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Reality TV Dating Shows & Valentine's Day Streaming
Whether you’ve found that special someone or not, reality TV dating shows have something for everyone this Valentine’s Day.
Want to cuddle up cozy and watch other adorable couples fall in love? You’ll find some of that on streaming service of your choice. In more of a “love stinks” mindset? Pick up the popcorn and binge your way through somebody else’s drama - you’ll find plenty of that too.
Whether getting married to someone they just met or yelling their way through “the most dramatic season yet,” watching reality show couples is always an adventure.
Optimum has you covered with the juiciest, most chaotic, and most charming shows available on your favorite streaming services.
Love show showdowns
One prominent type of reality dating show involves one person choosing between dozens of people for their ideal match. The competing contestants vie for the chooser’s attention, compete in wild challenges, and also share a living space - so there’s plenty of room for melodrama. For those more interested in the frog-kissing journey than the “happily ever after” portion of televised dating, these might be the perfect binge.
The Bachelor (Trailer, Available on ABC)
Where phrases such as “Will you accept this rose?” and “They’re not here for the right reasons” became infamous. Over a nearly 20 year history, The Bachelor franchise brought these and so many other common catchphrases and shareable reaction gifs to the forefront of everyday life. The show’s unmatched popularity warranted four spin-off franchises to keep the “Bachelor Nation” audience coming back year-round, including The Bachelorette.
With its helicopter ride dates to remote islands, rooftop fireworks, and celebrity guest appearances - The Bachelor packs enough high-production splendor to make the average Tinder date feel exactly as underwhelming as it usually is. As a counter-balance to grand romance, the franchise also brings enough ridiculous melodrama to make almost any real-life romantic situation feel pleasantly calm by comparison. Watch, binge, and - most importantly - Google whether or not the “winning” couple is actually still together.
Labor of Love (Trailer, Available on Hulu)
How can you tell if your romantic partner is serious about starting a family? Why not test their fertility on your first date? That’s what Kristy Katzmann did as she looks for love AND a family on Fox’s Labor of Love.
After a short but incendiary stint on the 11th season of The Bachelor, Katzmann earned a lead role on her own show in 2020. Labor of Love follows her attempt to find a husband and father of her future child (all in one go - no pressure, fellas) by challenging a group of aspiring fathers-to-be with parenting and partnership tests. Kristy must sort through these options to find her forever family man. Hey, it’s an approach.
12 Dates of Christmas (Trailer, Available on HBO Max)
Valentine’s Day isn’t the only holiday that puts undue pressure on people to find a date, as 12 Dates of Christmas makes clear. Leads Faith, Garrett, and Chad choose from among a revolving door of potential partners to take home for Christmas. There are (you guessed it!) 12 dates and each lead decides which one of their romantic hopefuls to introduce to the ‘rents.
If that sounds a little too wholesome for your taste in reality dating TV, there’s a catch: you may be on a date with one suitor and another could show up at any time. The leads must juggle different relationships in a secluded winter wonderland and determine which connections are strongest.
Dating shows for couples’ chaos
While it’s fun watching one person struggle to manage multiple potential relationships, it’s equally encouraging to see if everyone can find love. In more recent reality dating show history, the drama increases with more coupling combinations. Here are a few “non-lead” reality dating shows for you to binge this Valentine’s.
Love Island (Trailer, Available on Hulu and CBS All-Access)
12 singles walk into a villa. This isn’t the beginning of a joke, it’s the premise of Love Island. Based in the United Kingdom, Love Island brings 12 hopeless romantics to a gorgeous estate on the coast of a tropical island to find their true love and compete for the $100,000 cash prize.
The catch? Not only are contestants trying to gain the romantic interest of another participant, they also need to win over the viewers at home. Home viewers vote through the Love Island app to keep their favorite couples around or send their favorite combinations on dates with each other. And to really shake things up, new singles come into the house every episode, so the person you start the journey with may not be the one you end it with.
Are You the One? (Trailer, Available on Netflix and CBS All-Access)
Imagine your perfect match is standing right in front of you but you have no idea who they are. Do you think you could figure it out?
MTV’s Are You the One? challenges notoriously bad daters to work through their relationship issues and look past their “usual type” to see what they need rather than what they want. All 20 cast members need to make 10 correct perfect matches by the 10th episode, so the whole cast can win a million dollars.
Blind dating shows with big reveals
We all dream of running into that special someone in the grocery store, having a blind date actually go well, or locking eyes with someone from across a crowded room. Reality is usually different, and reality TV is usually VERY different. Whether the main couples on these shows met on the internet or not at all, they’ve all got an interesting origin story.
Love is Blind (Trailer, Available on Netflix)
Would you marry someone you’ve only talked to through a wall? Hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, Love is Blind asks singles from Atlanta, Georgia to see if such a connection is possible (or advisable).
Each contestant sits in a “pod” where they chat with another single. After a few weeks, five couples propose and finally meet each other face to face, then embark on a month-long cohabitation period before a planned wedding ceremony. Who will go through with it, and who will leave their newfound partner at the altar in front of all of their family and friends? Either way, you get to watch it.
90 Day Fiancé (Trailer, Available on Hulu)
Long distance relationships can be hard to maintain. Imagine a long-distance relationship with someone from across the globe where you only had 90 days to decide whether marriage was in the cards. That’s the premise of 90 Day Fiancé.
Through a visa which allows betrothed foreign nationals to visit their American fiances, these couples are living together and working through issues in person for the first time. Not only can you watch couples come to the United States but through their many spin-offs you can follow couples in every aspect of their journey as they navigate distance, cultural differences, and language barriers while fighting for love.
Married at First Sight (Trailer, Available on Netflix)
Some singles might be so fed up with the dating scene, they wouldn’t mind skipping ahead to the part where they’re already married. Married at First Sight makes that fantasy into reality through a matchmaking process that lets contestants show up at the altar and say “I Do” to a scientifically-selected stranger.
Each season follows a group of newlywed newly-mets through relationship milestones such as a honeymoon and moving in together. After a few weeks, the couples assess if they want to stay together or go their separate ways.
Catfish (Trailer, Available on Hulu)
If you’re not familiar with the modern verb form of “catfishing,” it has nothing to do with the bottom-dwelling river fish of the same name. But the practice - seducing a person online through a false identity - is slimy enough in its own way.
Nev Schulman starred in the acclaimed 2010 documentary Catfish, which explored his own experience of falling for a non-existent person. The show of the same name follows Nev’s quest to help other people out of the same predicament. There are plenty of shocking moments, sweet happy endings, and some wild interactions. If your significant other’s video camera has been broken for the past 9 years of your relationship, you might want to call Nev. If not, you might want to watch anyway.
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