Sexy Beasts

Sexy Beasts Tries (And Fails) To Subvert Reality TV Dating

Dept. of Monsters Mashing


Sexy Beasts, Netflix’s brand new reality dating show, tries to take the superficiality out of dating by covering up their contestants in incredibly intricate prosthetics. The idea being that these individuals might look past looks, connect on a deeper level, and form relationships that go beyond just being skin deep. It’s a fascinating idea, but does it actually do anything different? Does it give us anything new?

Umapagan Ampikaipakan: I think there was something of a disconnect between what this show was sold as and what this show actually was. I went into this thinking that it would feature folks from all walks, of all shapes and sizes, of every colour, age, and type. I figured that if this was going to be some sort of social experiment in which both the audience and the contestants were being challenged to fall in love with a person’s inner beauty, then surely they would have assembled a more diverse sampling of the population.

They didn’t.

So I came up with what I feel is a more accurate description of what Sexy Beasts actually is. It’s hot people, going on dates with other hot people, without being able to tell just how hot anyone actually is. Basically, this is a show that asks if good looking men and women can set aside their shallow standards and form connections based on personality alone. While being confident in the knowledge that no one that they’re going on “dates” with is anything short of being objectively attractive. 

Bahir Yeusuff: Unfortunately, Sexy Beasts is just another shallow dating show, only with the added gimmick of highly elaborate and detailed masks. Now, we’re not talking about the kind of thing you’d buy at the supermarket for Halloween. This is some Hollywood quality makeup.

UA: Remember how Hellboy 2 felt like Guillermo Del Toro’s audition piece for The Hobbit? Well, the makeup work on Sexy Beasts feels like these guys were auditioning for work on Star Trek. I’ll be honest, the only reason I sat through these six episodes was because I wanted to see what else they would do with those prosthetics. The scarecrow was amazing. I still have no idea how they hid all of Cassie’s hair underneath that frog getup. All of it was just jaw droppingly good. So much so that those eventual reveals, of what everyone “really” looks like, felt genuinely surprising.

But that’s just me being superficial. God knows I don’t have anything nice to say about the actual content.

Regrettably Skin Deep

Sexy Beasts

BY: Despite the implication of a “deeper connection” and “something, something, personality,” Sexy Beasts does none of it. This has got such a thin veneer of “more than just beauty,” that it’s barely any better than Too Hot To Handle

Which is unfortunate! Because they really could have done something different here! Instead of trying to lean into just “entertainment,” they could have truly done something with all of that effort they put into disguising these individuals. It could have been more than just three dates over two days. They could have truly leaned into the social experiment aspect of this, and taken a proper look at the idea of dating in the 21st century.

In one of the episodes, someone actually brings up how shallow it is to meet people via apps and how swiping isn’t about connecting on a personal level. Sexy Beasts refuses to do any of that and just goes down the “LOL! Look at how funny this is, a dolphin and a cricket are on a date, but they’re both hot people so it really doesn’t matter” route. It is borderline infuriating if I thought about it for more than a couple of seconds.

UA: And that’s the problem with this series. In that it isn’t consistent with its own logic. How could anyone possibly form a deep and meaningful connection after one and a half dates? Even if you’ve swiped right on someone based entirely on their appearance, surely one charmless encounter is enough to tell you that it isn’t going to work out. Irrespective of how “hot” the person was.

All of this just makes Sexy Beasts feel a little half baked. 

In that way, Too Hot To Handle actually had more to say about modern relationships. Everyone there knew exactly who and what they were. All of them were players and proud of it, but by the end of their time together, the show had seemingly broken them down by way of forced celibacy. Who knows whether or not it lasted, but at least it resulted in some kind of narrative. In Too Hot To Handle, the gimmick was a lot more effective. 

BY: Here the gimmick just feels a little one note. Nothing about it is surprising or truth telling in any way. Now, I don’t mean to compare at all, but something like last year’s Love on the Spectrum was the exact opposite of this. I went into that thinking it was going to be a tasteless and gawking look at young adults on the autism spectrum trying to find love. And it was exactly that. But it was also so much more. It truly showed the show’s participants as people who want what everyone else wants, and that is to find true love. That blew my expectations right out of the water. Especially since it could have so easily been done wrong. Sexy Beasts just feels slight and flimsy. Why is this even a thing?

Why Is Sexy Beasts Even a Thing?

Sexy Beasts

UA: Why indeed?

Listen. I’m not embarrassed to admit that I watch a lot of reality television. I find a lot of them to be pretty insightful about the human condition. I know how they’re made. I understand that so much of it is manufactured in some way or other. But despite that, I believe that human beings, when placed in such scenarios, will eventually, inevitably, show us something real.

With that in mind, I fail to see the value, entertainment or otherwise, in something like Sexy Beasts. It’s incredibly repetitive. It’s painfully predictable. And there aren’t any real stakes or consequences for any of these people. Sure, Rob Delaney is a fantastic narrator (I could honestly hear him blather on for hours), but even that isn’t enough to elevate this beyond anything more than basic.

BY: And doesn’t that say something about the show. That the two good things we can agree on are that the prosthetics are amazing and that the narrator is entertaining. This is such a strange thing that exists. I’m also glad each episode was barely 30 minutes long, and that there were only 6. 

A Furry Obsession

Sexy Beasts

BY: Could Sexy Beasts have been a dating show for furries? SHOULD it have been that instead of what we got? We will never know, but if the producers pivoted to make it about furry dating life, I will give it a second chance.

UA: I think you’re on to something there! I feel a pitch deck is in order.

BY: Think about it. A show where furries, in their furry costumes, have to more than just get down and rub uglies. They have to date. They have to actually get to know each other and develop a connection.

UA: What’s more, it would also be an interesting look inside a sub-culture that isn’t really featured much in the mainstream. 

BY: I already have the tagline. “I may want to fuck a teddy bear, but I still have feelings.”

UA: That’s gold! That’s money in the bank right there! Come on Netflix, give us a call, you know you want to.

Sexy Beasts was a wasted opportunity. It had all the elements to be something unique, and fun, and god forbid, enlightening. Instead, the producers seem to have gone for every low hanging fruit in reality TV that it just comes off as derivative and dull. 

At one point, maybe about half way through the third episode, I wondered if this was just some elaborate parody of reality dating shows. But that was me overthinking it and giving this a lot more credit than it deserved.

Sexy Beasts is now streaming on Netflix.

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