Netflix’s ‘Sexy Beasts’ looks way more fun than it actually is

I’ll always remember Sexy Beasts as the reality dating premise that got away.

Things started off well enough. When Netflix dropped the first trailer for its new matchmaking game last month, Twitter lit up with excitement. The potential for a The Masked Singer-meets-Love Is Blind hybrid, in which contestants look for love while disguised by zany prosthetic makeup, was immediately apparent. Watching a flirty panda bear spend a night on the town with a robot, a bull, and an alien? You have to admit: It sounds positively charming.

And yet, in its final form, Sexy Beasts doesn’t live up to the promise of its fantastical hook. It’s not that its creators and contestants fail to fully commit to the “hot animals” bit; they genuinely seem to get into the whole campy schtick. But a lack of stakes, a repetitive formula, and a few missed opportunities sink an otherwise good idea.

Each episode a heavily-disguised bachelor or bachelorette is presented with three just as heavily-disguised singles. Their heads and faces are completely covered, leaving only silhouettes and hands as clues to their real appearance.

Following a night of goofy first impressions, the four creatures gather at the regal “Sexy Beasts Manor” where the eligible person must choose one contestant to cut based on personality alone. The eliminated person then reveals what’s beneath their mask before the remaining singles duke it out during a second round of one-on-one dates.

Wow, that panda is bambootiful!
Credit: netflix

From a romantic night of bowling to an adventure in skeet shooting, Sexy Beasts has these available animals do all sorts of activities to get to know each other better. Watching onlookers gawk at the weirdness of wannabe Animorphs cozying up is a solid source of fun, even when the couples’ connections get bumpy. But after the dates are finished, the starring sexy beast must choose a final mate before the remaining identities are revealed. And that’s when things fall apart.

Ostensibly, Sexy Beasts’ wacky disguises are a key element of yet another Netflix reality “experiment” testing how appearance impacts romance. But like a word or phrase repeated too many times, that conceptual framework has lost all meaning in its latest iteration.

With only the vague promise of “a second date” on the line and some remarkably unimaginative casting — everyone in this show is too conventionally hot and heteronormative for the facilitated anonymity to be meaningful — Sexy Beasts’ stakes are shockingly low. When you’re not invested in who ends up with whom on a dating show, that poses a real problem.

Even if this goes well, I’m not sure it’s possible for them to kiss…?
Credit: netflix

Across six episodes, each running under 25 minutes, Sexy Beasts goes through the Dating Game-esque motions without ever giving us a reason to really care. While the participants are perfectly likable, the series struggles to move past the obvious silliness of the situation to capture the people behind the makeup.

It’s perfectly watchable — just not the beastly binge we’d hoped for.

There are nice enough moments and the brevity makes it bearable. Still, I struggled to keep the storylines and characters of different episodes distinct in my memory. Pressing play on another installment of Sexy Beasts feels less like starting a new chapter, and more like starting the same story over again. Of course, that gets boring fast.

The most obvious opportunity to introduce variety comes in the over-the-top costuming of the contestants. But, for whatever reason, the series chooses to treat the makeup strictly as a prop. We’re never given the reasoning behind why or how certain looks were chosen for certain people, and the actual transformations happen entirely offscreen. That choice means the most fun part of the show gets cut surprisingly short, and the most interesting aspect of the series never gets to shine.

Our apologies to the woman ‘Sexy Beasts’ dressed as an actual troll.
Credit: netflix

Reasonably entertaining but never obsession-worthy, Sexy Beasts is a disappointment. Hilarious narration by voice-over host Rob Delaney helps keep things moving and there’s certainly some fun to be had in seeing these incredible creations. But just because Sexy Beasts is watchable doesn’t make it the beastly binge we’d hoped for.

Sexy Beasts is now streaming on Netflix.

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