Reality AF: Jerry O’Connell on The Real Love Boat, His Challenge to Nick & Vanessa Lachey, and a Sliders Reboot

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Reality AF: Jerry O’Connell on The Real Love Boat, His Challenge to Nick & Vanessa Lachey, and a Sliders Reboot

Editor’s Note: Welcome to Reality AF, where each week Terry Terrones checks in on the state of reality TV, or, in this case, catches up with one of the biggest names in the game.


Is love still exciting and new? Viewers of The Real Love Boat are about to find out when the show fills out CBS’s Wednesday reality lineup starting tonight. Sandwiched between Survivor and The Amazing Race, the new show isn’t a live action reboot but a dating adventure series with a Love Boat theme.

The new program comes complete with a real life captain, a finger flexing bartender, and a cruise director. It’s hosted by husband/wife duo Rebecca Romijn and Jerry O’Connell. To set a course for adventure, I chatted with O’Connell and discussed his serious badminton game, his autotuned voice, and why he’s a reality TV viewer first and host second. Here’s a transcript of our exchange.

Paste: So Break down the format of this new series for me.

Jerry O’Connell: Ten singles come on to the Regal Princess. Each of them have been recently wronged in relationships or had a bad experience with love, and like “The Love Boat,” are looking to find love and find a spark to reignite them. They couple up, and in each episode they go through a competition a la The Amazing Race where the winner gets first choice at who they want to partner up with, keys to the Love Boat Suite where things can be exciting and new, or dinner at the captain’s table. And each episode there is an odd number of men or women, and some are left at sea or we leave them at the dock at the end of the episode, and wave goodbye as the ship pulls out.

Paste: You have a lot of hosting experience, but a dating show is new territory. What made you want to be a part of this series?

O’Connell: I don’t have that much hosting experience. I host a show The Talk, but I have only been there a year. The only thing that has made me somewhat qualified to host The Real Love Boat is that I have watched pretty much every reality competition series on television, from Survivor to The Amazing Race to Love is Blind to the fact that my brother was The Bachelor to every Housewives franchise and every Below Deck franchise. I also watch Vanderpump Rules, Married at First Sight, and 90 Day Fiance. My wife and I took all that knowledge and we hosted an unscripted show. We are viewers first and hosts second.

Paste: You and Rebecca sing the theme song. Was this the first time singing on camera for you both, and what is your go to karaoke song?

O’Connell: My go-to karaoke song is Frankie Valley’s “Can’t Take My Eyes Off Of You.” My wife and I do love karaoke. We love private karaoke. We just sing to each other. My wife has a beautiful voice, but if you listen closely I am heavily autotuned. We thought it would be really fun to do an album of all classic TV themes songs.

Paste: I noticed Ted Lange, aka bartender Isaac Washington, in a preview. Any chances of other surprising connections to the original series?

O’Connell: We have Jill Whelan coming on who played Vicki. We have Isaac the Bartender (Ted Lange). We really wanted to honor the original series, and we wanted to protect the fond memories that everyone has for the original. I hope we were able to do that.

Paste: Time to play matchmaker. Which of the memorable characters you’ve played would be a great match for one of the memorable characters Rebecca has played?

O’Connell: I guess we are both in Star Trek right? Rebecca plays Una Chin-Riley, first commander on the Enterprise, and I play commander Jack Ransom on Lower Decks. Both are part of Starfleet, at different times obviously. That is the crossover I want to see.

Paste: If you and Rebecca had to go head to head in any kind of competition with Love is Blind hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey, who would come out on top?

O’Connell: They are a beautiful couple and a beautiful family. I don’t want any beef, but I do want to challenge them to a game of badminton. My wife and I love to play badminton. I can say with absolute certainty we would beat them. I challenge them.

Paste: And finally, because I have to ask this every time I get a chance to interact with you, when are we going to see a Sliders reboot?

O’Connell: I called up the people who have the show, NBC Universal. They have not called me back. I called them during the pandemic. It has been over two years now, and I am still waiting for a call back.

Terry Terrones is a Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association member, licensed drone pilot, and aspiring hand model. When he’s not binging episodes Sliders you can find him hiking in the mountains of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @terryterrones.

For all the latest TV news, reviews, lists and features, follow @Paste_TV.

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