Love in the Wild: Melting Hearts, Rotting Brains

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Ah, summer, you magnificent beast—only you could gift us with television as dumb as Love in the Wild. A new NBC series that blends every 2000-era reality show into one deliciously stupid smoothie, LitW drops 20 camera-ready singles into a Costa Rican jungle setting, throws some lazily conceived challenges at them, then lets the cameras roll as they swap partners and spit until only two remain. Watching it will destroy more brain cells than huffing paint remover—but what the hell, it’s summer! Do you have something better to do?

Wednesday's premiere began with two small planes—one filled with men, the other women—soaring over a tropical locale. (Thankfully, both planes landed safely, and we didn’t have to sit through the hastily re-conceived premiere of NBC’s All-Girl Pillow Fight Island.) Meanwhile, we got to meet the contestants, who amazingly enough have all had terrible luck in the relationship department. Surely, this will be the time when they finally meet the person of their dreams. Is there any more organic way to let a relationship bloom than on national TV, scrambling against the clock to locate the specially-marked coconuts that will earn you after-hours jacuzzi privileges? I think not. Let love bloom.

The games began with each girl choosing one guy with whom she would pair up on the first day’s challenges. The stakes were unbelievably high: a trip around the world for the last standing couple. (Okay, so not that high.) Samantha, a wedding planner, told us that she “hasn’t traveled. Ever. A trip around the world with someone amazing would literally be a dream come true.” Literally! Not a figurative dream come true. She literally dreamed about traveling around the world with someone amazing. And now it could come true! (Also—she’s a wedding planner, yet she’s never traveled anywhere? Ever? Not even to Paris? Then I don’t want her anywhere my special day, thank you very much. I want my Eiffel Tower-shaped chocolate fountain to be an exact replica. That would literally be a dream come true.)

Whoever the girls picked to partner with, the host explained, would also be their bunking partner that night, which earned squeals of embarrassment. “Oh my god! They’re making us sleep in close proximity to one another? I never saw that coming when I signed up for this reality show about hooking up in the jungle!” The women then went man shopping, during which they picked their partners for only the most substantial reasons, like who they most want to have sex with and which skin tones go best with their boots.

It was only five minutes in when we got the first reference to a “biological clock”—that came from Vanessa, a 26-year-old law student who requires her potential mates to be "hot, funny, good personality, and hot," in that order. (Oy. Someone get Patti Stanger on this case, stat. Tick-tock! We’re running out of time!) Vanessa chose Steele, a pro-golfer from Arizzzzzzz...What? Who? Huh? Yes, I’m still awake! Miles, meanwhile, is a “client service manager” who said something about worrying he’ll be picked last, even though he has lived his life being inordinately attractive and knows perfectly well he won’t be picked last. Erica snatched that hunky cup of man-pudding right up and dove in with her ladyspoon. (Ew. Sorry.)

Good ol’, world-unwise Samantha gravitated right over to real estate brokering Mike (who totally looks like a Mike! Am I right? Such a Mike), and you could just feel the romantic microwaves radiating off of them. You could totally heat up a plastic cup of tomato soup with these guys’ sexual chemistry! Okay, whatever, you get the point. Everyone chose someone, until only two men were left standing: the Black One and Neanderthal Dude. The Black One’s name is actually Jason, and he’s an opera singer with an awesome scar on his head. So he’s kind of like The Phantom! He got picked, which left the Neanderthal One, aka Peter, for Theresa. She went on for some length about how much Peter isn’t her type. Poor Neanderthal Dude.

Hey, wait a second—who’s that guy? Pencil Beard, I’ll call him. Why didn't they give Pencil Beard any screen time? What’s wrong with Pencil Beard?! Actually, it was pretty obvious that Pencil Beard doesn’t really have “star quality” and was probably a desperate, last-minute addition whom producers consider low-hanging fruit, like a redshirt on Star Trek. Funnily enough—he was wearing a pink shirt! Which is in the red family! It’s all making sense now!

So, somehow this has turned into a full-fledged recap, but since I’m the only person in America who watched this thing, I won’t waste your time. Rest assured, some couples liked each other (okay, just one—Samantha and Mike, looking to be early favorites for winning that big trip!), and many, many more did not. There was a whole lot of partner-swapping going on at the Getting Laid Tribunal! In the end, Steele totally faked out Dawn, who we were led to believe he was falling for, and instead stuck with Biological Clock Lady, who got all weird and possessive with him really quickly, as if he were some expensive handbag she’d just purchased. (But Steele isn’t just a handbag. He has awesome abs and golfs for a living.) So sorry, Dawn. You’re going home, as is your partner, what’s-his-face. That’s the law of the wild, kids.

Did you watch Love in the Wild? Were you as simultaneously bored and horrifyingly entertained as I was? Tell us what you think!

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