Singletown

TV review by
Joyce Slaton, Common Sense Media
Singletown TV Poster Image
Drinking, language on tart romantic reality show.

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this TV show.

Positive Messages

Singletown takes every opportunity to tease its contestants with the possibility of romance with someone new while throwing monkey wrenches in their existing relationships, which seems mean-spirited. The show occasionally justifies what it does ("putting love to the ultimate test") but playing with the emotions and lives of real people with an artificial setup is hard to justify. 

Positive Role Models

The same contestants hang around for the entirety of the show, so viewers get to know them somewhat. They're a mixed bag, personality-wise, but most seem genuinely interested in exploring their own romantic lives and possibilities. The cast includes LGBTQ+ contestants and contestants of color. 

Violence

The show has a mean-spirited tone and some contestants show sadness, insecurity, and jealousy.

Sex

The show is built around romance so expect lots of same- and opposite-sex coupling: flirting, kissing, dating, references to sex. Contestants are instructed to find dates and parties are thrown stocked with conventionally attractive single people to pick and choose from. Participants, especially women, wear tight and clingy clothes, and the camera lingers on body parts. 

Language

Language includes "f--k," "f--king," "hell," "s--t," as well as slang with an English flavor: "bum," (meaning "rear end") "dickhead." 

Consumerism

The show repeatedly displays the "multi-million pound" luxury apartments that contestants are housed in, showing us the views, and appointments. 

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking

Drinks flow freely on this show, where contestants use alcohol to quell nervousness. They drink at parties, at meals, at events. No one acts drunk but people do get more animated and flirtatious after drinking. 

What parents need to know

Parents need to know that Singletown is a reality show that splits up five couples, houses exes in neighboring apartments, and then orchestrates situations in which the newly single people date others. Mature content includes a central focus on love and romance, same- and opposite-sex flirting, dating, and kissing, and scenes in which people have emotional conversations and get jealous of new love interests. In fact, Singletown creates situations in which people are made to feel jealous, showing contestants pictures of the people their exes are being set up with, and directing participants to "accidentally" catch sight of their exes on dates. This feels mean-spirited and makes the action harder to watch. Though we don't know these people well, it's still hard to watch people crying and feeling insecure and jealous. Alcohol also plays a part in the proceedings, with contestants encouraged to drink, and then getting more animated and flirtatious as they do. Cursing includes "f--k," "f--king," "s--t," "damn," and "hell" as well as English-accented slang: "bum" (rear end), "dickhead." Contestants, especially female ones, dress in clingy, tight, and revealing clothes -- the camera lingers on body parts. There's also a lot of talk about being physically attractive; men and women are rated on their looks, called "hot" and "gorgeous" or pointedly not called anything at all. 

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What's the story?

In reality dating show SINGLETOWN, five couples agree to take a break from their relationship and spend five weeks in London dating other people. Hosted by EastEnders' Emily Atack and English comedian Joel Dommett, who help the fledgling singles meet new people and challenge them to go out on dates and connect with others, Singletown also raises the stakes by housing contestants in adjoining apartments. Each must live across the hall from their brand-new ex, invariably getting an up-close and personal view of the others' current romantic life. 

Is it any good?

Viewers' enjoyment of this reality show will largely depend on their tolerance for and appreciation of awkward flirtations and romantic heartbreak. Good cringe? Bad cringe? Singletown is at least well done, for this type of show. The contestants are attractive and come off as relatively genuine, the show is set in a particularly lovely corner of London, and there's pleasantly tart narration from an unseen commentator who takes the piss, to borrow a British expression, with contestants, their dates, and even the demi-celebrities directing the action.

At the same time, there's no evading the fact that Singletown is playing God with real people's real romantic lives (yes, they volunteered for the meddling, but still). It's not enough that the show sets up contestants in neighboring apartments with gigantic prints of their exes watching over them, it also takes pains to ignite jealousy, like in one scene where two participants are directed to wander past a brunch at which their exes are flirting with new love interests. Clearly, Singletown is an exercise in wish fulfillment for viewers who are themselves aching for a break from their humdrum relationships, so it'd be nice if the show stuck to watching participants enjoying their newfound freedom rather than orchestrating artificial situations that produce real pain. It just feels mean-spirited in a series that could be all guilty pleasure instead. 

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about the show’s messages, like the idea that "taking a break" will reveal if a romantic relationship is lasting love. What do dating shows like this suggest about relationships? Marriage? Can contestants really learn anything about themselves or their relationships in five weeks while being filmed? 

  • Families can also talk about the reasons people choose to appear on reality dating shows. Do they expect to find true love and build a lasting relationship? Or is it for exposure and money?

  • This show frequently mentions appearance, referring to "hot singles" and the like. Why is this important? Would anyone watch a show with average-looking or non-conventionally attractive people mingling and dating? What's the appeal of contestants who are in their teens or twenties and considered very attractive? 

TV details

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