This coming weekend, BBC Three is launching the UK’s first-ever gay reality dating series, I Kissed a Boy.
Like many dating shows, the series takes place in a secluded location (an Italian countryside villa), with 10 contestants competing to find love. I Kissed a Boy’s hook is that potential pairs greet each other with a kiss before they ever speak. Throughout the series, host Dannii Minogue will preside over multiple Kiss-Offs in which couples will decide whether they want to stay with their current match or move on.
“No small talk. No messages. Just one kiss to test out their chemistry straight away,” the synopsis reads. “Will it be a polite peck? Or a passionate snog? And ultimately, will that first kiss lead to love?”
Of course, the more important distinction from other dating shows is that I Kissed a Boy consists solely of gay men. But the show’s creators have acknowledged that it’ll take much more than that to shake up the stale hetero-dating series formula.
“What we didn’t want to do was take a straight format and pump a gay cast through it,” David Brindley, chief creative officer for the show’s production company Twofour, told Variety. “We wanted to have something completely bespoke. There’s lots of moments in the show that you could only see with a gay cast.
“The most important thing to us was to make sure that it was able to be bespoke and unique for the people that were going to be taking part — and also that the audience recognized something very different in it.”
Their approach involved casting gay men from a broad range of backgrounds and experiences, representing various regions, nations, and featuring both urbanites and country boys. According to the synopsis, this eclectic mix results in “powerful untold stories – from coming out in a strict religious family, to the pressures of body image in the gay dating scene, to navigating self-acceptance, sex and first same-sex relationships.”
While there have been gay contestants included in predominantly straight dating shows, this is the first UK dating series focused exclusively on gay couples. “When you’ve only got one gay couple in a show where there are five other straight couples, those people represent what it’s like to be gay,” explained Bindley. “But when you’ve got 10, 12 lads, you get an incredibly broad spectrum of what it’s like and what people’s tastes and experiences are like.”
For UK viewers, I Kissed a Boy will be available to stream on May 13 through BBC iPlayer ahead of its next-day airing on BBC Three. For those of us in the states, Netflix will launch its first queer dating show, The Ultimatum: Queer Love, on May 24.