Ever wanted a reality show filled with beautiful, sexually fluid people making out with one another all in the name of finding true love? If so, Are You the One’s eighth season, “Come One, Come All,” is your dream come true.
For the first time in the MTV reality dating series’ history, the cast of 16 — and I cannot stress this enough — gorgeous 20-somethings are all queer. And I 👏 am 👏 here 👏 for 👏 it.
The show’s premise is a little complex: Each of the cast members, whom have been deemed awful at relationships, live in a house in Hawaii and have been paired by experts with another housemate as a “Perfect Match.” The goal is for all 16 housemates to find their other half — and so most of the cast just make out with each other (and occasionally head to the ridiculously named “Boom Boom Room”) to see how compatible they are. But don’t let the whole “who-is-their-true-match” drama get in the way of the fact that this is a show of many, many hot queer humans hanging out on an island just trying to find romance and intimacy in this cruel world.
And let’s face it: past queer dating shows have been lacklustre at best, and offensive at worse. Never forget the truly awful spectacle that was A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila, in which the titular TV personality searched for a partner amid a series of men and women in an overly sexualized, male-gaze–y display of bisexuality. Before that was Boy Meets Boy, a dating show with a Bachelor format with the unnecessary twist that some of the suitors competing for gay leading man James were actually straight.
Are You The One, meanwhile, presents queerness without overt sexualization, and each cast member treats their companions’ identities with respect. It’s, for once on television, a truly safe space.
No one, for instance, balks at cast member Basit, who uses they/them pronouns. Then there are the heartwarming moments: Kai, a trans man, gives himself a shot of T on national TV in the first episode; Max, from Ohio, grapples with his internalized homophobia with Justin; Kari opens up about her past traumas in an abusive relationship with Kylie. Amid all of the beautiful people doing beautiful things on a beautiful resort, there’s actually some substance.
And, at this point, I need to know who everyone’s Perfect Match is.