeper connection. Given that premise, jumping immediately to, “What’s the weirdest place you’ve ever had sex?” seems crass at best.)
But maybe I’ve got it all wrong and, all evidence aside, she did end up scraping the bottom of the barrel hard enough to find a personality worth being attracted to. Maybe her “connection” with Bennett wasn’t about some latent Disney-instilled primate-centric sexual attraction. After all, when he removed the makeup and prosthetics to reveal he looked like the unholy love child of Simba and a de-furred Beast, she didn’t run screaming for the nearest exit.
Aw, what do you know? Sexy Beasts may prove true reality-show-based love can exist after all.
Sexy Beasts is streaming on Netflix.