I can’t stop watching the UK TV show Naked Attraction.
It is the most extreme dating show I have ever seen. That is saying a lot as I vaguely recall late, late night channel surfing in a Tokyo hotel room many years ago and stumbling across a dating game show where a Japanese woman was full “spread eagle” with a partially peeled banana fully submerged into…her…as she waited for a male counterpart to consume the exposed portion of the fruit. It certainly was giving Veggie Tales a run for its money.
In a (very hairy) nutshell, Naked Attraction is founded on the idea that seeing someone fully and unabashedly naked before saying a single word to them is the best way to vet a first date. Host (or “Presenter” as they say in the UK), Anna Richardson, starts each episode with a reminder that Naked Attraction is the remedy to digitally enhanced photos and “exaggerated dating profiles.” Anna then drops in a rotating zinger, “We’re the dating show with more balls than Wimbledon,” and then quickly introduces the contestant.
Out comes a fully clothed Singleton who is looking for a date. Said Singleton gives a quick synopsis of what they are seeking in both gender and sexuality. They are then presented with 6 colored “pods” (Red, Yellow, Pink (but it’s really Purple, and it drives me insane that they call it “Pink”), Blue, Orange, and Green), each containing a fully naked body of a potential date. Round 1 reveals only the lower half of the bodies (waist down) via the front panel of the colored pod slowly retracting (floor to ceiling).
One of the naked pod bodies is eliminated after round 1, based solely on their lower half. People in the UK are typically much more polite on the surface than in the US. I bring this up because when someone has an exceptionally “small willy” (host Anna’s words, not mine) in round 1, the contestant leading the elimination will cite the candidate’s toenails, or the shape of their ankles as “the dealbreaker” instead of being ruthfully honest about the nightcrawler between the legs. It’s the juxtaposition of some of the ugliest dicks and balls you have ever seen (I promise) next to the hyper-politeness of the UK that makes this show a true gem. The show is also padded with anatomical trivia, surveys, and statistics that include artful animation and highly-calming, British narration. Think: The Great British Bake Off’s cartoon interstitials, but less “scone” and more…”scrotum”.
With each round, more of the naked body in the colored pod is revealed, followed by another elimination until there is just one standing soldier. It’s worth nothing, and I love this point, that when the bunch of 6 pod-bodies is whittled down to 2 finalists, the clothed Singleton contestant is then required to also strip down fully and reveal their naked body to the remaining nude candidates from the colored pods. This hook has undertones of equality that I appreciate.
It’s a real mixed bag of personalities and an even wilder tapestry of body types. Why can’t I stop watching it?
I admire the bravery of the people on this show and the honesty around what most of us (not all) are after. Raw attraction and physical gratification. It’s also worth noting that some of the couples from this show are still together! (Thank you, Daily Mail, for reporting on the things I truly care about).
For as much guilt and shame as there is around body types in our culture, there is equally so much guilt and shame around our animal instincts that contradict monogamy. No matter how much technology is replacing our brain functionality, we are still primal. Looks impact the trajectory of someone’s life, both personally and professionally. In some ways, this is shifting as far as what is considered to be “beautiful” (this is nuanced, as most of the shifts that commercial brands are making are led by consumer demands and a fear of “being canceled” rather than a true cultural shift. This makes most of the change we have seen over the last 3-4 years performative, and the currents of extreme social bias are still vigorous outside of evolving commercial advertisements).
I also love Naked Attraction because it’s a dating show that ends in…a date…and not some doomed marriage that leaves the contestants with PTSD and likely unemployable, and, because everyday people get naked on TV to liberate themselves from their insecurities. It’s a level of vulnerability I have never seen on TV and it’s surprisingly infectious. Maybe my body isn’t so bad…?
The show launched in the UK in 2016 and only just now made its way to a US Streamer (MAX). Luckily, it’s still in production and it’s only a matter of time before there is a far less entertaining US version, undoubtedly hosted by Nick Cannon.