Many credit MTV with giving birth to reality TV as we know it today when The Real World premiered in 1992. By that logic, those wide-eyed kids from TRW New York are the great, great, great, great grandparents of the kids on Are You The One?, MTV’s current iteration of “stick a bunch of horny kids in a house together and see what happens when things get real” genre. Well, ladies and gentlemen, I am here to tell you that AYTO is NOT your great, great, great great, grandmother’s reality show. I mean, it kind of is, but not really.
Here’s a trailer for the season 7 (yes, there have been 6 seasons, where you been?) which just premiered a couple of weeks ago.
Superficially, AYTO is a dating show where 22 singles with a history of poor relationship skills are paired with a mate, on paper, by professional matchmakers using math and science (or, as I suspect, a dartboard). Then they are all mixed up and move into a house together and are supposed to figure out who their perfect match is by getting to know one another.
Not only are these attractive young people trying to find love (and their 15 minutes), they are also trying to win a million dollars, which they will split if they figure out all the correct matches. Each week they have a matching ceremony where they try to pair up and the host goes through some elaborate hocus-pocus with beams of light shooting into the sky for each correct pairing. If there are no beams, then the entire group’s kitty gets slashed by half.
It’s dumb, and it doesn’t matter. What they’re really there for is to get fucked up and fuck. They are all packed into a beautiful house in a tropical location and supplied with enough alcohol to make the cast of The Jersey Shore blush/flush. This season they’re in Hawaii, last season New Orleans; they’ve also been in Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic (I guess anywhere the cast can comfortably walk around half naked will do). Even though they put them up in lovely mansions, they all sleep on the floor in a big pile of mattresses.
They also have an official boudoir where they can fuck called The Boom Boom Room. But these kids are horny as hell and any couch, corner, hot tub, pool, lawn chair, hammock, counter, closet, shower, tub, or floor will do. On the one hand, it’s kind of refreshing to see so many of the young women on the show really owning their sexuality. But on the other hand, there are far too many dudes springing kisses on them without consent (I have not seen this happen in the reverse).
AYTO makes me feel old. Why, in my day, when you were cast on a reality show, you had to have some kind of real-life job for them to put under your name and you were expected to exhibit some measure of personal growth. But not these kids! It’s all theme parties (a pirate theme yielded only sexy lingerie, bared abs, and a couple of funny hats), binge drinking, fist fights, slap fights, poorly matched foundation, name calling, betrayal, blowjobs, tears, and twerking. The producers on AYTO let the cast get away with stuff most reality shows’ insurance carriers would not. AYTO is The Handmaid’s Tale meets The Mole, meets The Bachelor/BacheloretteBig Brother, meets Every Parent’s Worst Nightmare. And you know what? I really enjoy it. It’s compelling, low stakes drama. And it’s the only way I can keep up with the youth of today.
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