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‘Sexy Beasts’ is Counterintuitive.

‘Sexy Beasts’ promotes itself as different from other dating shows as being not appearance-based. This is true to some extent thanks to the special effects makeup. However, looks do still play a role despite the masks.

The concept of Sexy Beasts (2021) revolves around contestants going on dates with heavy SFX prosthetics. Since their facial features are completely covered, they have to rely solely on personality to find a connection. That’s the premise on paper, but the actual implementation of the series isn’t that cut and dry.

Sexy Beasts promotes itself as different from other dating shows as being non appearance-based. This is true to some extent — the special effects makeup makes it fairly hard to guess at the person’s features underneath. However, looks do still play a role to an extent, despite the masks. While all of the makeup applied isn’t traditionally attractive, some of the costumes are easier on the eyes than others. Take for example Tamiko, (who gets dressed as a zombie), or Karissa, (who gets dressed as a troll.) Objectively speaking, they look worse than the other contestants prosthetic/cosmetic-wise. Neither of them get chosen, and while I don’t think it’s solely due to their costume appearance, it surely has to play a role.

The main promotional poster for ‘Sexy Beasts’
The main promotional poster for ‘Sexy Beasts’.

On a similar note, people’s bodies are still in the equation. This actually comes up in episode two when James (who gets dressed as a beaver) pulls out a chair for each one of his dates. He admits it’s partially to get a better look at their backside. (Classy, right?)

On that topic, I do not feel as though Sexy Beasts is all that size inclusive. Plus size bodies were scarce, and they mostly had on those with muscular or slim body types. While there’s an attempt to take looks out of the equation, a number of the contestants are as shallow as you would expect on any other dating show.

To give credit where credit is due, Sexy Beasts does include more people of color than I’ve seen in other series, which seem white by majority! There’s a good mix of contestants from different ethnic backgrounds.

However, something I would’ve liked to see is LGBTQ+ representation. They could’ve had some contestants who were trans or non-binary, or some episodes featuring all gay/lesbian contestants. But no, it’s formulaically three women competing for one man or three men competing for one woman. How heteronormative — but perhaps this can change in the future if there’s a season renewal and more episodes to come.

Contestant Karrisa (dressed up as a troll) pictured on the left. Contestant Gabi pictured front and center (dressed up as an owl). Contestant Bella (dressed up as a triceratops) pictured on the right. Out of the three, Karissa‘s makeup job is far less appealing visually.
Contestant Karrisa (dressed up as a troll) pictured on the left. Contestant Gabi pictured front and center (dressed up as an owl). Contestant Bella (dressed up as a triceratops) pictured on the right. Out of the three, Karissa‘s makeup job is far less appealing visually.

Another layer that didn’t sit right with me is how nearly all of the contestants are objectively attractive. You wouldn’t believe how reoccurring it was for a contestant to be described as a model by the narrator; you could make a drinking game out of it! There may be three or four contestants that might not be as conventionally attractive as the rest of the bunch, but they are average at the least. I feel like that aspect is to the show’s detriment, as it comes off hypocritically. There are mentions of some of the participants being judged for being too attractive to the point where they’re only pursued for their looks. I’m not going to say that issue isn’t valid, but not once did anyone say they had trouble dating from being perceived as unattractive.

Sexy Beasts also makes a big song and dance of revealing what all the participants really look like. The first person eliminated gets shown what the one who is being competed for looks like. They then (unmasked) come before the person they went on a date with, and the two others who have not been eliminated. The majority of the time, the one who makes the choice says they regret it a little once they see how attractive they were.

A still from "Sexy Beasts" of a contestant dressed as a panda
Contestant Kariselle dressed as a panda

Alternatively, once it comes down to the final contestant and they are both unmasked, it’s made verbal how excited/relieved both are that the other one is good looking. I think it’d be more impactful (in terms of the eliminated) if they’ve never known who the person they were competing for looked like and vice versa. What should it matter to them if they’re beautiful? The point feels missed. If the show isn’t about looks, how come appearance seems to be crucially highlighted?

One last thing to touch on is one of the more human-looking masks that seems uncomfortably like a stereotype. A contestant named Lilly gets put in makeup that the narrator refers to as a “witch”. When I think “witch”, I would expect something more on the lines of how the Wizard of Oz depicts them. Green, cartoonish black pointy hats, etc. In my opinion, the SFX work comes off as a caricature of a Romani woman. From the more realistic skin tone to the headpiece and bangles, I suspect the costume was originally labeled as a “gypsy” (a term that in recent times has stopped being used as more people see it for the slur it is). They then may have realized it was politically incorrect, and changed it to “witch”. Perhaps I’m reading too far into it, but I will ask you to look at the image and think honestly what it reminds you more of.

Lilly in her “witch” costume.
Lilly in her “witch” costume.

I would give Sexy Beasts a 3.5 for an Incluvie rating! I appreciate how they include quite a few people of color. However, I’d hope to see the possibility of the show further incorporating more diversity. Particularly, I’d like to see the inclusion of gay contestents and pairings, varying body types, and more average looking people competing.

As a ranking in general, the series gets a 3/5 rating. The SFX makeup is cool to look at, but a few minutes into each episode the novelty starts to wane. It’s not particularly deep or that entertaining, and starts to feel formulaic real fast. It makes for better background entertainment, something to occasionally glance at while doing a hobby or an errand.