Are You Watching MTV’s Sexually Fluid Season Of ‘Are You The One’?
Come one come all…
If reality dating shows are your thing (just admit it), MTV’s Are You the One? is the guiltiest of guilty pleasures. Now in its eighth season, the reality show puts 20 young people in a house and gives them the task of finding their “perfect match”. If they manage to figure out all ten matches, they’ll win $1 million to share. Perfect matches are determined by a team of match makers (or producers, who really knows) beforehand and are based on personality tests and dating history.
The current season, which is airing right now on Monday nights on MTV is the first season with people who all identify as bisexual or sexually fluid. That means anyone could be anyone’s perfect match and there’s no way of knowing whether you’ll be paired up with a he/him, she/her or they/them. Since it’s a little more difficult than previous season, there are only eight matches instead of ten.
The season has been making headlines for its diverse cast and attempt at portraying queer relationships honestly. Of course, throwing a bunch of 20-something singles in a house with unlimited booze and all the opportunity in the world to sleep with… well, everyone, is going to get messy.
The show encourages the cast to “follow their heart”and “make connections” but that’s exactly what leads them down the wrong path a lot of the time. Previous seasons have always had a couple or two that just cannot let go of each other no matter how toxic their relationship becomes and that’s a dynamic that’s still very much present this season. Add the fact that a lot of the cast members don’t have much experience pursuing queer relationships—and have often tried to suppress those desires in the past—and this season is significantly more compelling previous seasons.
This season’s cast comes from a range of different backgrounds. Some have grown up knowing and accepting who they are while others are still figuring that out. It’s clear some of them have never been around others who understand them and being on the show is giving them the opportunity to explore.
Kai, a transgender man, just recently started taking testosterone and one scene shows him explaining the process to a woman he’s interested in. Not something you see often on reality TV, let alone a show about dating. He is still figuring out who he is as a man and being on testosterone has thrown him into a second puberty of sorts—something anyone transitioning will be able to relate to. He’s also one of the flirtiest cast members and someone many of the others are interested which is something he says he’s never experienced before.
Every episode also includes a visit from a relationship therapist who helps them work through their emotions and avoid getting stuck in toxic relationship patterns. The previous seven seasons (all with heterosexual-only casts) didn’t have a therapist—but they really could have used one. In a lot of ways, previous seasons casts were even more clueless about how to connect with someone else in a healthy way than the sexually-fluid cast members this season.
Ultimately, relationships are about being able to open up and be vulnerable. Trust is hard for all of us, but even more so for people who identify as LGBTQ+. Are You the One? may still be about 20-somethings making every mistakes possible when it comes to finding love, but this season is worth watching for a look at what it’s like for queer people to navigate relationships and dating.
As Remy, one of the participants, notes, “Some of us are not what you would want to maybe represent you, and that’s fine, but we’re real people, and we exist and deserve to be seen, and we deserve to express how we feel.”