So, a wolf and an owl walk into a bar. That’s not actually a joke setup — it’s a real thing that happens on Netflix’s new dating reality show, out July 21. In case meeting strangers in a public place to determine whether you could commit to each other for life doesn’t have enough intrinsic chaos to it, Netflix is adding to the mix by putting singles from the US and UK in elaborate prosthetic makeup. After who knows how many hours in the makeup chair, the contestants are converted into animals and mythical creatures like reindeer, roosters, trolls and pixies and deposited in a London bar. The thinking? They’ll be able to forge deeper connections with each other if they’re not hung up on each other’s looks.
Just think, the only thing standing between you and true love could be feathers.
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Believe it or not, Sexy Beasts wasn’t just born into the world as the cursed child of Fox’sand . An earlier version of the show actually aired in 2014 on BBC Three. This new iteration features voice-over narration from comedian Rob Delaney. And now, following on the heels of other can’t-look-away reality shows like Too Hot to Handle, The Circle and the aforementioned Love Is Blind, Sexy Beasts is here in six 20-minute episodes to make you wonder when on the timeline of Rome burning this show would’ve aired.
And lo: I’ve watched and recapped all of them in order to reassure you that what you’re seeing on screen is actually happening.
You can find the rest of our recaps below:
Let’s get started.
You’ll have a devil of a time dating Emma.
For the inaugural episode of Sexy Beasts, we meet Emma, a model from New York City, whose face has been molded into a demon, complete with horns, a Green Goblin-esque grin, and skin as red as that one time I had to cheerlead two football games in a row without sunscreen.
Emma is super tired of being judged by her looks, so now her face will live in our nightmares into perpetuity. She’s looking for a bad boy who’s got a hard shell with a soft interior, which doesn’t sound like the makings of a problem at all.
Emma’s first suitor is Bennett, a former pro volleyball player from San Diego who’s been made up to look like a mandrill. If your brain doesn’t immediately pull up an image of what a mandrill is, think of Rafiki from The Lion King. Now imagine Rafiki from The Lion King discussing his love of boobs.
Second is Archie, a student from Gloucestershire, England, in the role of Stone Man. Archie has recently realized that he’s not, in fact, a player. He’s into brains. Still, he also wants “a big ol’ butt.”
Third comes Adam, from Birmingham, England, who doesn’t have a job, maybe? My friend, if you’ve ever wondered what a mouse would look like with a sleazy half man-bun (mouse-bun?), your day has arrived. Adam’s a thinker, though — he says his secret weapon is wearing ladies’ perfume. He might as well wear a smell they already like, because that’s how attraction works. I imagine the internal monologue of a girl hugging him for the first time and being overwhelmed by memories of her late grandmother, who was also a big Burberry fan.
The four kick off their round of speed dates at a bar where the other patrons have clearly been instructed to gawk periodically at the mess of latex and fur trying to sip drinks in spite of snouts and other facial protrusions.
Adam asks Emma the question we’re all wondering: “So why are you single? Why are you in a bar talking to a mouse right now?”
Very quickly something dawns on me. Sometimes not even outlandish facial prosthetics can make a first date interesting. The usual line of questioning ensues: “Where are you from?” “What do you do?”
When Emma asks Bennet if he’s loyal, he responds, “I think I can be,” and “there’s a lot of temptation out there,” which she registers as a red flag, but somehow not a deal breaker.
Adam, meanwhile, tries to explain banter to Emma, which is British slang for teasing, flirty back-and-forth. (Did I fact check with multiple colleagues in the UK? YES.)
Emma tells the camera she’s very confused. She didn’t much feel it with any of them. Now comes a part I find wildly awkward. Back at the so-called Sexy Beast Manor, Emma has to essentially deliver critiques of each of her dates — something she liked and something she didn’t — before dismissing one.
Ultimately, Adam gets the boot, but not before he gets to reveal his face, ostensibly sending her into a spiral of regret and despair. Meh.
Next comes another round of dates. Emma and Archie pursue a tandem foot massage, where he makes a bland assertion, “I love culture.” And as she attempts to wade into deeper lifestyle-oriented conversation, he tells her he has good intuition because he correctly guessed someone’s age recently.
Meanwhile, Emma and Bennett go to an amusement park to ride roller coasters. They end up kissing and Bennett tells the camera, “It’s so crazy. I’ve kissed this girl and I don’t know what she looks like,” as if the premise of the entire series has just walked out of the mist and pantsed him.
Back at the manor, Emma delivers another round of critiques and picks Bennett. Is Archie tearing up? Is it a reaction to the eye makeup? We may never know. Before meeting Bennett, she meets Archie, who she deems to be cute and then finally meets Bennett, who while kissing her, bites her lip like a piece of fruit leather.
Ah yes, romance.
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