The beautiful horror of Naked Attraction

Last night I drew the curtains, dimmed the lights, boarded up the windows and settled in to watch Channel 4’s long anticipated Naked Attraction.

Having previously failed to take on ITV’s Take Me Out with its own half-baked dating shows (Gok Wan’s Baggage springs to mind), Channel 4 has been upping the ante in a desperate bid to claw back viewers. Now, after months of format jigging, I think they might be onto a winner.

Naked Attraction is the ultimate blind dating show.

By stripping contestants down and staring exclusively at their wobbly bits, it carefully walks the line between educational television, reality TV show and future IS recruitment video.

The premise of the show is simple: Whittle down partners based purely on physical appearance, starting with their balls (be they traditional or lady balls) and then working up to the torso, face, and least importantly, personality.

Naked Attraction carefully walks the line between educational television, reality TV show and future IS recruitment video.

The first round is by far the strangest, with the colourful shield door slowly sliding up to reveal the inevitable genitalia. The result is reminiscent of the “bonus prize” reveal on The Price is Right, with the only difference being that rather than winning a holiday in the Cotswolds, all contestants can hope for is a face full of ripe mutton dagger.

Despite the inevitably of this process, somehow the show’s format still manages to build an air of intrigue and suspense. It’s a bit like staring through a peep hole into a slaughterhouse; like witnessing some terrible crime. With each round it grows increasingly difficult to turn away.

A big part of this tension has to be credited to the show’s suspenseful soundtrack and bizarre selection of coloured studio lights. Together these add to the surreal feeling of a day time quiz show, providing the uneasy sense that you’re about to be flashed by Richard Osman.

As the show progresses and the doors slide further, the headless flesh bags before us slowly transform into genuine human beings; beings with voices and faces and hearts and souls. As this metamorphosis takes place, we as voyeurs begin to learn a valuable lesson about the role of beauty – real beauty – in our everyday lives. We begin to realise that, yes, genitals are disgusting, but that actually, compared to the rest of our naked forms, they’re really not that bad. In actual fact, the rest of the human body is pretty fucking grim as well.

This is certainly the lesson that I will be taking out of the show – that as a rule, the average human form should never be unleashed upon the world. There’s a reason why civilised society invented clothes, and that reason is to cover up the bloated remains of our hairy sagging dignities.

Personally I’d like to think that I know this fact more than most. Sometimes I am unfortunate enough to catch a glimpse of my own pasty, swollen, semi-luminescent form. I watch as it emerges from the steam of the shower, like an alien visitor from the planet Sick, and I thank the world for the invention of textiles.

Luckily for those around me, my natural English obsession with personal shame makes me unlikely to flaunt my crumbling carcass on national television. Others however are less kind to the retinas of their fellow man, flaunting their unwelcome flaps, folds and foreskins upon a bewildered and unconsenting world.

And yet, despite such obvious violations of human decency and taste, there is something truly fascinating about the whole Naked Attraction experience.

At its heart, it is a deeply confused show, simultaneously begging audiences to judge its participants while still pushing the lie that we are all “beautiful” in our own way. The result is a bewildering mess, desperate to convince society that Channel 4 is offering up anything more than an opportunity to stare at tits and willys on a Monday night.

And yet, for all my revolted skepticism… I absolutely loved it.

I loved every awkward, hairy, wobbling minute of it.

Watching the hilarity and horror unfold on Twitter only added to the experience. It stirred up that unique feeling of a truly shared spectacle, similar to that of a royal wedding or an international terrorist attack.

Naked Attraction is a national institution in the making. An institution built upon aubergine emojis and cocktail sausage gifs. It’s an opportunity for a divided Britain to come together in joy, confusion and grief.

Quite frankly, it’s TV gold.

Alex Warren
Alex Warren
Miserablist, whiskey-drinker, and general tinpot shambles. Alex Warren has a weary pessimism for all things media, politics and tech.