The six weirdest reality shows streaming right now
In honour of Netflix’s The Ultimatum, we’ve rounded up some of the strangest and most sadistic brain candy on television
By: RAYNE FISHER-QUANN
I’m a big believer in the idea that there are no guilty pleasures. “Good taste” is an outdated construct and I don’t want to feel shame for anything I enjoy! This philosophy is great in theory — and truly does work when it comes to things like Taylor Swift or Hallmark Christmas movies — but even I have to admit it’s hard not to feel a tiny bit embarrassed about the quantities of shitty reality TV that I consume with every spare second of my free (and even unfree) time.
My most recent obsession has been Netflix’s Love Is Blind, a bizarre “social experiment” that sees couples get engaged before ever seeing each other’s face, and it’s through that binge-watch session that I found out about The Ultimatum, Netflix’s newest surreal reality endeavour.
The series premieres on April 6 and follows real-life couples who disagree about marriage. The couples will be given an ultimatum and, by the end of the show, will have to choose between getting married or splitting up forever — and they’ll be bombarded with other potential matches throughout the series to make their decision even harder. It’s absurd to the point of bordering on sadistic, and yes, I will be watching every episode!
But while you’re waiting for that to drop, you shouldn’t have to miss out on a second of over-produced romantic melodrama. We’ve rounded up some of the weirdest, scariest and most ridiculous reality TV shows available to stream right now — and don’t worry, we don’t judge.
Love Is Blind Where: Netflix What: Series, 10 episodes, 60 mins. When: Now Genre: Reality
Why you should watch: This addictive reality show shocked viewers and made headlines when it premiered in 2020. It follows a group of singles who “blind date” in isolated pods with the goal of getting engaged before ever seeing each other’s faces — and whether you buy into its claims of being a transformative social experiment or just accept it as batshit reality TV, it’s must-see viewing.
The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On Where: Netflix What: Series, 10 episodes When: April 6 Genre: Reality
Why you should watch: This extreme reality dating show differs from the Netflix formula by tracking down warring couples instead of singles looking for love — here, one half of every couple is ready for marriage while the other is not so sure. The show gives the couple an ultimatum to decide or break up on air and (in case that wasn’t stressful enough) has each person date and even live with other potential love matches before making their final decision. Yikes!
Too Hot to Handle Where: Netflix What: Series, 29 episodes, 36–43 mins. When: Now Genre: Reality
Why you should watch:Too Hot to Handle was one of Netflix’s first wild dating shows, and perhaps its most addictive — the controversial reality series has spawned several seasons and international spinoffs since its premiere in 2020. The premise seems almost too easy: a group of unsuspecting singles are offered a prize of $100,000 to not have sex with each other for a month. To most of us, being paid money to not have sex seems like the deal of a lifetime (I’ve done that shit for free for way longer than a month!), but the immaculately curated cast of Too Hot to Handle never fails to break the rules.
Temptation Island Where: Crave What: Series, 36 episodes, 60 mins. When: Now Genre: Reality
Why you should watch: As time goes on, these reality shows start to sound more like genuine psychological torture. In Temptation Island — the early-aughts series that was recently re-booted by the USA Network — troubled couples are flown to Hawaii, separated and surrounded by a group of hot singles cherry-picked to test their loyalty. The contestants know that their partner is in the same situation as they are, but they don’t know if they’re cheating or staying loyal — so the result is basically a prisoner’s dilemma-style ethics experiment on molly.
Why you should watch:Sexy Beasts was one of Netflix’s more disappointing reality shows, but it’s also one of the weirdest premises ever immortalized on TV. Single daters looking for love are put into professional-grade, full-body prosthetics that completely disguise their appearances and then sent on dates with each other (sometimes in places like a normal restaurant or bar, to humorous effect). If you’ve ever wanted to see an anthropomorphic dolphin make unbearably boring small talk with a six-foot-tall baboon, here’s your chance.
FBoy Island Where: Crave What: Series, 10 episodes, 41–57 mins. When: Now Genre: Reality
Why you should watch: Okay, strap in for this one. In what almost seems like a mockery of 21st century gender politics, HBO’s FBoy Island puts three eligible women on an island with 24 men, half of whom have categorized themselves as “f-boys” and half of whom self-ID as “nice guys.” The women don’t know who’s a self-described f-boy and who’s not (although, honestly, the “nice guys” might be even worse) and have to try and identify who’s who throughout the season while also looking for love.