Recently, Netflix’s Love Is Blind reminded us of something that we always knew, deep down: we unashamedly love reality dating shows. The Netflix original drew in a broader audience than most shows of its kind by introducing an unexpected twist: Couples would go on literal blind dates, in which they could hear—but not see—one another. They had a small window of time to get engaged, and were only allowed to see one another if they popped the question.
On April 17, Netflix will see if they can catch lightning in a bottle for a second time with Too Hot to Handle, a reality dating show that puts a bunch of serial daters in a house together. Here’s the catch (that even the contestants didn't know about until they got there): There’s no kissing, sex, or self-gratification allowed, and if contestants are caught doing any of these things, they will be “fined.” I.e., the potential prize money will start to decrease.
While we’re absolutely going to watch Too Hot to Handle—and we love a good twist—we don’t need much of an excuse to get invested in a great reality dating show. All we’re asking for is lots of drama, plenty of premature promises, and maybe even a couple or two who we think might really make it. With that in mind, we’ve listed all the reality dating shows that go beyond a guilty pleasure.
The Bachelor (and the Bachelorette)
The classic reality dating show, The Bachelor sees one attractive, successful man (or woman, in the case of The Bachelorette) simultaneously dating a couple dozen people. The dating pool gets narrowed at each week’s “Rose Ceremony,” with the goal of a proposal in the season finale.
There’s something endlessly watchable about this reality dating show. As of posting, it’s reached 24 seasons and has multiple spin-offs. And though it’s not the most dramatic show on this list, that might work in its favor—The Bachelor is tame enough to make for great water cooler gossip.
Originally a British show, this brash reality series has spun off versions in Australia, Sweden, Germany and the U.S.—and we couldn’t be more grateful. The show features multiple attractive people in swimsuits, gratuitous close-ups, and endless drama. All of the contestants live in one villa together, and they must act fast to “couple up” with someone, or they risk going home at the next selection.
To add to the excitement, new people are regularly added to the villa. As the end of the show nears, the public votes on their favorite couple, with the winners receiving a large cash sum. If it sounds like an excuse to go on TV and become a social media influencer...well, that’s pretty much exactly what it is. But we love watching it anyway.
90 Day Fiancé
This show is a bit different from the other reality dating shows on this list. Part documentary, part reality show, each episode follows multiple couples who are applying for U.S. marriage visas. Once approved, the couple must be married within 90 days, or the non-U.S. partner must return to their home country.
Though the time limit for the marriage visa is intended to let couples make arrangements for their ceremony, many of the couples on the show who haven’t previously met in person use the time to decide whether or not they truly want to get married. And while some of the couples have been in long-distance relationships for a while, some remind us of —and that is where the real drama begins.
If your relationship is on the rocks, you probably don’t want to go somewhere called Temptation Island. And yet, each season of this show sees multiple couples doing exactly that—the couples split up and live in separate houses, each filled with attractive, single members of the opposite sex. The idea is for the couples to decide whether they would fit better with someone else.
The controversial show didn’t always deliver strong ratings in the later seasons. But if you enjoy seeing people doing questionable things in the name of finding love, then you’ll probably want to binge-watch a season or two.
Are You the One?
An MTV classic, this reality dating show is also a puzzle. All the contestants are living together in the same house, and each must find their predetermined “match,” as determined by an algorithm. The couples can test their compatibility by entering the “truth booth.” If all the couples are properly matched by the end of the show, the entire group splits a cash prize of $1 million.
While this sounds like it should be relatively easy to figure out, the show’s contestants often let their feelings get in the way of logic. That’s what makes it so much fun to watch! We also have to applaud AYOT? for being the first reality dating show to exclusively have LGBT and sexually fluid contestants, in its 8th season.
Featured image from The Bachelor, via ABC