There are a few signs that summer has ended: The local kids are back in school. The air gets cooler and crisper. And the contestants on Dating Naked make their final choices, put their clothes back on, and go home. But then what? Are the rest of us left to watch nothing but clothes-on reality dating competitions for the rest of our lives? After VH1 presents the season finale of the show on Sept. 16, will Dating Naked return?
Rejoice, all you nudists out there! VH1 has renewed Dating Naked for a third season, as reported by Deadline. The bad news: It hasn't said exactly when the show will return. In fact, the show has just started casting for its new season — follow the link if you're brave enough to bare all your (blurred) assets on TV. Yet even though it's just beginning the Season 3 journey, it's a good bet the show will come back in Summer 2016, since both the first and second season aired over the summer and did well. Plus, by then the cast will have had enough time to get ready for their big TV debut. (Besides, who wants to watch naked people in a tropical paradise in winter? I'd be too jealous from under the blankets on my NYC couch.)
This season, which earned the nickname "Playing for Keeps," Dating Naked switched up its format to follow one guy and one girl for an entire season, instead of new, random couples each time. Each week, the main contestants got to designate a "keeper" to stick around on the island for another week while they continued to go on dates with new people. The changes mostly worked, but I still think the show can be improved even more when it returns for Season 3. Here's how.
Don't Stack The Deck For The Main Contestants
The finale of Dating Naked hasn't aired yet, but my intuition tells me that, when it's time to make their final decisions, main contestants Kerri and Chris are just going to choose each other. It might not be because they're the best matches for each other, either; they've just made a deeper connection because they've gotten to know each other over the course of a few weeks, as opposed to just bonding over one short date. Even the keepers don't ever get to be alone with the main contestants again after their first dates.
The show should even the odds a little next time, either by letting the main contestants go on more dates with their keepers (so bonding time isn't just in the house, when everyone is together, drunk, and crazy), or by separating the main couple more (perhaps having them stay in two separate houses while they're having their dates). Then again, the house is where all the good drama happens, so the show should make sure to preserve its drunken pool time.
Make The Dates Better
Doesn't it seem like one couple gets to blow the entire week's dating budget on one date — something awesome like scuba diving with only helmets — while the other couples have to do something lame (and free) like bird-watching or shell-collecting? Of course, you're going to like one person more if your date activity is more exhilarating.
Maybe they should get date sponsors—for example, a car company can set them up with jet skis or something. Usually, I'm not arguing in favor of product placement, but I'd do anything not to have to sit through a contestant's stand-up comedy again.
Add Some Kind Of Competitive Element
I think this might solve my first two problems. If there's some kind of fun mini-challenge and reward the main contestants have to do with their keepers, the keepers might gain an edge. For example, one of the dates this year involved shooting watermelons and pineapples with a bow and arrow. What if each main contestant and their keeper had to compete to see who could shoot more fruit in a minute, with a prize on the line like an ultra-romantic night in a super-swanky luxury room?
The competition would bring the main contestants closer together with their keepers (and show them if they can work together as a team), plus give the winners the alone time that the keepers never seem to get.
Find Better Male Contestants
Doesn't it seem like the girls who go on the show are all generally interesting human beings (though some clearly have dating issues), and the guys are all out-of-their-mind crazy? I feel bad for poor Kerri — I think she's stuck on Chris because she's gotten half as many semi-normal guys as he's gotten girls. I don't know how they choose the dudes for the show, but please, please raise the bar for Season 3 — right now, it's like the worst of Tinder on there.
Give Poor Amy Paffrath Something to Do
As host, Paffrath used to have to explain the rules to the contestants each time. Now, she just has to show up at the end and ask who the keepers will be. She had to travel halfway around the world for that? When the dates get boring, I start to wonder what she does for most of the week.
I think she should be more like Tim Gunn, popping up to ask how the dates are going and giving advice to the main contestant (who clearly need to have a sounding board for their big, end-of-week decisions). I'd love to see her stare a naked guy in the face and just say, "Make it work!"
Cut Out The Getting Undressed Montages
We get it. They're naked. We don't need to see how it happens every time — it's not that big of a mystery. But, just in case the show doesn't take my advice, the next Dating Naked contestants should take note: Bring a lot of cute underwear, because even though you might not think they'll show it onscreen, they always do.
Images: VH1 (7)