Munya Vomo

With more than seven billion people on the planet, finding the “ideal” life partner can be daunting. You might frequently find a person you get along with, but that doesn’t mean they are the “one”. You do not want to settle for someone today, only to find there is something “better” tomorrow. So most of us take our time navigating through life in the hope of stumbling on the ultimate companion. Some people get it right, but for others it becomes an endless search.

For the folks of MTV’s Are You the One?, the scenario is different. This is another dating show that tries to push the boundaries on matters of the heart. After an overdose of shows like The Bachelor where one man is chased by several women, on Are You the One? everyone has a chance of walking away with someone.

We meet 20 singles, 10 male, 10 female. They were selected because of their good looks, but to make things interesting they were also chosen because of their personalities. The show’s producers have tried their best to pair these personalities in a matchmaking kind of way. So the 20 people don’t know who they are hooked up with and are taken to an island to spend time with each other and figure out who belongs where.

The pairs that form over time have to do activities together to test the chemistry between them. When they feel they are ready to be vetted, they enter a room where they learn if they got the right partner. This is the tricky part because what we perceive as right for us is not necessarily so – well, according to the producers. Of course, what the producers perceive as the perfect match might not be the case either. We fall for whomever we want to and looks and personality are just part of it, not the deciding factor. So yes, there may be a fat cash prize that comes with all 10 matches being made, but the flaw of the producers assuming that two particular people will get along still stands.

The other flaw is that the two groups are divided according to gender, thus the 10 men and 10 women. From the promos you can tell the show is gunning for heterosexual matches, but what if two homosexual matches occur, won’t that rock the expected balance? Unfortunately, Are You the One? comes across as another dating show destined for a short life on TV because of its failure to grasp the intricacies that come with meeting people and dating.

You might watch the show out of curiosity, but don’t expect to hear any wedding bells.

Of course, other dating programmes like Exposed and The Bachelor have tried different ways to hook up people, but one thing soon becomes apparent: you can’t put love and dating into a test tube. They grow freely out here in the wild.

l Are You the One? airs every Thursday at 8.30pm on MTV (DStv channel 130).