Editor’s Note: Welcome to our new column, Reality AF. Every Monday, Terry Terrones will check in and talk about the state of reality TV, plus provide a Top 5 list of what’s coming up this week that you should not miss.
Let’s be honest, as long as it’s not our own, we all enjoy a little relationship drama. This is why reality dating shows are so popular. Whether you’re married, single, or something in between, these kinds of shows allow viewers to live vicariously through the people we see on TV. We can be armchair quarterbacks (“I’d never let someone treat me like that.”), know-it-alls (“I told you he was going to cheat on her!”), and Stans (“I’m so happy they worked things out, I was rooting for insert names here.”).
There’s just something exciting and slightly voyeuristic about witnessing a relationship develop. It’s also wildly entertaining to watch young, attractive people do and say stupid things. However, for every Love Is Blind, there are 10 Beauty and the Geeks. That’s a terrible ratio, which is why I was leery about Prime Video’s new Betty Who-hosted series, The One That Got Away. A relationship show about six singles given the chance to explore missed love connections? Pfft, no thanks. But then I ended up bingeing all 10 episodes of the first season and now I’m cyberstalking the cast to see if anyone is still together. Here are five reasons you should watch.
1. A unique premise
Almost every dating series focuses on couples who have never met before, but for people with a past, there’s an instant connection that allows the dating process to accelerate. That missed romance could be an old flame, a high school crush, or even a co-worker who previously kept quiet about their feelings. Because new dating prospects, called Arrivals, turnover quickly, there are frequent cast changes keeping things fresh.
2. Stress-inducing living arrangements
Singles live in their own private apartment, giving them privacy and the opportunity to have uninterrupted one-on-one time. It also isolates Singles from the Arrivals, who all live together and bond through their shared experience. While the Singles have final say in who stays and who goes, the Arrivals have power as a group and aren’t afraid to stand up to Singles who get big egos just because of their position.
3. A dorky and meme worthy gimmick
The Bachelor has roses, Love Is Blind has pods, and The One That Got Away has The Portal. This is what Arrivals walk through when they arrive and exit, though the term “portal” should be used loosely, as it’s more of a walkway next to a large fountain with a smoke machine and a laser light show that looks like something out of a 1980s White Snake video. It’s cheesy and fun and one of those dating show gimmicks that’s ripe for a Saturday Night Live parody. I wish I had one in my backyard.
A dating show is nothing without drama, and there is plenty in this series, most of it coming from the Singles. There’s Ashley (who could pass for Kaley Cuoco’s little sister), who gets in a heated argument with every Arrival because the guy she’s dating is consoling a stressed out female friend. Then there’s Allyssa (a diva who frequently threatens to quit if she doesn’t get her unrealistic Prince Charming), who tries to steal fellow Single Kasey’s man by inviting the guy to her cabin so they can have wine by candlelight. Scandalous! And that’s just the tip of the drama iceberg.
5. Anthony and Vince
Every reality series requires a villain, but it also needs a strong protagonist, and this series has two. Vince is a Single. The first generation Chinese-Taiwanese-American is a successful lawyer who gives off strong Captain America vibes. He’s a good dude for whom it is easy to cheer. Anthony is an Arrival. The 29-year-old came to see if he could work things out with Jeff, who he met as a kid in confirmation class. Anthony is what every reality show needs: a great narrator. The host may move the action along, but the narrator is the smart and eloquent participant who gives the audience the inside dirt in a fun and entertaining way, and that’s exactly what Anthony does.
All 10 episodes of the first season of The One That Got Away are now available for streaming on Prime Video.
5 Reality Shows to Watch This Week
1. 2022 Nathan’s Hot Dog-Eating Contest (ESPNews, July 4)
Why you should watch it: No, I have not lost my mind. I watch this every year because it is HI-LAR-I-OUS. To be sure, it’s an embarrassing satire on American gluttony, but watch it for nothing else than master of ceremonies George Shea’s stellar introductions. They’re perfection. “He was first seen standing at the edge of the shore between the ancient marks of the high and low tide, a place that is neither land nor sea,” Shea said about one contestant during the 2016 introductions. “But as the moonlight filtered through the darkness, it revealed a man who has been to the beyond and witnessed the secrets of life and death.” He speaks so eloquently about a hot dog-eating contestant! Genius.
2. America the Beautiful (Disney+, Season Premiere July 4)
Why you should watch it: From the producers of Planet Earth comes this six-episode docuseries narrated by Michael B. Jordan that takes viewers on a journey across North America. It’s the first series to utilize cinema-grade cameras on fighter jets. Cool! All episodes are available now.
3. Big Brother 24 (CBS, Season Premiere July 6)
Why you should watch it: To be honest, I never got into this series. I tried when it first started, but I just couldn’t get into it and never tried again. That said, I know it has a die-hard fan base, so I thought I’d remind you it’s returning. However, there is another CBS reality series premiering this week that I’m all in on…
4. The Challenge: USA (CBS, Series Premiere July 6)
Why you should watch it: Oh yeah! This is The Challenge but with former Challenge contestants mixed in with people from Survivor and The Amazing Race. My main man TJ Lavin is hosting. It’s everything I could ever ask for in a reality competition series and the frontrunner for what I’ll be writing about next week. You better believe I’m in!
5. Generation Gap (ABC, Series Premiere July 7)
Why you should watch it: Kelly Ripa hosts this new series in which teams of grandparents and grandkids answer questions about pop culture from each other’s generations. Sounds like a hoot (which would get a serious eyebrow raise from my kids).
Terry Terrones is a Television Critics Association and Critics Choice Association member, licensed drone pilot, and aspiring hand model.
When he’s not applying for Survivor, you can find him hiking in the mountains of Colorado. You can follow him on Twitter @terryterrones.
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