‘The Bachelor’: Ten Other Dating Shows That Came Before And After The Huge Hit

ABC is currently in its 21st season of The Bachelor. While some Americans are biting their nails waiting and wondering who Nick Viall will pick to be his bride, others are still scratching their heads wondering why this show is so popular. The Bachelor wasn’t the first show of its kind of course, but it can be argued that it might be the most successful. Here are just ten other shows that had various degrees of success in the dating show genre:

The Dating Game

This was the daily game show that started it all. The Dating Game premiered on ABC on December 20, 1965 and continued on in popularity through 197. A revival series aired in syndication from 1978-1980 and another from 1996-2000. Jim Lange served as the show’s original host but the stars of the show were there single men and women looking to score a chaperoned trip/date. The show featured a male or female contestant seated on one side of a wall and three eligible bachelors or bachelorettes who sat on the other side of the wall. The contestant would ask silly questions to the three and after a short period of time, would have to decide on which they would like to go out on a date with. The show was enormously popular and many TV and movie celebrities appearing on the show (some before they were famous) including John Ritter, Teri Garr, Tom Selleck, Farrah Fawcett and Vyonne “Batgirl” Craig, featured below:

Love Connection

Hosted by Chuck Woolery, Love Connection was pretty much The Dating Game 2.0 for the video age. The show had two formats. In one case, a contestant was shown three video profiles of three eligible bachelors or bachelorettes and then choose one to go on a date with. The other format involved the television audience voting on who they thought the contestant should date. In both cases, the couple would go on a date and then report back on the show how it went to see if a “love connection” happened. The syndicated game show premiered in 1983 and detailed many dating disasters through 1994. The show was revised for one season from 1998-1999 with Pat Bullard serving as host.

Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire

One of the most notorious reality dating shows aired just once on February 15, 2000, on Fox. Hosted by Jay Thomas, Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire was set up like a beauty competition show where 50 women paraded on stage in front of millionaire Rick Rockwell. The two-hour special ended with Rockwell marrying “winner” Darva Conger live on television. After the couple’s honeymoon, Conger announced that the marriage was not consummated and the couple stayed in separate cabins on their honeymoon cruise. The marriage was officially annulled on April 5, 2000.

Joe Millionaire
Evan Marriott, left, of the FOX Television show "Joe Millionaire" speaks to members of the media as Paul Hogan, who played the butler on the show, looks on, Saturday, Jan. 17, 2003, in Los Angeles. The session was part of the Television Critics Association press tour. (AP Photo/Mark J. Terrill)

Joe Millionaire

In 2003, Fox created their own version of The Bachelor where bachelor Evan Marriott entertained a group of women pretending to be millionaire’s when in fact, he was actually a working-class construction worker. The show played out much like The Bachelor until the end when Marriott chose one woman, Zora Andrich, and then revealed to her that he wasn’t really rich in hopes that she would want to stay with him anyway. In the end, she did and the couple was rewarded with a million dollars as a prize. However, their relationship did not last and the couple split the money. The show had a second season with David Smith, but the show wasn’t as popular as the first.

Average Joe

Beginning in 2003, NBC began airing the mean-spirited dating show, Average Joe, where Melana Scantlin, an ex-beauty queen was tricked into thinking that she would be on a show similar to ABC’s The Bachelor, but instead of gorgeous hunks, she was surrounded by average-looking men. The show played out much like The Bachelor where Scantlin would choose which of the “Average Joes” would stay and which would go. Then, after a few weeks into the show, host Kathy Griffin introduced Scantlin to eight more men, only this time, all of the newbies were very good-looking. The show was supposed to see if looks really mattered or not. Apparently, they do since she choose one of the other eight. The show lasted for four seasons.

Beauty and the Geek
Alan “Scooter” Zackheim, top center, winner of the “Beauty and the Geek” reality show rides the Jaguar roller coaster at Knott's Berry Farm Sunday, March. 4, 2007 in Santa Ana. (AP Photo/Lisa Rose)

Beauty and the Geek

There have been many different versions of the show Beauty and the Geek that have aired all over the world. The American version was produced by Ashton Kutcher, Jason Goldberg, and Nick Santora and aired for fours season on The WB (which then changed over to The CW) from 2005-2008. The show paired “beauties,” women who relied on their looks with “geeks,” men who were super smart, but lacked social graces. By the fourth season, the roles were reversed with beautiful men paired with geeky girls.

Dating in the Dark

Dating in the Dark is another show that has aired all over the world beginning with Turkey, the United Kingdom, and the United States leading the pack. The U.S. version ran a short time from July 2009 through September 2010 on ABC. With this “experiment,” three men and three women would stay together in separate quarters of the same house and could not engage in conversation with the opposite sex unless doing so in a completely dark room.

Love in the Wild

This NBC show aired for two seasons on NBC from 2011-2012 with Darren McMullen hosting the first season and Jenny McCarthy hosting the second. The show was set in Costa Rica, the Dominican Republic and Hawaii and started with ten men and women who were paired into couples, competed on various challenges and then would spend the night together in a resort called the Oasis to “get to know each other better.” Then, the group would meet up the following day to choose new partners for the next challenge. The last remaining man and woman were eliminated from the show. The couple who made it to the end were given a trip around the world.

It Takes a Church

Christian singer Natalie Grant hosted a whole new type of dating show called It Takes a Church that ran on the Game Show Network from June 2014 to March 2015. Each episode featured a single, unsuspecting member of a church who was presented with potential mates chosen by the church’s congregation. The suitors who were not chosen were given free one-year memberships to the dating website Christian Mingle.


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Dating Naked

Now in its third season, Dating Naked appears on VH1. Hosted by Rocsi Diaz and shot on location in Bora Bora, each episode features two contestants, one man and one woman, who strip down to nothing and go on adventurous blind “dates” with other naked people. Then, each week, the contestants decide if they want to keep “dating” the person or chose to date whoever is next in line. Each season runs for 12 weeks. VHI likes to explain that the show is a “social experiment” that “explores the art of romance, free of preconceived notions, stereotypes – and clothes.”

[Featured Image by ABC]