Live for the Drama With These Scandalous Gay Dating Shows
Dating shows might be trash, but we’re a landfill, baby, and we love to get filled up. When it comes to queer media, they used to feed us scraps, but the feasts are coming in hot now, and they’re only getting hotter.
No matter your LGBTQ niche, you can tune in somewhere to find representation, and that’s worth celebrating. After all, we celebrate gay rights and gay wrongs. And with all these gay dating show options, we finally find ourselves in a position to weed out the actual trash from the tantalizingly trashy.
We want shows that make us scream, cry, laugh, cringe, and swoon — sometimes all at the same time — or else it’s just not worth our precious time. The recipe calls for:
- A dozen or so chaotic hotties
- One iconic host
- An absolutely unhinged premise
- A tireless, nosy-as-fuck camera crew that’s as dedicated to filming the tea as we are to lapping it up
- Sprinkle in a steady supply of alcohol and some expertly crafted, drama-inducing twists, and stir that pot on high until it boils over
If you’re looking for your next dating dumpster fire to binge, we’ve found the best reality TV shows to choose from.
The best queer-oriented dating shows
…And when we get tired of that, we can watch these dating shows, all featuring exclusively queer contestants in relationships that are anything but exclusive.
1. I Kissed A Boy / I Kissed A Girl
Thanks to the U.K. for wetting our willies with two consecutive gay dating shows à la Love Island — first with gay men and soon to be followed by a lesbian counterpart.
God save these queens; they wrangled Dannii Minogue out to Italy to confuse the globe about what a masseria is and — more importantly — to play cupid on a show where the contestants lock lips before they even exchange pleasantries.
Tune in for some of the steamiest gay kisses on television, including one poolside shower smooch that almost broke TikTok. The boys give us everything from sweet vulnerability to on-screen semis in a highly binge-able eight-episode package.
The only thing better than watching gorgeous men romance each other unabashedly on our small screens is watching them share the sort of love, affection, and friendship that is so beautifully unique to queer society. We’re not saying that the cure to male loneliness is fucking your friends, but the straighties should absolutely take notes from these boys on how to properly hug their male friends (and cuddle, and spoon, and… you get the point).
Watch on BBC Three in the U.K., or find episodes scattered about Dailymotion if you’re in the States (we won’t tell). Keep an eye out for I Kissed A Girl, too!
2. For The Love Of DILFs
She’s simple; she’s vapid; she’s giving “last two brain cells spinning into oblivion.” The himbos are here to meet the daddy of their dreams.
To kick things off, the himbos choose a pair of underwear and match up with the daddy who owns them. This ridiculous reality-adjacent romp is hosted by none other than — and we cannot stress this enough — Porn Goddess Supernova Stormy freaking Daniels!
Taking iconic to new heights (and new depths), For The Love Of DILFs is raunchy, senseless fun, but it’ll also surprise you with a few moments of deeply human beauty. What more could we ask for?
Watch on OutTV.
3. The Ultimatum: Queer Love
Does anyone else still get nervous sweats remembering this one? A handful of sweeties you can’t help but root for, a couple of chaos queens, and one true villain fill out the roster for this LGBTQ spinoff of The Ultimatum, making it one of the best gay dating shows on Netflix.
This stressful, chaotic, and surprisingly tear-jerking series features five couples made up of queer women and nonbinary babes with opposing desires around getting married. They temporarily split up, shuffle the deck, and jump into trial relationships with other contestants.
The season has it all — from Vanessa giving a masterclass in emotional manipulation to Aussie sharing heart-wrenching vulnerability in a journey to self-love arc that had us reaching for the tissue box.
Watch on Netflix.
4. Are You The One? (Season 8)
Distinct for its sexually fluid cast, Season 8 introduced us to some truly wonderful and impressively messy new reality stars. Using data from a complex compatibility algorithm that we wouldn’t mind getting our hands on, each of the 16 contestants has a “perfect match” somewhere among the cast.
If they can look beyond lust (spoiler alert, they can’t) and find their love match, they’re eligible to win up to a million dollars. The heavily pansexual cast presents a far more exciting dynamic — and a greater challenge since their perfect match could be any one of their castmates.
We could bitch until we’re blue about the exponentially smaller odds of winning the full prize for the queer cast versus the straight casts of other seasons, but one thing we won’t complain about is all the steamy nightly footage from inside the Boom Boom Room.
Watch on MTV.
5. Coming Out For Love
The first lesbian dating competition show for the U.S. centers on activist, influencer, and all-around babe Amber Whittington while 16 stunning queer women vie for her affection. Hosted by Mother (of all vampires) Jessica Clark, Coming Out For Love promises plenty of lesbian lust, love, and drama.
Literally — Amber’s best friend is one of the contestants, so it’s guaranteed to cover all of our favorite quintessential lesbian drama tropes.
6. Finding Prince Charming
They call this one “the gay Bachelor” because it follows an almost identical format, but they seem to have blown their already unsubstantial budget on getting Lance Bance to host. Frankly, seeing the gay pop icon of our ’90s kid dreams was one of the few highlights of this show, but it gets points for being early in the queer representation category.
It’s giving internalized homophobia, gays-are-just-like-straights energy. Still, they did one thing that the heteros could never do: sneak their stunner of a prince in with his suitors for the initial meeting, only to reveal that he was among them all along.
They prioritized palatability over creative vision, and it cost them a follow-up season, but the men are nice to look at, and we would watch paint dry if it meant supporting our true Prince Charming, Lance Bass.
Watch on Logo.
7. Boy Meets Boy
Adding to the gag (derogatory) category, Bravo took a leap in 2003 with a first-of-its-kind gay dating show that was formulaically similar to The Bachelor but with a maniacally homophobic twist.
Set in Palm Springs (obviously), James Getzlaff looked for love among 15 seemingly eligible bachelors, only to learn halfway through the season that not all of the men were gay. If he chose a gay man at the end, he would win $25,000.
But if he chose a straight man — who, mind you, had been deceiving him all along by “acting gay” — then the straight guy would win the money, leaving Getzlaff with nothing.
The premise may have exemplified toxic heterosexual fascination with gay culture, but it also kicked off a wave of gay stories in reality television at a time when representation was minimal, mostly de-sexualized, and chronically tragic. So, as usual, we were left drinking our poison with a polite smile.
Wanna gag again? The DVD is available to purchase on Amazon for way too much.
The best queer-inclusive dating shows
Not all of our trashy faves are committed to exclusively queer content. Here’s a nod to the shows that open their hearts up to inclusivity, whether it be a light sprinkle or a heavy pour.
1. Ex On The Beach
MTV has so often been at the forefront of cultural shifts. We love Ex On The Beach for its predictably unpredictable reality star drama as well as its inclusion of queer and trans cast members in all but their very first season.
Watch on Paramount+.
2. Bachelor In Paradise (Season 6)
AKA the season where the lesbians and bisexuals who had never once tuned into the franchise took a sudden interest. Demi Burnett and Kristian Haggerty tugged at our heartstrings and boldly pursued queer love in an otherwise overwhelmingly heterosexual environment.
Watch on Apple TV.
3. Love At First Lie
Who doesn’t love a love story built on deception? Some of the couples are real, and some are pretending. Each time a genuine pairing ousts a fake, their potential jackpot swells. But most importantly, with Tori Spelling hosting, we can think of at least 90,210 reasons to tune in.
Watch on MTV.
4. Dating Around
Netflix gives us a different format, with one single going on five blind dates and choosing one of those to take on a second date. Quick episodes make binging breezy, and you’ll find a fair amount of queer participants in the two available seasons.
Watch on Netflix.
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