top of page

Reality Dating TV from the U.S., Japan, & Korea: Differences in Story & Attitude

I hate reality dating shows. At least I did. I tried watching it when I was younger but found it ridiculous. Between the drama and backstabbing, I found it dumb. But I decided to try it again after years, for the sake of my curiosity. I watched the Korean dating show Singles Inferno and I was intrigued. For the first time in 20 years, I enjoyed a reality dating show. There were emotions, but the drama was kept to a minimum, and they all played fair. There wasn’t a designated villain, drama queen, douche bag, etc. If you’ve ever watched a reality dating show, you know what I’m talking about. The show was done well enough that I wanted to see how it all ended and who left with who.

Then I decided to try Love is Blind: Japan. This show is exactly what it sounds like. Singles go on “dates” where they enter pods and talk with each other. The goal is to have them fall in love with someone they can’t see. Then they get engaged, meet for the first time in person, live together for three weeks, then make the decision to get married, or not. Again, I enjoyed the show. The way it was done made me care about the people. The emotions were high at times, but it wasn’t explosive and no one was trying to defeat anyone else in some weird competition. They spoke to each other in calm respectful voices, and they all sat and listened to each other even if they had issues with each other.

Then out of curiosity, I watched Love is Blind the original U.S. version. Well, I only made it one and a half episodes in before I turned it off with irritation. I wanted to compare the two different ways of approaching this kind of show.

Turn’s out, the U.S. one is exactly the way I remembered dating shows from the past. The show had so much arrogance, entitlement, and inflated egos in it that I wondered how they got through the doors with such big heads. Emotions were high, but so was the drama. Also, I did not care about any of the singles. I could not have cared less about who they left with. From what I saw, they would all deserve each other (in a bad way).

Maybe I didn’t give the U.S. show enough of a chance, but I couldn’t bring myself to sit through it anymore.

A good example of what I’m talking about is the way they responded to negative situations. In Love is Blind: Japan, a single would say, “Yes, I like you, but I also like this other person, I need to think about it.” It didn’t matter if it was a man or a woman, the response was: “I see, I understand.” This was a very mature and reserved response. Whereas in Love is Blind (U.S.) there was a similar conversation. A single told another single she liked him, but after a date, with someone else, she told him she needed to think. His response? “What the f*#k?!” and they proceeded to have a drama-filled argument. Then, it gets better, she talks to the other guy. The day before, he had told her he’d propose to her on the spot, but now he tells her he needs to think because he likes two other women besides her. Her response? She walks out on him and starts telling her rivals what an a$$ he is, then she goes back to the other guy begging forgiveness.

Yeah, I lost patience and turned it off.

It’s reality TV, so I understand it’s fake. But it is still important to make the stories fun. It’s still important to make the audience like the characters. For me, Singles Inferno succeeded, Love is Blind: Japan succeeded, but the original Love is Blind did not. It was not for me.

bottom of page