The dating show world has become dangerously overcrowded. Keen to cash in on the global success of Love Island, producers have taken what was once a pure(ish) form of entertainment and injected a huge dose of lunacy, from the animal cosplay in Sexy Beasts to absolutely everything about Love Is Blind.
Channel 4’s new show Five Guys A Week is no different. It is well and truly out of its tree. The concept is this: Each week a woman invites five potential suitors to come and stay in her house as her live-in boyfriends. Over the course of the week, she 'dates' all of them, sending one home every day until there’s only one left who, presumably, just stays living there, hopefully graduating from spare to master bedroom at some point in the near future.
The men have an impressive variety of jobs. There is Trystan, a surfing coach with a mid '00s Jack Wills haircut, and Christian, a banker who solves financial crimes. There is a stuntman, a country music singer and Glen, who works in local government. Glen is not altogether secure about the ratio of normal to exciting jobs among the group and, along with the subject of his ex-wife, mentions it a lot. "I haven’t dated since before Justin Bieber was born," he says mournfully into a glass of red wine.
Trystan quickly proves that it’s not just his hair that’s stuck in the past. "Mate, the hotter they are, the crazier they are," he banters to the rest of the group, and is rewarded with a hearty chuckle. "Yeah it’s the hot/crazy matrix," says another, oblivious to the fact that they are the ones who booked five days of annual leave to sleep on an air mattress in a random woman’s living room in the hope of getting a shag. "It’s scientific."
Setting the show in a real-life home gives the whole thing a Come Dine With Me vibe. It’s so far from the glamour and expensive production of shows like The Bachelor and Love Is Blind that it’s really, really hard to get caught up emotionally. It is basic, but effective, British filler television. It is Four In A Bed. It is Homes Under The Hammer. Watching the country music singer (who recently quit his job as a bank branch manager) make out with Amy to the sound of Sean Paul in the (very) local nightclub, you realise that no one is saying "I love you" on day three of this show. You realise that no matter how much the banker's coat cost (£1,100), nothing will be able to distract from the fact that his cologne is pineapple-scented. "It’s the smell of masculine, do y'know what I mean?"
While this episode is a bit meh (Amy's eventual choice of man is even more bananas than the show's concept), one of the future episodes looks worth tuning in for. Episode five features Susan, a 68-year-old who’s looking for a man with whom to ring in her 69th year. Not only is Susan a boomer (hello, house big enough to host five adult men), it’s nice to see a dating show that doesn't just feature lithe 22-year-olds moaning about how their friends are all settled and their mum's having a go at them about grandchildren. As everyone who's ever watched First Dates knows, the older daters are always far more entertaining.
So, Five Guys A Week, do we need it? Absolutely not. Will I watch it all? Almost certainly.
Five Guys A Week kicks off on 10th March at 9.15pm on Channel 4.