Nostalgia Trip: MTV reality dating shows of the ’00s

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By now, I think it’s safe to say that we’ve all seen/talked incessantly about VH1’s hot new show Dating Naked. The show sets up blind dates in the nude on an island somewhere in paradise. Don’t question it, just watch it.

And while Dating Naked is a true gem, I can’t help but reminisce about the multitude of reality dating competition shows I watched as a tweenager. I’d inhale a bowl of Reeses Puffs, sit in front of my pre-DVR TV, and watch hours of NEXT and Room Raiders with ads for “Floam” and Kidz Bop in between. So if you’re bored with all your programs and looking for something new to watch this week, maybe do a little #tbt to MTV from the early 2000’s.

1. NEXT

On NEXT, potential dates are brought out one at a time while the rest wait their turn in a secluded RV. The catch is that the dater can say “NEXT” to any date at any time. The action inside of the RV is filmed as well, giving the contestants a chance to debrief their dates (if they’re nexted) slash talk about all the dumb stuff people talk about on reality TV.

The show seems pretty straightforward, except there’s this weird money part that I never really understood. The potential date is paid by the dater for the number of minutes he or she lasted on the date (1 minute = 1 dollar). If the person is not “nexted,” then they’re allowed to either go on a second date or take the money and run. While most reality TV shows try to blunt the superficial aspect of blind dating, NEXT takes it head on. It’s not uncommon for characters to be nexted on physical appearance alone. That and the whole money-in-exchange-for-dating (*cough*prostitution) thing makes it the JUICIEST SHOW EVER. Truly a reality TV show must see.

This particular episode is filled with witty one liners like “Eddie was more framboiled than my hamburger.” After a half-hour date, one of the contestants is nexted for being a smoker and starts to CRY. “She was like my crafted woman,” says 19-year-old “Italian Stallion” Justin. Other highlights from the episode include 19-year-old personal trainer Allison asking “so how much clothes do you own?” (answer: like 300 shirts), and the romantic date to the dentist’s office (Allison’s really into guys with good hygiene). This date ends with the winner and Allison (romantically) spitting Listerine into the same bowl.

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