Sexy Beasts is a messy queen who loves drama
An ode to messiness
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One thing about me: I am an agent of chaos, which means this week is my time to shine.
I would never “go” on a “dating” “show”, but if I “did”, it would probably be under the proviso that I am made up to look like a rat at all times. Many people have said to me “Michael, please stop thirsting after the hot rat from Flushed Away,” and to those people I say: no <3. Anyway, my dreams have been answered and finally there is a dating show where people are made up to look like rats (and tigers, and zombies, and sharks) and that show is Sexy Beasts.
As Marie Kondo said, I love mess. I love it! I love to see it, I love to tweet about it, I love to embody the very concept of messiness. Every person worth their salt is hilariously, unashamedly messy. Taylour Paige screaming at Riley Keough in the Zola trailer: “This is messy! YOU are messy!”. Kristen Bell high-fiving Ted Danson in The Good Place: “Girl, you are a messy bench who loves drama.” Joanne the Scammer, complete with hair flick: “I just wanted to let you girls know that I’m a real messy bitch.” All of this is to say: I am a person of mess experience, so believe me when I tell you that Sexy Beasts is a messy icon.
What does it even mean to be messy? I do not know. But what I do know is that messiness is a frame of mind, it’s way of life, it’s a religion, it’s transcendence, it’s embodiment, it’s a liminal space. I cannot define messiness but I know it when I see it, by which I mean: I know it when I see someone in a beaver costume with a full face of fur and two buck teeth utter the words “Ass first, personality second”. More specifically, I know it when I see a dating show about people in intricately and awe-inspiringly grotesque animal make-up trying to bone other people in intricately and awe-inspiringly grotesque animal make-up.
This is a show that lays out its intentions from the get-go. “When it comes to dating, we all go for looks first,” the narrator informs us in the first ten seconds. Sexy Beasts, of course, presents itself as the antidote to these superficial woes. No more judging books by their covers, it proclaims; this time, we’ll judge them by their prosthetic noses, face-paint whiskers, and artificial fins.
Much like its dating show predecessors — I’m thinking Love is Blind, except these people actually meet in person so there is more chemistry and therefore more chaos — the goal here is to find true love, although the reason we are watching is clearly because we are messy benches who love drama. I have never seen a set-up that is so actively geared to feed us — feral hogs that we are — exactly that: an utterly filthy stream of sex talk, petty revenge, and one-liners that are truly too insane to be scripted. (“I wanna get married, I wanna have babies before I’m like 26,” gushes a panda to nose-ringed bull, and then, without missing a beat: “Do you have health insurance?”).
And that set-up is deceptively complex: a prosthetically uglified — all of them are hot beforehand, obviously — participant goes on a rapid-fire blind date with three potential suitors: among them aliens, tin men, pixies, zombies, mice, beavers, the whole glass menagerie or whatever Tennessee Williams said. (If my competitor was a pixie and I was a zombie I would be mad, but this is not a show to equivocate). One of the suitors then gets unceremoniously booted out at the quote-unquote Sexy Beasts Manor, but not before all of them receive a stirring speech about each of their pros and cons as romantic partners. See above: MESSY! Then the remaining two go on dates, then true love is found, etc. etc. etc.
Say what you want about this show but it is more self-aware than any of us will ever hope to be. Is it fully aware that it is the messiest show on TV? Yes — down to the amount of reaction shots it includes of everyday passersby trapped in the fray, witnessing a pair of zoo animals in a romantic tete-a-tete at a carnival. Is it fully aware that we are continuing to watch in spite of — or really, in my case, because of — its messiness? Also yes. In the words of one contestant: “I am so single I’m dressed up as a panda bear to try and find a connection with somebody.” Sometimes, the most deranged shows...are the most relatable.
Sexy Beasts is now streaming.
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I can’t stop thinking about:
This reflection on Never Have I Ever in The Guardian. “Never have I ever felt so seen by a television show,” writes Zoya Patel, “seen in all of my cross-cultural, problematic, uncomfortable, funny, sad, angry glory.”
And apropos of nothing, the idea of watching a movie on a GameBoy Advance:
This is actually an absurdist, utilitarian, Lynchian, Kafkaesque, post-post-modern, Lars Von Trierian method of viewing but y’all are simply not ready for that conversation. Sidenote: Does anyone remember when Nintendo DS’s came with cameras and you could literally take a photo of your face and turn it into a Mii figure? I believe that is the era in which my life peaked.