CANNES – Television has been playing matchmaker for decades with hit series like “The Dating Game”, “Blind Date” and “Married at First Sight”.
Now it is taking couples straight to the divorce courts.
The next big trend in dating shows is uncoupling, according to analysts at MIPCOM, the world’s top entertainment trade show, held every year at Cannes on the French Riviera.
Having tried to salvage something from the wreckage in cathartic shows like “One Night with My Ex” from Britain’s Channel 5 earlier this year, producers are now going for the nuclear option.
Two new much-discussed French formats have a radical solution to marital discord — instant divorce.
Couples who take part in “The Break Up” and “Divorce for the Better” — clips of which were shown on Monday — have to agree to divorce, before what is left of their relationship is tested to see if it is worth saving.
Both shows urge the couples to embrace the single life again, sending them out on dates and throwing divorce parties for them.
The test is to see “if they can forget their marriage”, said Virginia Mouseler, a trends expert at The Wit, a media database.
– Love of a good woman –
In “The Break Up” couples must come together at the end of their trial separation to watch an excruciating “movie of their marriage” before deciding whether or not to tear up their divorce papers.
Those women who decide to go it alone could try their luck on another new show, “Bi the Way”, which posits that some might have been happier with another girl.
The show claims that “one out of four women under 25 is bisexual” and tests the theory by pairing contestants off with people they meet in blind chatroom sessions.
Even more radical is the new Danish show “Pregnant with a Stranger”, which liberates three single women looking for a man to have a baby with from the messy business of having to live with one.
Its producers brought together a team of psychologists and sociologists to help the women create a “new type of family”.
Few relationships have less of a chance of survival as celebrity ones, and a new British series plays on the idea that some of these starry love matches may have been only for the cameras.
ITV’s “Celebrity Showmance” puts highly unlikely celebrities together and challenges them to con social media users than their romance is for real.
– Sing like a donkey –
“The couple with the highest number of likes and comments wins,” Mouseler said.
The same company has come up with another much-hyped show to test couples called “Bromans”, where a group of modern himbos are transported back in time to a Roman gladiator school with their girlfriends.
However bad marriages can be, they surely have nothing on the horror of having to spend a weekend locked in the office with your least favourite colleagues.
That is the premise of the new American series “Inhuman Resources”, which is being billed as the first “corporate adventure show”, with workmates forced to bed down together and perform often humiliating tasks in the hope of building friendships and team spirit.
Talent shows, however, continue to have a stranglehold on television schedules, with Mouseler calling them “the king of genres at the moment”.
The new British series “Change Your Tune” turns the “Voice” format on its head by looking for contestants who sing like donkeys.
The winner of the show, which will air on ITV next year, is the one whose voice has improved the most after intensive coaching.
The BBC meanwhile has come up with a singalong show called “All Together Now” where the singer who gets the most people to join in wins.
But China’s CCTV is more concerned with the future of game shows rather than cosy traditions from the past. Its spectacular new format “AI Mission” pits the very best human athletes and brains against artificial intelligence.