I am on a constant quest for love. As it exists in reality television, I mean. With the end of Temptation Island fast approaching, I feared for the coming void in my heart. How would I ever again watch the slow-motion disintegration of a relationship? Or the lightening-speed formation of an obvious rebound? Could I ever love (another reality tv show about love) again?
I found my solution in variety. It’s impossible to expect that one love-themed reality show can provide everything to keep my love-obsessed brain satiated. Instead, I found five shows — each that filled a specific void that will be left in the wake of the Temptation Island reunion. Watch the season finale of Temptation Island Thursday, Dec. 19 at 9pm ET, then check out these shows.
Ex on the Beach: Peak of Love
Try it if you miss…Temptation Island‘s drunken house parties.
There’s a dizzying free-for-all vibe amongst certain Temptation Island-ers (David, I’m looking mostly at you). One minute, he’s with Kate. Then he’s naked in the shower with Samantha. And by the next episode, he’s all-in on Toneata. Ex on the Beach: Peak of Love plays the same game of musical chairs. But with a broader range of genders and sexual orientations, the show offers many more potential combinations.
Starting with a house full of reality tv “stars” (from former Bachelorette contestants to imports from UK shows like Love Island and time-tested Challenge contestants), the show slowly mixes in the ex-flames of these contestants, all while the contestants are doing a little mixing (with their exes, which each other, or both) of their own. And in doing so, it asks all the important questions (not the least of which is “why would you come back for him when he left you for a reality tv show???”). Whether you’re a young hip millennial who actually knows who La Demi is (hint: she has her own YouTube channel) or just want to watch pretty people be stumped by the pronunciation of ‘apres-ski,’ Ex on the Beach: Peak of Love could be just what you’re looking for.
Ex on the Beach: Peak of Love airs Thursdays at 9pm ET on MTV. Recent episodes, as well as the three previous seasons of Ex on the Beach, are available on demand.
Try it if you miss…Mark L. Walberg’s armchair therapy at every bonfire ever.
Sure, the couples of Temptation Island might rip each other’s hearts out on a semi-regular basis. But at the end of the day, the stakes are blessedly low. Nobody’s married, nobody has children. They have nothing to lose (except each other, and the last one to three years of their romantic lives).
The same cannot be said for the Couples Therapy couples. The show’s short, 22-minute episodes are compelling but almost too heavy to be binged. Enjoy them slowly, because you’ll need time to reflect. Each episode features excerpts of real couples, attending counseling to address real problems. Some are newly married, others have been together over 20 years. But they all are looking to therapist Orna Guralnik to help them understand how they’ve managed to get so far from where they wanted to be.
It’s fascinating to trace each couple’s journey. The problems they’ve come to discuss are rarely the problems they end up uncovering, and it’s nearly impossible to predict each couple’s outcome. The best part, however, is getting insights from Orna herself. While we mostly see her staring at the couples with an unrelenting gaze, it’s good to know that there’s a human in there too.
Season 1 of Couples Therapy is available on Showtime on demand.
90 Day Fiance
Try it if you miss…Watching Ben and Ashley H. build a full-blown relationship over the course of approximately 72 hours.
There’s love at first(ish) sight, and then there’s a small Turkish man who speaks no English running around Nebraska with a beekeeper and her three spiteful children. Honestly, I’m not sure which one brings me more joy.
The original 90 Day Fiance (not to be confused with its many, MANY spinoffs) is back. The show traces the stories of Americans whose foreign fiances are coming to the US on a K-1 visa. Under the terms of their visa, they must either get married in the 90 days following the fiance’s arrival, or the fiance will need to return home.
Over the course of its now seven (!) seasons, the show has become decidedly more outlandish. To that end, we’re now following couples such as Sasha and Emily. She’s an English teacher from Portland who just gave birth to his third child and hopes to become his third wife; he’s a personal trainer from a small Russian town who can’t understand why she won’t go to the gym more to lose the baby weight. And then there’s Julian and Michael. He’s a walking mid-life crisis from Connecticut with two precocious children and an ex-wife who mildly tolerates him; she’s a scary-thin model from Brazil who likes buying cars with his credit card. And this only begins to scratch the surface of what the show has to offer. From grandmas who moonlight in adult films to she-shed living situations, 90 Day Fiance makes romance that much more insane.
90 Day Fiance airs Sundays at 7pm ET on TLC. Recent episodes, as well as the six previous seasons of the show, are available on demand.
Dating #NoFilter; Blind Date
Try it if you miss…Listening to your own snarky commentary during Esonica and Kareem’s latest date (but would rather leave that to the experts).
I’m a sucker for first-date dating shows. Just like Temptation Island dates, there’s a sense of hope, an eagerness to learn something new — and a whole lot of awkwardness along the way.
Both Dating #NoFilter and Blind Date (Bravo’s revival of the original) drop two unsuspecting individuals into each other’s lives, and film the (ever-unpredictable) results. Both also offer color commentary along the way. Nikki Glaser (helped by some campy on-screen animations) lends her voice to Blind Date, while three pairs of comedians weigh in on Dating #NoFilter’s antics.
And while the premise of each show is pretty similar, the vibes are distinctly different. Dating #NoFilter is a cautionary tale of a Los Angeles dating app, filled with lap-dancing personal trainers and the flightiest of festival-ware designers (who, ironically, is one-half of the show’s biggest success stories).
Blind Date, on the other hand, films in Atlanta. And while its daters may be down to earth, it doesn’t mean they’re any less nuts. Take, for example, school teacher Lisa, who loves to talk about vodka (almost as much as she likes drinking it) and drops a stream of sexual innuendos to her sober date. The best he could muster in response? “For being a 44-year-old woman, though, her body looked nice. And that’s good!”
The first two seasons of Dating #NoFilter are available on demand on E! The series will return in early 2020.
Blind Date airs Sundays through Thursdays at 11:30pm ET on Bravo. Recent episodes are available on demand.