14 Former Dating Shows That Would Never Be Made Today

Production shouldn’t be allowed to lie to contestants this much…

From classics like The Bachelor to stranger-than-fiction concepts like Netflix’s Sexy Beastsdating shows offer some of the most binge-worthy drama reality TV has to offer.

However, even some of the most outlandish dating shows we have today are tame in comparison to the ones that were inexplicably allowed to air on TV in days gone by.

Here are 14 former dating shows that would never fly today:


In 2014s I Wanna Marry “Harry, 12 American women competed for the affections of a British man they thought was Prince Harry — but their bachelor was really just a lookalike named Matthew Hicks.

Fox/FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Hicks arrived at the estate in a helicopter, and he was attended by security and a fake butler (who was really an actor) at all times.

Production even staged “locals” to interrupt the women and “Harry” on their dates to asks for pictures, and one contestant found a photoshopped image of him and the real Prince William.

Kimberly Birch, who won the show, said that she realized it was all a hoax when production told her to keep looking straight ahead while out walking in London. When she glanced to the side, she saw a souvenir shop selling masks of the real Prince Harry.

Fox/FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

She told Splinter News, “I saw that picture and realized — I’m not nuts. Everybody here, on this set, on this production team, is crazy. I’m not. The whole time, you’re confronting them, saying , ‘This is all set up,’ and they’re like, ‘Okay, yeah, you’re going crazy.’ You’re so brainwashed into it that you go with everything in order to keep yourself feeling sane.”

She also said that a member of the production team posed as a therapist to talk to a few of the contestants who didn’t believe Hicks was actually Prince Harry.

Fox/FOX Image Collection via Getty Images

Only four episodes aired before the show was pulled due to low ratings, but the rest of the season was made available to stream online.

A year later, Birch said that she and Hicks remained friends, but they never pursued a romantic relationship outside of the show.


In 2003, Bravo released Boy Meets Boywhich was supposed to be about a gay man finding his perfect match among 15 other gay men — but he wasn’t told that some of the contestants were actually straight men pretending they were gay.

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Douglas Ross, the executive producer, told Advocate, “We felt by putting [the twist] in, we would get a much broader audience and have a chance to explore the sociological issues which are really important to us as gay producers.”

James Getzlaf, the show’s bachelor, wasn’t told that some of his potential matches were straight until the second-to-last episode.

Bravo / Courtesy: Everett Collection

He told the Advocate, “I had no idea — they brought someone back from my past, one of the final three guys quit because he just hated my guts, I just did not know. And I thought, Do not give them the satisfaction of a reaction. That’s what my main goal was at that moment. They’re obviously going to tell me something that’s going to get a reaction, either good or bad, and I just figured it wasn’t gonna be good.”

However, the gay contestants didn’t learn the truth until after the eight days of filming had wrapped.

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To make matters worse, on top of spending the finale trying to figure out which contests were actually there for the right reasons, Getzlaf was pulled over by the police during his finale date with Wes Culwell, who ultimately won.

Culwell told Advocate, “We almost got arrested in Palm Springs during the carriage ride because they have an open container law, you can’t drink on the street. That was something the producers didn’t do much research into, so we were getting pulled over by the police and getting tickets written.”


In 2004, Fox’s playing it straight tasked a woman with finding a love match from a group of 14 men — but the “twist” was that some of the men were secretly gay.

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If she chose a straight man in the end, she’d split the $1 million prize with him, but if she chose a gay man in the end, then he’d get the money all to himself.

The show faced criticism for forcing the gay men to perform straightness and reinforcing negative stereotypes.

The US version of the show was pulled after only three episodes, but the UK version ran on Channel 4 in 2005 then again in 2012.

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The UK version was branded as “the reality game show that throws down the ultimate gaydar gauntlet.”


On UPN’s 2001 show, Chains of Lovea person was physically chained to four contestants of the opposite sex.

UPN courtesy Everett Collection

They were recorded the entire time — Big Brother-style—and all slept in the same bed.

They were only given breaks to use the bathroom in private.

Through elimination, the contestants were unchained and sent home until only one remained—and the lead got to decide how much consolation money the rejects took with them.

UPN courtesy Everett Collection

The lead had a box containing $10,000. After each elimination, a “locksmith” appeared and wasted out however much money the lead said.


We The 5th Wheelwhich ran in syndication from 2001–2004, four single people went on a group date, only for a fifth person — who could be anyone, including a celebrity or an ex — to crash it.

The truly terrible aspect of this show was its tagline: “Where strangers become friends, friends become lovers, and lovers become bitter, suicidal exes all on the same show.”


In the 2008 NBC show, Momma’s Boys32 women lived in a house with a trio of “possessive yet loving mothers who must help their complacent sons choose the perfect woman.”

Nbc/NBCUniversal via Getty Images

One of the mothers made racist, anti-semitic, and fatphobic comments about the contestants on camera and told a producer that “it has to be a white girl.”

Nbc/NBCUniversal via Getty Images


From 2010–2012, Jerry Springer hosted GSN’s Baggagein which three contestants presented the person looking for love with three Deal or No Deal-style suitcases containing their emotional baggage.

Then, the lead eliminated their potential matches based on the secrets they revealed, which ranged from “I use baby wipes instead of bathing” to “I am a cult leader.”

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Other real confessions from the show included “I have a webcam in my bathroom,” “I stole $10,000 from an ex,” “I’ve been arrested 22 times,” and “I used to be a pimp.”

Reality stars including Flavor of Love‘s Tiffany Pollard and Vanderpump Rules‘Jax Taylor appeared on the show.


From 2006–2010, MTV’s Parental Control gave “disapproving parents the power to pick candidates to date their son or daughter and replace their current unsuitable love interest.”

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The parents would interview potential love matches for their child, and each parent would choose one person to send on a date with their kid.

In the end, the kid would choose if they wanted to stay with their current partner or date one of their parents’ picks instead.

To make matters worse, the kid’s current partner had to watch the dates with the parents who hated them.

According to Chase Thomas, who appeared as Klarissa’s father’s pick on an early episode, “the entire thing was pre-planned by the producers.”

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On Medium, he wrote, “It was filmed out of sequence over three days. There was no script, but we were often told what to say. Klarissa’s parents weren’t together anymore and her so-called boyfriend Jensen was just her friend. ..She told me that whomever she chose at the end would get a bonus payment.”


From 2005–2008, the CW’s Beauty and the Geek coupled up men who were defined by their intellects and women who were defined by their physical appearances to compete for a $250,000 grand prize.

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It was advertised as a “social experiment.”

The fourth season added a woman named Nicole Morgan to the “geek” side and a man named Sam Horrigan to the “beauty” side.

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Morgan told Reality TV World, “I don’t think that I realized how many people were kind of against the concept for a while… From the editing — without being specific — I feel like it was more about how we affected everyone else instead of how we were changing ourselves.”


We Nextwhich ran on MTV from 2005–2008, five “daters” waited in an RV — the Next Bus — for their turn on a blind date with the lead.

The lead could either choose to start the date or reject them to their faces by yelling, “Next!”, and the next contestant in line would step up as a replacement — sort of like a dating app in real life.

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After a successful date ended, they had to make a choice — either they could go on a second date, or they could get a cash prize equal to the amount of time they’d spent on their date.


On VH1’s The Pickup Artistwhich ran from 2007–2008, a “pickup artist” named Mystery taught a “boot camp” for men who had trouble with dating.

After the eight contestants arrived at the mansion in a mini-bus labeled “Destination: Manhood,” Mystery taught them his techniques for interacting with women.

One of the “skills” he taught them was negging — insulting women to undermine their self-confidence and make them more vulnerable.

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Their lessons also included makeovers and kissing practice with Mystery’s “wingwoman” Tara.


For Love or Moneywhich aired on NBC from 2003–2004, worked similarly to The Bachelor, but the winner could choose either a relationship or a cash prize.

The lead didn’t know about the money, and the contestants weren’t allowed to tell them.

If the winner chose money, then they were banned from ever contacting the lead again.

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Additionally, eliminated contestants had to rip up checks, which represented the cash they lost out on.


From 2003–2005, NBC aired Average Joeat Bachelorette-style show where the “twist” was that all of the woman’s potential suitors were deemed to be “average.”

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The woman was falsely led to believe that all of the contestants would be conventionally attractive — and another twist came halfway through the season when a group of “handsome” men were added to the pool.

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The men remained divided between “Joes” and “hunks.”

On the Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back season, Anna Chudoba became the first woman to choose a “Joe” as her winner.

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However, distance and contracts prevented her and Nathan Griffen from seeing each other afterwards.

Though they remained friends, Griffen began dating an old friend, and Chudoba remained single.


And finally, on the 2006 MTV show My Ownthe central seeker of love was a superfan of a famous musician who was looking for a partner who reminded them of their celebrity crush.

They auditioned six contestants to determine which one was the most similar to the celeb they dreamed of dating.

After a series of challenges, the remaining three had to perform one of the pop star’s songs for the superfan.

Finally, the superfan eliminated two contestants and declared the winner to be, for example, “my own Beyoncé.”

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