‘Perfect match’ and the dystopia of Netflix dating shows

One of the platforms newest creations is contrived to cater to a rapidly decreasing attention span



Though “Perfect Match” is an entertaining, low stakes dating show, it signifies deeper issues in the future of media.

Alexa Terry, A&E Editor


Recently I was perusing the vast array of entertainment the streaming platform “Netflix” has to offer. scrolling past various offensive stand-up comedy specials, “Big-Mouth” adjacent adult animation and teen rom coms, I eventually landed on the newest dating show produced by the platform, “Perfect Match.” 

The premise of the show is yet another ripoff of the UK hit “Love Island,” in which ten hot people are put in a beautiful tropical resort together and told to mate. The twist? Every participant has previously been on another Netflix reality show. 

When making my decision, I was expecting a hate watch. Under certain definitions, that is exactly what I got. I found the relationships cringy, many of the people bizarre or just awful, and the set ups to be predictable. However, another part of me could not look away. 

This is of course, the appeal of reality TV: we want to watch people we feel that we know, engage in a life we will never get to experience. However the newest iteration of the genre we are seeing on Netflix shows such as “Perfect Match” is a complete 180 from where it began. 

In the past, shows such as “The Real Housewives” franchise, “Jersey Shore” and “Vanderpump Rules” have gained cult followings due to the unique and expressive personalities of their subjects. While parts of these shows are no doubt manufactured to appeal to the limited attention spans of their viewers, they did not rely on cheap gimmicks to give the viewer a hit of dopamine every three minutes. Though parts may have been scripted, the lives these people were living were real. 

This is where they stray from recent shows of the same genre. On “Perfect Match” there are hardly five minutes that pass without the contestants being forced into some sort of challenge, arbitrary pairing or interference from the host, Nick Lachey. Though the personalities on the show can be interesting, the plot doesn’t rely on them for entertainment. Instead, the plot relies on the producers to create interesting dynamics among the cast.

This is seen in the setting, a large expensive villa in a mysterious tropical location. With the cast being from across the world, the environment does little to express any of the characters.   

The charm of classic reality TV was the lack of production, the drama was rewarding because it wasn’t being forced down our throat. 

This cannot be said for “Perfect Match.” From the second characters are introduced, the screen is overrun with flashing lights, writing on the screen and cheesy catch phrases such as Chloe who “Puts the sex in Essex.” 

The characters on the show are similarly contrived, with all of them having previously been on a netflix reality show of some sort, creators are able to hand pick the people who will create as toxic and precarious an environment as possible. 

A standout example of this character selection is one of the series villains, Franchesca. On her former show, “Too Hot to Handle” she was known for stirring the pot, often making poor (yet entertaining) decisions regarding her relationships to other members. 

On Perfect Match, she is no different. Selecting the men she wants to chase and then leaving them in the dust when she decides they are no longer entertaining.  

Everybody on the show plays a role, as if they are fictional characters creating an intentional plot. Franchesca is the villain, Joey and Kariselle are the two lovebirds with a long history, chloe is the ditzy brit and Chase is the noncommittal heartbreaker.

Rather than containing depth and personality as real people do, the characters are confined to tropes so the show can be an easy and enjoyable viewing experience, requiring minimal thought from the audience. 

“Perfect Match” is a glimpse into the future of reality TV, a future in which we no longer want to be dedicated to the media we consume. Instead, we just want to consume it raw as if it is a pot of leftover halloween candy, providing dopamine hit after dopamine hit until we vomit.