When contestant Wee Wee (yes) tells a date she met maybe a few hours before that she is thinking about marriage and children down the road, it feels as though the show’s trying to ape the most inane aspects of “The Bachelor”; if the contestants were wearing clothes, it’d be an extremely bad copy of the old MTV after-school shows, like “Next” or “Date My Mom,” that tried to cannibalize that ABC dating show’s success.
This may be the greatest achievement, such as it is, of “Dating Naked” — being so deeply boring that it makes nudity seem normal, not shameful.
By contrast, TLC’s “Buying Naked,” which focuses on naturists looking for homes that meet their specifications — that is, looking for real estate while naked — makes being nude seem like the weirdest thing in the world.
Though nudity on this show (like “Dating Naked”) is blurred, shots are also often set up to jokily conceal genitals in the way that Wilson’s face was hidden by fences and furniture on “Home Improvement.” On “Dating Naked,” the contestants only have other naked people to talk to; on “Buying Naked,” the nude folks are put into conversation with a clothed real estate agent who becomes an avatar for the clothed audience.
At this point, reality-show producers have pretty much tried every trick in the book.
Dating, real estate, cooking competitions, backwoods survival — after a certain point, there’s nothing new under the sun.
New Jersey, as a setting, is home to shows as thematically varied as “The Real Housewives of New Jersey,” “Cake Boss,” “Jersey Couture” and any number of “Jersey Shore” spinoffs (most recently TV Guide’s “The Sorrentinos”); other regions-as-genres have included Atlanta and, for a strange stretch of time, Dallas.
The concept of a competition that tests an obscure or unusual skill has been stretched to its limit with shows from “Skin Wars” (about body-painting) to “Jim Henson’s Creature Shop Challenge.” And the dating, real estate and survival genres have all lately tried to achieve addition by subtraction — by forcing cast members to take off their clothes. But the nudity is dispensed with so quickly that one begins to forget why this is a show at all.
VH1’s “Dating Naked,” which began last night, paradoxically gains little from its conceit — that contestants must choose one of three suitors while they’re all in the altogether. Mention is made, early on, to everyone’s vague discomfort with the situation (no one knows where to look!
), but the show takes weirdly little advantage of the fact that it could potentially strip away the rhetoric and pretension around dating shows.