The 90s and early oughts were the Wild West of the Reality Dating frontier. That mad dash to be the “next big thing” resulted in LOTS of seriously terrible (yet highly watchable) shows that riffed off the original Dating Game as well as some (sort of) original ideas. The one thing they all shared in common? The formats were so simple that they could really crank out episodes. One of these shows and a bag of Cool Ranch Doritos could very easily become your whole weekend.
Many of these fledgling attempts at Bachelor-hood didn’t last more than a season, but they’ll live FOREVER in our lazy, vaguely self-hating hearts. See if you remember wasting your young lives watching these classics.
1. Change of Heart
This late nineties spin on The Love Connection sent each member of a couple out on a date with some single, home-wrecking, sassy-pantses. The couple was then made to decide if they wanted to stay in the relationship or have a “change of heart” and go out with some “ho they barely know.” (Don’t Google the quote. No one says that. I made it up.)
The premise? Everybody hangs out in a group, has fun, laughs, and tries to tear each other down. Then the man or woman in question chooses the one they want to hook up with. Doesn’t it seem like a distilled a version of what’s happening ALL THE TIME?
3. 5th Wheel
Four singles go out on a double date. They all get to know each other. They start to get comfortable. Then they introduce “The 5th Wheel,” who comes in and tries to disrupt the connections the four have been forming. For some reason, there’s usually some people-licking involved.
Bzzz! is, like, REALLY complicated. It’s basically speed-dating with a loud, loser-eliminating buzzer. Then there’s a compatibility quiz that the potential couple has to take and they win money towards their date. It’s, like, exhausting to watch.
5. Singled Out
The show that made a star of Jenny McCarthy! Or, rather, the show that Jenny McCarthy totally carried with her uniquely obnoxious charm, but otherwise sucked the big one. 50 random single dudes, 50 random single ladies. They go through random, wacky elimination games, competing for the one guy or gal sitting in the big chair. It kind of reminds me of Where in The World is Carmen SanDiego but with lots of implied sex. Anyone?
I remember staying up late and watching this show as a kid, praying that things wouldn’t be like this when I grew up. Two greasy guys go on dates with three big-haired ladies. Then they guess who said what about whom.
This show is brilliant. Two people go on a date. Four of their friends sit in a control room, watch the live footage and talk smack. They can also send their friends messages. TELL ME YOU DON’T WANT TO BE IN THAT CONTROL ROOM! Well, whatever, I do.
8. Blind Date
The most annoying, yet most watchable of all the dating reality game shows. Two people go on a blind date and the creative team puts a bunch of silly captions, dumb animations and cartoon “thought bubbles” over it. For some reason, you can watch 10 consecutive episodes of it without batting an eye. It’s freaky. It’s like the Teletubbies for older kids.
Did we forget one?! Share it in the comments.