More to Love, Dating in the Dark are more bland, less sensational than their titles

The Bachelorette may have ended last night, but the broadcast networks are offering two new dating shows this summer. Neither show, however, quite lives up to its attention-seeking concepts and titles.

Fox’s offering, More to Love, debuts tonight at 9 p.m. ET, and executive producer Mike Fleiss pretty much rips off his own show, The Bachelor (although the old-school version, before people started violating its rules and doing things like rejecting all of their suitors). Besides exchanging roses for diamond promise rings, the only difference between the two series is that the bachelor and the women are overweight.

The 20 women range in weight from 180 to 279, and their weight appears on screen every time their name does. Every reality show about overweight people focuses on helping them lose weight, but this series embraces and celebrates its stars’ weight and behavior, like the way bachelor Luke talks about eating a lot because he likes food. One woman says, amusingly, “Who wants to look at a stick?” Decide for yourself whether that it’s great it’s not judging people based upon external characteristics or horrifying that it might be excusing unhealthy behavior.

The bachelor weighs 330 pounds, and his weight shows up on-screen, too. But besides his weight, there’s not much notable about him. “I’m just an average guy,” Luke, who’s 26, says. That’s kind of the problem: He’s nice but boring, and about the craziest woman in the first episode is one who jumps in the pool–with her clothes on!

So without cast drama and without anything new to offer–It’s such a blatant and lazy copycat that during the rose/ring ceremony, I was wondering if the host, plus-sized model Emme, would come out to announce that one ring remained. She did.–it’s pretty dull, or at least the first episode will. Maybe it’ll get more interesting or more offensive as the season progresses, but it doesn’t seem likely.

There’s a bit more excitement on the other series, Dating in the Dark, which ABC debuted last week, and which airs Mondays at 10. Each one-off episode puts three men and three women in a house together, and they date in a pitch-black room. We watch via surprisingly good night-vision cameras, and that’s occasionally funny, whether the daters are tripping or feeling each other’s faces.

In between dates, which they choose with each other after one big group date, there are various things to pass the time, like when they get to examine and smell each other’s clothes or suitcases, and talk to a sketch artist to see if their perception matches the reality. They also find out which potential love interest is most closely aligned to them according to personality tests.

All of this culminates in the daters actually getting to see each other in the light, but only for a moment. After that, they have to decide if the connection they had can overcome that person’s surprising physical appearance. If they want to date more, they go to a balcony, on which they’ll either greet the person or watch them run away in horror.

At least, that’s the way it plays out in the most extreme cases. When the couples decide to stick together, it’s not that shocking, and since we have only watched them for 40 minutes, it’s hard to be invested in their potential relationship.

Ultimately, it’s kind of an interesting experiment, and does a pretty good job of answering whether or not physical appearance is important in a relationship. But like More to Love, Dating in the Dark‘s title is more sensational than its content, and it’s not must-watch TV as a result.

More to Love: C
Dating in the Dark: B-

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about the writer

Andy Dehnart is a journalist who has covered reality television for more than 15 years and created reality blurred in 2000. A member of the Television Critics Association, his writing and criticism about television, culture, and media has appeared on NPR and in Playboy, Buzzfeed, and many other publications. Andy, 36, also directs the journalism program at Stetson University in Florida, where he teaches creative nonfiction and journalism. He has an M.F.A. in nonfiction writing and literature from Bennington College. More about reality blurred and Andy.