Opinion | Netflix's bizarre masked dating show 'Sexy Beasts' can't disguise its failures

Opinion | Ani Bundel: Netflix's bizarre masked dating show 'Sexy Beasts' can't disguise its failures. - @NBCNewsTHINK

7/22/2021 6:32:00 AM

Opinion | Ani Bundel: Netflix's bizarre masked dating show 'Sexy Beasts' can't disguise its failures. - NBCNewsTHINK

Whether you are hoping for some kind of kinky titillation, or even just the fun of being the fly on the wall of a bad date, this show fails at every level.

The extraordinarily low stakes for the “winner” of each episode is the first problem. No one is proposing marriage or happily ever after, or even going steady. Part of the reason “The Bachelor” works as well as it has for nearly two decades and counting is that people cannot get enough of the bizarre spectacle of watching someone go on TV and literally use a game show to make a life commitment. (The fact that said commitment usually fails, and the contestant in question is left with little more than the dubious honor of an automatic “Dancing With the Stars” berth, is of little importance.) Here, we’re not even getting to the point where one might add the contestants to their Instagram follows.

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But the biggest issue is that the show undermines its own premise from the start. Whatever one might think of Netflix’s other shows, they really commit to the gag. “The Circle” contestants seem to really be trying to judge if their date is legit or if they’re just being catfished, an experience anyone who has flirted with a stranger on the internet can relate to. “Too Hot to Handle” does at least attempt to force its contestants to get to know each other as people before getting intimate.

But the biggest issue is that the show undermines its own premise from the start.But “Sexy Beasts,” which claims to also be taking appearances out of the dating equation, is doing no such thing. The opening episode, “Emma the Demon,” features a woman whose job it is to be a model, and whose clearly ultra-conventional good looks are not well hidden beneath her Hollywood-level “devil” prosthetics. Even those who have wilder, more unorthodox makeup covering their faces (a praying mantis comes to mind) don’t have much more than a bit of makeup on their hands. Contestants know what they’re getting below the neck, meaning male contestants who openly volunteer that they are into “big boobs,” or a “large butt” are able (and all too happy) to leer at their dates’ physical forms, even as everyone incessantly worries about ending up with someone who is not blessed with a perfectly symmetrical face. headtopics.com

The series attempts to make fun of its own failures by having comedian Rob Delaney narrate. His commentary is the saving grace of most episodes, as he cringes along with us at home. The banality of the proceedings are matched by the shallowness of the contestants. For those who are movie magic dorks (or just really loved SyFy’s old reality competition “Face/Off”) prosthetics and makeup wizard Kristyan Mallet’s design work is worth the price of watching the first few minutes of every episode, just to see the kind of detail that goes into making a man into a beaver. But once the dating starts, it goes downhill quickly.

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