Another week, another new programme on Channel 4. And this one is a doozy, but for all the wrong reasons.
On Monday, Channel 4 aired its first episode of Naked Attraction – a new dating show in which mate-seeking singletons get to pick a new potential partner by picking them out of a line up. Oh, just one more thing, they are posing in nothing but their birthday suits.
Yep. Stark naked. But it’s ok, they are standing in front of the coloured backdrop so it’s not like they were standing in an open room naked or anything…
I mean, that would be ridiculous. They would never let that kind of thing on TV.
I knew when the adverts were broadcast leading up to the first episode that the show would be shocking. Not ‘hey, look, he has his penis out’ shocking but just plain BAD. I wanted to give it a go, it might not have been as awful as I was anticipating and maybe it would even teach me something about bodies, love or self-confidence.
The introduction asked “what would happen if we were stripped of all the things that usually define us?” and they didn’t beat around the bush (pun unintended) with getting straight to the point. I was expecting a long intro, a reason why they thought it would be good to get people to meet naked but there was nothing. Within a couple of minutes we had met the host and six naked bodies were revealed from the waist down.
Now, nudity on television has come a long way and I’m used to seeing some flesh on my screen most evenings but there was something different about this. Unlike the many (MANY) boobs in Games of Thrones that have now become part of the story line and almost expected to be in the background of most scenes, these naked bodies were the main feature. They were there to be eyed up and judged.
That’s exactly what made this uncomfortable. The whole premise of the show is judging someone on their body. Deciding whether you want to date them on the size of the penis, the firmness of their bum or the perkiness of their boobs.
Although the screen rose higher to reveal chests and then faces, the emphasis remained on flesh. Do you like their body?
A small part of me jumped for joy when other features – especially eyes and voices – eventually came in to play. But as someone who has pretty average eyes and an unflattering voice, I couldn’t help but think about how uncomfortable I would feel being picked on what I look or sound like.
Removing all the awkward penis shots, the weird naked hugs and the unusual rejections (‘I don’t like the way he is standing’ – mate, he’s naked. I would be standing WAY more awkward if I was naked in a TV studio), there was something much bigger that didn’t work for me.
In a body conscious society is a TV programme focusing solely on how important your body is really helping? So many brands, magazines, blogs and other TV programmes are trying to champion the belief that you are more than your body. That, yes, you should love you body whatever shape it is, but that there are other parts of you that you should love too. Your mind, your humour or your ability to see the good in other people. Things that can attract you to someone and make them realise you are exactly what they need in your life. The things that make you, you!
During the episode it compared the new series to a night out, stating it was flipping the ‘usual way to meet people’ on its head. But I don’t agree. It is exactly like a drunken night out. Or rather, like the morning after when you suddenly find yourself waking up in bed with a complete stranger. Not knowing them from Adam. Having to learn about their personality for the first time because either you can’t remember them from the night before or their drunken persona wasn’t the same as their now very sober persona.
Like the show, you wake up seeing every last bulge and wrinkle and so straight away you know whether you (still!) find them attractive, but it’s not until you get to talk to them and find out what they like/don’t like that you truly know whether this relationship can go any further. So, what’s so different between this and the TV series? You still have no idea until you go on a date whether you like the person!
I feel like if we are going to do another dating show, it probably shouldn’t make people think that their body is the be all and end all. It should champion their brains, how outgoing they are or what ambitions they have. It should show that other people find your thirst for knowledge or discovery attractive. It should show you that the very things that make you who you are, is what someone will fall in love with.
Naked Attraction was created because Channel 4 wanted a quick and easy ratings boost. But it could really do more damage than it’s worth.
And that really is the bottom line.