The following contains spoilers for episodes 1-4 of Perfect Match
In the field of reality television, Netflix has always seemed to have a leg up. From Love is Blind to The Circle, the streaming giant is constantly innovating new formats that draw in viewers and contestants alike. With so many different shows under their belt, it was even possible for them to bring back repeat guests, such as Chloe Veitch, who first appeared on Too Hot to Handle and later competed in The Circle.
These shows have undoubtedly become more talked about than the tried and true network classics—The Bachelor, Are You the One, and Married at First Sight, to name a few—especially among younger generations. In fact, it would seem that the only thing Netflix was missing was an opportunity for all of our fan favorites to come back and hang out together at a beachside villa, a subgame Bachelor in Paradise has long-since perfected. All of that has changed with Perfect Match!
In this show, contestants from all of Netflix’s previous reality TV shows (regardless of whether or not it was a dating show) have the opportunity to enter a house filled with other hot, reality TV famous individuals to find the love of their life. Each episode, they compete in “compatibility challenges” where the winning couple gets to control the boardroom, determining which new people to bring in and which existing people they should send on dates. Come the night portion, they must decide who to pair up with, and unmatched singles head home. According to host Nick Lachey, the final couple left standing will be deemed the “perfect match”, although it remains to be seen how that will truly be determined.
What makes this show truly great is that it doesn’t bother with any allusion of actual true love. It knows gathering a bunch of hot B-list celebrities in one place will make great reality TV, and it does. The fact that they’re hooking up and catching feelings is a bonus, not the point. Where The Bachelor franchise instantly villainizes anyone who talks of fame, these hotties discuss it openly. In Chase DeMoor’s date with fellow Too Hot to Handle star Georgia Hassarati, he suggests that the reason he came on the show was to see what it would be like to date when “clout” is taken out of the equation. During a wildly confrontational interaction between Francesca Farago and Savannah Palacio, Savannah references Francesca’s much higher level of fame during all of her one-on-one interviews*. There is no presuming the audience’s naivety about the fame these people get from being on reality TV— it’s a baked in component of the game.
*While I could not find a way to fit this into the flow of the article itself, I wanted to point out the fact that Savannah was proved 100% correct in her assessment that Francesca was threatened. Why? The VERY NEXT DAY Francesca shows up to the competition wearing her own spin on the same outfit Savannah had worn the day before. Photo evidence provided below. Obsessed.
These people also all know each other! Even casual followers of Netflix’s reality TV series will see that Francesca met half of the Love is Blind contestants during the show, and that The Circle “fam” hosts frequent get togethers with cast members from all seasons. None of these people are hiding their pre-existing relationships, and that makes it even better. Take Joey Sasso and Kariselle Snow for example. The two have admitted to dating on-and-off for up to three years. Kariselle makes no secret of the fact that Joey has treated her like shit. And yet they’re still pairing up and trying to make it work! I’m rooting for these crazy kids even as it’s abundantly clear that Kariselle is catching feelings Joey will never reciprocate! And regardless, it’s beautiful, because I know post-filming the entertainment will continue on their social media pages.
The format for Perfect Match is a pretty clear combination of Bachelor in Paradise (previous contestants) and Are You the One (the gamification aspect), and yet the combination elevates it to a whole new level. Francesca makes no secret about the fact that she’s queer this time around; it would be nearly impossible for her to, given that she’s been in public relationships with women since her time on Too Hot. While Kariselle doesn’t talk about her bisexuality, hard-core reality TV viewers will know that she was actually on AYTO’s sexually fluid season. Watching these two queer women support each other and give advice on relationships— especially considering they both hooked up with Joey in the past— is beautiful, and I can’t help but root for them to end up together.
There’s something so rich and exciting about this show that hasn’t been captured in any other, and I think that’s because viewers aren’t forced to do mental gymnastics regarding the true intentions of the cast. Everyone is open about the fact that they’re on the show for fame, and if love comes out of it that’s great too. I can cheer for Francesca and Dom Gabriel to hook up, or Ines Tazi to end up with Shayne Jansen, regardless of none of these being clear long-term matches, because I’m pretty sure they all know long-term isn’t what they’re in it for.
It’s fun! It’s exciting! I can’t wait for more episodes to drop next week.