SARAH MCCAMMON, HOST:
And finally today, remember back at the beginning of the pandemic when a Netflix dating show called "Love Is Blind" was all the rage? In that show, singles tried to fall in love without ever meeting face to face. Well, Netflix is at it again with a new series and a new species of blind love. It's called "Sexy Beasts." Based on a 2014 British show, this reality show sends a single person on three dates where everyone involved is wearing costumes. And when I say costumes, I mean alien-like prosthetics and animal heads.
(SOUNDBITE OF TV SHOW, "SEXY BEASTS")
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #1: You're the best-looking devil I've ever seen.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #2: This is really weird right now (laughter).
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #3: Would you count this as a weird experience for you?
(SOUNDBITE OF MUSIC)
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: Cheers.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: Cheers.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #4: So I like your fin.
UNIDENTIFIED PERSON #5: (Laughter).
MCCAMMON: Contestants don't find out what people look like underneath those masks until after they start making choices. As soon as the trailer for "Sexy Beasts" dropped this week, it was trending and had a lot of people talking, including Linda Holmes. She's the host of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour and joins us now to tell us more.
LINDA HOLMES, BYLINE: Hey, Sarah. Always happy to be with you to talk about what's really important.
MCCAMMON: Absolutely. So all that's out there so far is this trailer, but it's enough for us to talk about by itself, I think. Tell us what you know about the show.
HOLMES: So what I know about the show is really only what they show in the trailer and the fact that based on the format, you know, you have that one person. They get three dates. It's essentially an extension of not just "Love Is Blind" but even going back to, like, "The Dating Game." It's also going to be hosted or narrated, I guess, by Rob Delaney, who's a wonderful actor but who I think is narrating this in his capacity as a very silly comedian. So if you want a sense for kind of what they're going for tonally, I think it's that.
MCCAMMON: People seeing this trailer have had a lot of feelings, which they're sharing online. Why do you think it's gotten so much attention?
HOLMES: Well, I think you're partly seeing television promotion in the age of social media, meaning there's not really a central place like TV Guide or something like that that people go to to find out what's new on TV, right? So they try to get attention for things via Twitter, Facebook, whatever. So you have to have something that when people see it in a feed, it will stand out. So when you see a person making a declaration of emotion or something like that but they're wearing, like, the head of a beaver, then it's - people - it catches people's attention.
I also think there's a little bit of people treating things as more new than they are. This is not that different from, you know, if you made a bunch of people go to a Halloween party and pick a date. It's not that big of a deal. It's just, you know, put a thing over your head, and everybody meets each other. It's silly, but it's not that different from a lot of things that they've done before.
MCCAMMON: Yeah. So why this preoccupation with disguising people's appearances in these dating shows?
HOLMES: Well, you know, they always like to say they're doing a social experiment of some kind. They always like to say, we're finding out something about people. So it's always, you know, we're finding out the importance of looks versus personality.
MCCAMMON: So this is a sophisticated show, is what you're telling me?
HOLMES: Yes, it's sophisticated. They really should teach it in sociology courses, I think, is where they're going with this. It's going to be a very important study of human nature, so they believe.
MCCAMMON: Of course, you know, if you see this trailer, you can see people, you know, from the neck down. And a lot of the people, if not everybody on the show, appears to be fairly thin and fit, pretty conventionally attractive body type. So how much does this tell us about personality versus everything else that people look at with dating?
HOLMES: Oh, nothing. And it's exactly for the reason that you said. It's - you know, not only are these people who have fairly conventionally attractive bodies, but based on the people who you do see without their masks on, without their animal heads on or whatever, they're also fairly conventionally attractive in the face. These are people who all would, as far as I can tell, do perfectly fine on ordinary dating apps where everybody sees your picture. So it sort of is utterly beside the point, which - there's something poetic about the fact that this very silly thing is pointless anyway. They've kind of sabotaged even their own ridiculous notion. So, you know, I think it is what it is. You got to take it with several large grains of salt.
MCCAMMON: Does the buzz around a gimmick like this actually translate into viewership?
HOLMES: It certainly can, especially with a show like this where you don't have to really keep watching it. You just have to sit down and care about it for, like, an hour and a half. I think a show like this - they've already decided that they're going to do six and then another season of six episodes. So yeah, I mean, I think people will sit down and pay attention to it, and then I think they will forget that it ever happened. People are probably talking more about the trailer than they will about the show.
MCCAMMON: That's NPR's Linda Holmes. Thanks, Linda.
HOLMES: Thank you, Sarah.
(SOUNDBITE OF BLOODHOUND GANG'S "THE BAD TOUCH")
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