For its past seven seasons, MTV's reality dating series Are You the One? gave viewers an interesting spin on a tried-and-true formula. The series put a big group of hot 20-somethings in a house and tasked them with finding their perfect match, as selected by relationship experts. The matchmaking element added a new flavor, but at its core, it was just another of the scores of dating shows about straight people hooking up. That all changed with this current season, though, and now Are You the One? Season 8 has become the queer dating show that best represents the millennial generation.
In its current season, Are You the One? has flipped the script and is featuring a cast comprised entirely of sexually fluid men, women, and non-binary people. The new cast runs the gamut in terms of race, gender identity, and even sexuality, with some contestants still struggling to accept some of their attractions alongside others who fully embrace pansexuality. With such an unprecedented amount of diversity in the house, the new season is immediately gripping not only because it offers completely unique storylines and often-underrepresented intersectional issues, but also a massive twist in terms of gameplay. After all, it was hard enough for groups of straight people to find their opposite-sex matches in past seasons, and now everyone in the house is a potential match.
In only its first three episodes, the new season of Are You the One? has already tackled a ton of LGBTQ-specific issues that are very rarely, if ever, spoken about on mainstream television. Right off the bat, Kai hits it off with Jenna. Kai, who is a trans man, bonds with Jenna even more after asking her to watch him inject his hormones.
It is a sweet moment, but the real genius of this season of Are You the One? is that it is still a messy MTV dating show underneath it all, so that bonding moment is followed up by a sloppy hook-up. Despite his strong bond with Jenna, Kai sleeps with Remy that night. Kai claims that he gets horny after injecting his hormones, plus the sexual fluidity of the house also seeps into some contestants being more open and potentially polyamorous than others, adding so many more layers to what would be viewed as a cut-and-dry betrayal on a straight dating show.
The next episode delves into even more specific issues prevalent in the queer dating world, as Basit confronts their crush Jonathan over the importance that he seems to be placing on masculinity. Despite his connection with Basit, a non-binary person, Jonathan says he cannot see them as a romantic connection. Instead, he fawns over the muscular Justin, leading Basit to challenge Jonathan to look beyond the physical in terms of a connection. The moment will ring familiar for all gay viewers, given the prevalence of the toxic term "masc for masc" within the gay dating community.
Are You the One? is not the first LGBTQ+ dating show — VH1's Finding Prince Charming put a gay spin on The Bachelor in 2016 and E!'s The Bi Life featured bisexual contestants last year — but it is the first to feature a full cast of sexually fluid daters, several of whom also identify as genderfluid or non-binary. It all boils down to the perfect formula to witness some rare, intersectional conversations about the interplays between race, sexuality, and gender... all while also reveling in some super messy and dramatic reality show antics.
Are You the One? Season 8 is airing Wednesdays at 9 p.m. ET. on MTV.