17 Forgotten Dating Shows

It has now been 20 years since the premiere of Singled Out, MTV's popular dating show featuring Chris Hardwick and Jenny McCarthy (then Chris Hardwick and Carmen Electra). Though, compared to 1995, it has never been easier to meet someone—at least technically speaking—dating will always be a messy art that makes everybody look like their dumbest selves. Which is why dating “reality” shows have continued to evolve and devolve through the years.

Though there have been many memorable dating shows, like current hits The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, far more romance-minded series have been left to die alone, never finding love with audiences. Here are 17 of the latter.

1. MATCHMAKER (1987-1988)

Popular Los Angeles DJ Dave Hull hosted the syndicated game show, and held most of the power. Without looking at them, Hull gradually eliminated three of the six contestants based on the answers to his questions. Then Hull would choose between the two men or women left for the “romantic lead” he had designated earlier. The new couple’s compatibility was then determined based on a list of likes and dislikes they listed before the show. The more their answers matched, the more expensive their grand prize of a trip would be.

2. STUDS (1991-1993)

Averaging three million viewers a night, Studs was a brief phenomenon when it was syndicated on Fox affiliates. Two male contestants went on one-on-one dates with each of the three female contestants before taping. On the show, each man would try to guess which female contestant said one of the three answers (almost always a double entendre) to host Mark DeCarlo’s questions about the date. In the end, if the men could guess which woman chose him as the “stud” over the other, they won another date. The sexually suggestive talk from the women was scripted, and some male contestants were upset that the show made it seem like sex was had on every date, when that wasn’t the case.

3. PERSONALS (1991-1992)

The host of this late night CBS dating show was Michael Berger, described as “part Pat Sajak, part Howard Stern.” Some of the contestants were people who had written personal ads in Los Angeles newspapers. Three men or women competed to best guess the answers the main contestant went with in the same dual-choice questions they were given. In the bonus round known as the “Love Thermometer,” the new couple would face off against the previous show’s couple to win a romantic trip.

4. NIGHT GAMES (1991-1992)

Night Games was the first of two CBS late-night companion shows to Personals hosted by comedian Jeff Marder. Three male and female contestants answered questions in “Honesty” and “Sensuality” rounds. It was considered a rip-off of the raunchy Studs before it was even screened by critics.

5. A PERFECT SCORE (1992)

A Perfect Score was the second of Marder's late-night shows. In this one (which replaced Night Games), three close friends of one contestant attempted to find their friend the ideal date by questioning three candidates. Despite the producers' promise that it wasn’t scripted, some of the 110 CBS affiliates that ran the show put it on at 2 a.m. or later, which was hardly an ideal timeslot. Unsurprisingly, A Perfect Score didn’t last.

6. STREET MATCH (1993)

Airing on ABC in the summer of 1993 after repeats of The Wonder Years, soap opera star Ricky Paull Goldin “made Chuck Woolery look like a class act” as he sought out men and women on the street and asked them to participate on the show. If they agreed, the contestant pointed out an attractive stranger on the street and Goldin would go to work on setting the two of them up. If the second stranger agreed, the two would go on a date, which would be shot and edited in the newly discovered MTV Real World Dutch angle, jump cut way.

7. BZZZ! (1996-1997)

Annie Wood hosted the show where two sets of contestants considered four possible dates. Three of the four dates got “bzzzed” if they gave a “wrong” answer to one of the contestants' questions. The two potential date groups then faced off in a “simpatico” round for a “dream date” package.

8. THE BLAME GAME (1998-2001)

“Judge” Chris Reed would listen to two former lovers and decide who was to blame for their break-up, with help from “counselors” Jason Winer (an executive producer on Modern Family and creator of 1600 Penn) and Kara Jane McNamara. The studio audience would determine who was the guilty party after each round. Final arguments featured the litigants karaokeing to contemporary hits (the show aired on MTV). The person voted not to be the one at fault won a vacation, while the loser had his or her picture added to the “Do Not Date This Blame Game Loser” section of the show’s website and/or, for a time, in a section of Entertainment Weekly, unless he or she made a convincing apology to the winner.

9. CHAINS OF LOVE (2001)

This Madison Michelle-hosted show that made Temptation Island look like Washington Week in Review" lasted just six episodes on UPN. Four men or women were chained to one member of the opposite sex, and each day one of the suitors would be released and given whatever amount of the $10,000 the star of the episode decided to hand over. After four days, the star could decide to split the leftover money with the contestant left standing and see him or her again, or pocket all the cash. If the previously chained contestant didn’t develop Stockholm Syndrome, he or she had the option of walking away with all of the cash.

10. RENDEZ-VIEW (2001-2002)

Co-hosted by Greg Proops and Ellen Ladowsky, this syndicated show featured two guests per episode—usually an actor and a comedian—who would watch a videotaped date along with the hosts and humorously critique them.

11. SHIPMATES (2001-2003)

Shipmates is the other Chris Hardwick-hosted dating show. Participants went on a blind date on a Carnival Cruise ship for three days. Hardwick claimed that he turned the show down six times before agreeing to host, under the condition that he be allowed to write his own material.

12. THE 5TH WHEEL (2001-2004)

Aisha Tyler hosted the first season of the syndicated series before leaving to take more movie offers, and to guest star on Friends in its final two seasons. On the show, two men and two women went on a group date before a fifth man or woman would entertainingly complicate matters.

13. TAILDATERS (2002-2003)

The MTV show had the best friends of two daters follow the date from a van, providing commentary and at times “paging” advice to their buds.

14. MR. PERSONALITY (2003)

Running for five episodes in 2003 on Fox, host Monica Lewinsky helped contestant Hayley Arp find love with one of 20 suitors, all of whom wore masks the entire time. The one allowed exception was in the “Dark Room,” where Arp was able to touch a contestant’s face.

15. MARRIED BY AMERICA (2003)

Hosted by Los Angeles DJ Sean Valentine, Married By America was a six-episode series, also on Fox in 2003. Five single people agreed to get engaged to total strangers chosen by the viewing audience. Gradually relationship experts eliminated three of the couples, and the two “winning” couples decided to not get married after all. Fox’s Raleigh-Durham affiliate refused to air the series after its premiere, stating that it “demeans and exploits the institution of marriage.”

16. THE LITTLEST GROOM (2004)

In two episodes that ran on Fox in 2004, a 4’5” bachelor chose between a group of women of similar height, before the twist of adding 12 “average” sized female contestants to the contest really shook things up (“an average sized twist,” the voiceover intoned). Salesman Glen Foster chose 4’3” Mina Winkler, and said he didn’t feel exploited.

17. SCORE (2005)

In a four-week run, singer-songwriter Ashlee Simpson ex Ryan Cabrera hosted Score on MTV. Cabrera’s band and guest stars mentored two contestants and helped them each write a song to win the heart of a “hottie.” The winner was whomever said hottie decided wrote and performed the better song.

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15 Clever Breaking Bad Easter Eggs Hiding in Better Call Saul
Ben Leuner, AMC
Ben Leuner, AMC

As evidenced by Breaking Bad, Vince Gilligan and his cohorts have an eye for detail that’s nearly unrivaled. If anything, Better Call Saul—which is set several years before Breaking Bad—only proves the point. The series, soon beginning its fourth season, focuses on Jimmy McGill (soon to become Saul Goodman) and is full of references to its progenitor, some of which are pure fun, and some of which add a deeper meaning to what we already know. Here are 15 clever Breaking Bad Easter eggs hiding in Better Call Saul.

(Warning: Plenty of spoilers ahead for both series.)

1. BEING KEVIN COSTNER

In a throwaway moment in Breaking Bad, Saul mentions to Walt that he once convinced a woman he was Kevin Costner (“If you’re committed enough, you can make any story work”), and in the finale of the first season of Better Call Saul, we see the exact moment he was referring to. In case we thought that Saul was just making the story up for the sake of a pep talk, here’s the proof otherwise.

2. NEIGHBORHOOD MAINSTAY

If the diner where Jimmy first meets with the Kettlemans looked familiar to you, it’s for good reason. Loyola’s Diner featured in Breaking Bad as a mainstay of Mike’s—he met with Jesse there, as well as Lydia. It’s also, incidentally, a very real restaurant in Albuquerque. And while we’re on the subject of Mike and food, he’s been shown to be fond of pimento cheese sandwiches in both series.

3. ADDRESS UNKNOWN

David Costabile as Gale Boetticher in 'Breaking Bad'
Ursula Coyote, AMC

In Better Call Saul, it’s shown that Jimmy's office is at 160 Juan Tabo Boulevard (which is a real nail salon). Those of you with a head for directions might recall that that’s the same street that the ill-fated chemist Gale Boetticher lives on, at 6353 Juan Tabo Boulevard. Given how many Breaking Bad characters have shown up on the show so far, here’s hoping that we get a glimpse of the karaoke-loving chemist before the show ends.

4. A ROSE BY ANY OTHER NAME

When he’s kidnapped by Walt and Jesse after refusing to help a busted Badger, Saul spits out a variety of nonsense in an attempt to stay alive. He also drops a name: Ignacio. So who is he talking about? As we learn in Better Call Saul, this refers to Nacho, who’s become one of the secondary leads on the show. “Nacho” is a nickname, short for Ignacio, which makes sense as a connection given how closely he’s been working with Jimmy/Saul.

5. CHEAP TRICKS

Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in 'Better Call Saul'
Michele K. Short, AMC/Sony Pictures

There’s another callback to the first time that Walt, Jesse, and Saul meet. Despite still having his hands tied behind his back, when Saul agrees to help Walt and Jesse, he tells them to each put a dollar in his pocket in order to secure attorney-client privilege. It seems that Saul got that idea from Kim, who, when she decides to help Jimmy after discovering he’s falsified evidence, tells him to give her a dollar for exactly the same reason.

6. OLD AFFLICTIONS

In yet another reference to that fateful first meeting, we learn that Saul isn’t bluffing when he tells Walt and Jesse that he has bad knees. He says the same thing when cops apprehend him in the first season of Better Call Saul. As to why he’s got bad knees to begin with, it all comes from his time as “Slippin’ Jimmy,” when he used to stage falls in order to earn a little bit of money.

7. CAR TALK

Bryan Cranston and Aaron Paul in 'Breaking Bad'
Ursula Coyote, AMC

Saul Goodman drives a white 1997 Cadillac DeVille with the vanity plate “LWYRUP.” Jimmy McGill’s ride is much more modest: a yellow Suzuki Esteem with a red door. That said, in the pilot of Better Call Saul, we very briefly see a white Cadillac DeVille—Jimmy parks his car next to it, in a truly blink-and-you-miss-it allusion to what’s to come. (Gus, notably, is driving the same navy blue Volvo in both shows.)

8. HOME SWEET HOME

One of the retirement homes that Jimmy visits in his quest to drum up business is Casa Tranquila. Though it doesn’t feature too heavily in Better Call Saul, it’s a key location in Breaking Bad as the home of Hector Salamanca, and the place where he kills his longtime nemesis Gus Fring. It’s a nice touch to revisit the location, especially given the fact that Better Call Saul gives us the story as to how Hector wound up in a wheelchair in the first place.

9. WHAT’S YOUR POISON?

There’s also a nice bit of brand continuity with the made-up tequila Zafiro Añejo. Gus poisons a bottle to get back at Don Eladio in Breaking Bad, and we see the same blue bottle pop up in Better Call Saul when Jimmy and Kim scam a cocky lawyer named Ken. Ken, for his part, seems to be reaping a constant stream of bad karma, as he’s also in Breaking Bad as a victim of Heisenberg’s wrath. He swipes Walt’s parking spot—and has his car set on fire for his trouble.

10. THIS LITTLE PIGGY

Though Mike is hard as nails, he’s got a soft spot the size of Texas for his granddaughter Kaylee. He gifts her a pink pig plush in Better Call Saul, which crops up again in Breaking Bad under slightly less cute circumstances. He uses the doll as a distraction when an assassination attempt is made on his life.

11. WORD GAMES

Giancarlo Esposito as Gus Fring in 'Breaking Bad'
Ursula Coyote, AMC

The first letters of the episode titles of the second season of Better Call Saul are an anagram for “FRING’S BACK.” It’s a granular sort of trick that the creators have pulled off before: four of the episodes of season two of Breaking Bad spell out “Seven Thirty-Seven Down Over ABQ.” In the season finale, a 737 plane does indeed go down over Albuquerque, or ABQ.

12. SENTIMENTAL VALUE

Given that Saul’s Breaking Bad office has a lot of strange objects in it, it’d be easy to miss the octagonal desk. As it turns out, the offices of Saul Goodman aren’t the desk’s first home: it’s seen in the background of Kim’s office in Better Call Saul. It’s retroactive, sure, but it’s still nice to know that Saul has some mementos around.

13. MOVIE NIGHT

Bob Odenkirk and Rhea Seehorn in 'Better Call Saul'
Ursula Coyote, AMC/Sony Pictures Television

There’s also a little sentimental value in the name of Saul’s holding company, Ice Station Zebra Associates, which he uses to help Walt launder money in Breaking Bad. As we discover in Better Call Saul, Ice Station Zebra is Kim’s favorite movie, due to her father’s affection for it. Though Kim is physically absent from Breaking Bad, small details seem to tie back to her all the time.

14. SET DRESSING

Krazy-8, may he rest in peace, also shows up in Better Call Saul. The van that he drives has the logo for Tampico Furniture on it, and he’s wearing a uniform with the logo as well. Tampico is where Walt, as he recalls in Breaking Bad, bought Walter Jr.’s crib. Unfortunately, those fond memories aren’t quite enough to save Krazy-8’s skin.

15. BEWARE OF BUGS

Before Mike leaves Philly for Albuquerque, a bartender tells him to be mindful of tarantulas. The spider plays a key role in Breaking Bad later on, as a young boy’s pursuit of the bug puts him in Walt’s path—and Todd’s path, by proxy. Determined to make a good impression on Walt, and knowing that there can’t be any witnesses to what they’re doing, Todd shoots the boy in one of the most shocking and cold-blooded moments in the entire series.

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A New Stranger Things Video Game Is in the Works
Netflix
Netflix

The world of Stranger Things is ready to get the proper video game treatment. TechRadar exclusively revealed that the hit sci-fi series from Netflix will be coming to consoles, courtesy of Telltale Games. Though details are scarce, this seems to be the beginning of a working relationship between the two companies as it was also announced that Telltale’s popular Minecraft: Story Mode game will soon be brought to Netflix as a “5-episode interactive narrative series,” according to the site.

Though Minecraft will be experienced through Netflix itself, the Stranger Things game will be a traditional console/computer release. If you’re unfamiliar with Telltale, its brand of games tends to favor a branching narrative experience that emphasizes player choice over button mashing. These point-and-click adventures usually don’t have a standard release schedule, either; instead, they’re split up into parts and distributed episodically for download. The games are usually released on consoles, including the Nintendo Switch, as well as PC, Android, and iOS.

While the highlight of Telltale’s work is widely considered to be its Walking Dead adaptations, they’ve also found success with other blockbuster franchises like Game of Thrones, Guardians of the Galaxy, and its latest effort, Batman: The Enemy Within. There’s no word on whether or not the Stranger Things cast will be involved in the game, or if it will follow the established Telltale formula. In a statement to TechRadar, a spokesperson for the developer said, “we're excited to reveal details on these projects later in the year.”

This might not be the end of Netflix’s foray into the video game world. While the company has no plans to enter the market itself, TechRadar did find a job listing at Netflix for a Manager of Interactive Licensing who will "use games as a marketing tactic to capture demand and delight our member community (ex: Stranger Things: The Game)." May your dreams of a Narcos economic simulator game be realized.

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