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.
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.
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.
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.
James Getzlaf, the show’s bachelor, wasn’t told that some of his potential matches were straight until the second-to-last episode.
However, the gay contestants didn’t learn the truth until after the eight days of filming had wrapped.
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.
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.
On UPN’s 2001 show, Chains of Lovea person was physically chained to four contestants of the opposite sex.
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.
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.”
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.
The fourth season added a woman named Nicole Morgan to the “geek” side and a man named Sam Horrigan to the “beauty” side.
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.
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.
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.
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.”
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.
On the Average Joe: The Joes Strike Back season, Anna Chudoba became the first woman to choose a “Joe” as her winner.
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.”