Why do individuals watch courting reveals? Neglect high-minded rationalizations about modern sociology and mating rituals—the true purpose isn’t deep. To be blunt, it’s simply plain enjoyable to ogle handsome individuals as they preen for each other. All the time has been, all the time shall be. The brand new Netflix actuality collection Attractive Beasts, a reincarnation of a British program of the identical title, understands this fundamental fact and engineers its episodes round it, all whereas pretending to reject it. As a substitute of judging one another’s seems proper off the bat, the contestants don elaborate make-up and prosthetics to cover their faces, saving the hot-or-not reveal till the tip of every episode. It’s a canny premise. Alas, Attractive Beasts is extra attention-grabbing to consider than to observe.
In every set up of Attractive Beasts, which premieres at present, three suitors vie for the love of 1 particular person, with everybody reworked right into a creature to obscure their look. A pleasant panda will get courted by a tin man, an alien, and a bull; a wolf should select between an owl, a troll, or a dinosaur; and so forth and so forth. After a primary spherical of dates, there’s a primary spherical of rejection, with a loser despatched residence. After the second spherical, the method repeats. After every rejection, viewers and individuals get to see what the particular person despatched residence seems like. Then, on the finish, the profitable suitor meets their match face-to-face. The result’s a present purporting to be about taking seems out of the equation that’s, in truth, a present about giddily anticipating whether or not somebody you’ve hit it off with in dialog is as smokin’ as you’d hoped. (The contestants are inclined to favor body-conscious clothes, with tight attire or biceps-outlining shirts meant to sign attractiveness. It looks like dishonest, however oh properly.) The present doesn’t redirect contestants’ focus away from seems a lot as make them extra fixated on unearthing hotties.
When the Attractive Beasts trailer got here out, its bonkers make-up artistry and high-concept gimmick have been sufficient to generate a thousand furry-joke headlines and scores of Twitter reactions. It seemed like a positive guess for Netflix. The Masked Singer, a vocal efficiency competitors present, has an analogous conceit, with contestants hiding themselves behind entertainingly elaborate disguises, and it has proved a monster hit for Fox. I’ve my doubts about Attractive Beasts’ endurance, although. The ultimate product is simply too boring. Host Rob Delaney, a gifted comic, is so toned-down as narrator, you can’ve advised me an AI was doing the voice-over and I might have believed you. The make-up is genuinely spectacular—if solely they’d included some form of behind-the-scenes bonus episodes in regards to the strategy of taking it on and off!—however the dates are bland, with fill-in-the-blanks banter. Casting went gentle on villains and oddballs, leaving a likable however boring roster of affable individuals who politely prod each other’s chin prosthetics whereas guffawing.
To the final particular person, everybody on the present is precisely as generically handsome as an actor in a dish cleaning soap industrial, which is comprehensible (choosing clearly bad-looking individuals to take part would’ve been merciless). Nevertheless it signifies that it’s a present the place the reveal is all the time “Oh, seems they have been sizzling, rattling.” That will get previous fast! In distinction, the masked singers on The Masked Singer are all the time C- to Z-list celebrities, which makes it a significantly extra gripping and assorted guessing recreation.
If something, Attractive Beasts is the uncommon present that looks like it might’ve labored higher as a Quibi providing. If every episode was, say, 5 minutes lengthy, it’d be a stronger product, because the premise and the tip reveal are the one compelling elements. However whereas it doesn’t get excessive marks for leisure worth, it’s notable for the way forthright it’s as a courting present. Regardless of grabbing consideration for its outlandish costumes, it options courtship conduct that’s much more down-to-earth than its courting competitors predecessors. One contestant admits she’s solely there to interrupt a dry streak, and she or he is visibly relieved when she’s eradicated. An American participant notes that selecting a suitor from England makes an actual relationship between them unlikely, however she had enjoyable anyhow.
I’ve all the time discovered reveals like The Bachelor and its spin-offs to be excruciating watches; the agreed-upon narrative that contestants are genuinely trying to discover long-term dedication below such contrived circumstances is, for me, concurrently unbearably cynical and unbearably ridiculous. With just a few exceptions, the contestants on Attractive Beasts brazenly embrace the ridiculousness and cynicism of its premise. They look like searching for a enjoyable time, to get pleasure from their very own 22 minutes of fleeting Netflix fame. There are just a few contestants, just like the party-girl panda, who pay lip service to eager to make an actual romantic connection on the present, however most individuals appear to view their appearances as a dedication someplace between swiping proper on Tinder and occurring a 3rd date. That is refreshing, and it lowers the ethical ick issue—however it additionally lowers the stakes significantly. As a substitute of a dramatic, tear-filled rose ceremony, the beasts of Attractive Beasts are dismissed fairly casually and stroll away with out arduous emotions. There’s no synthetic heartbreak. However as soon as the novelty of seeing individuals dressed up like legendary creatures and zoo animals wears off, there’s a determined lack of spectacle to watching two pleasant-looking and agreeable individuals agree that they’re each pleasant-looking and agreeable. If the showrunners of Attractive Beasts have been as breezily sincere as its contestants, it might have had a unique title. However, after all, Reasonably Engaging however Surprisingly Boring Beasts doesn’t have a lot of a hoop to it.
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