Women have never had the stakes stacked more in their favour in the television dating game, with a plethora of new shows turning gender tropes upside down.
With the #MeToo movement forcing programme creators to rethink and feminise many traditional formats, women contestants get to try out a mix of men at home.
Analysts at MIPCOM, the world’s biggest entertainment market in the French Riviera resort of Cannes, say laddish shows may have had their day.
A woman invites five suitors to live with her in “Five Guys a Week” from Britain’s Channel 4, then gives them their marching orders if they fail to please her.
“The guys all live with her at the same time and have to compete” for her favour, said Virginia Mouseler of The Wit industry database.
In a clip from the forthcoming series shown in Cannes, divorcee Amy tells her hunky beau that “it pains me to have to eliminate you” while two minutes later she confesses to the camera, “I love it that it’s me that does the picking.”
– Drag queen fairy godmothers –
Another show exciting international buyers is the hilarious Israeli reality format, “Queens of Love”.
In it, three drag queens take a lovelorn woman under their wing and help her find the right partner.
As well as offering inside advice on the inner workings of the male mind, the queens question her suitors and investigate their private lives to find the skeletons in their cupboards.
“Undercover Twins” from Britain’s Channel 5 takes an age-old male fantasy and turns it on its head.
This time it is twin sisters who decide which of eight men who must charm and impress them in “Big Brother”-style challenges might be the most suitable.
With none of the guys aware that the single woman has an identical twin, the sisters are free to bamboozle them.
As well as helping each other make the right choice, Mouseler said, the show asks if the “twins will fall for the same guy?”
Ireland’s “Generation Dating” puts its trust in more old-fashioned matchmaking, recruiting a granny to help find the right partner for a millennial.
The twist is that the young person must also help the grandmother find love and companionship by helping her negotiate dating apps like Tinder.
– Having it both ways –
But no amount of data can create the right chemistry.
A new Spanish show argues that “Love Comes Where You Least Expect It”, putting together five people whose unusual lifestyles have stopped them finding Mr or Ms right.
Among the candidates in its first season is a raw food vegetarian who lives on an isolated farm; the captain of a luxury yacht; a fairground worker who goes from town to town in a caravan, and a handsome free spirit who wanders the world in a tent with his dog.
True love, of course, is never guaranteed. Even if you find a partner, how do you know he or she is really right for you?
Which is where “the radical new social experiment” of “Singletown” comes in, from Britain’s ITV, the broadcaster that brought the world “Love Island”.
In it, couples are put to the test, breaking up for a trial separation where they will live like singletons for a week in a luxury apartment, being introduced to a procession of tempting suitors.
With the shackles off, they are encouraged to let their hair down.
They will also be able to watch how their “exes” are getting on with their dates — nextdoor.
“At the end of the week they are brought together and they must decide whether their old relationship” was the “real thing” or whether they will have a flutter with a new partner.