The world of reality TV has seen it all by this stage. Well, nearly all… Tootlafrance has a quick sconce at a dating show where participants must bare all to find true love
This is a series that has been attracting plenty of curious glances on France’s D8 channel. In the programme, candidates are taken to an idyllic island paradise somewhere in French Polynesia. They meet up and see how they get on with one another. But the main prerequisite is that all of them are naked.
Since “Adam Recherche Eve” (Adam looking for Eve) kicked off on the 4th of March, the weekly show has generated plenty of debate about the audacity of the entire concept, the beauty of the location, the relatively low pay that people have allegedly been receiving to participate (€139 for 3 days of shooting according to one source) and the wonder if this is just another trash TV show or something more profound.
People tuning into the programme at the prime-time hour of 20:50 might be forgiven that they had just been given x-ray specs. It was a bold move putting out a programme at such a time of the evening, recording young men and women flirting on a Polynesian atoll in their birthday suits.
D8 is part of the Canal+ stable – a television company known for not flinching when it comes to doing the controversial (they still put out pornographic films every Sunday night), but “Adam Recherce Eve” seems to have broken a new taboo.
In all, about 30 candidates participate in a flirting game before the cameras on the island of Tikehau. Across an opening shot of this South Pacific paradise is the philosophical quotation from Mark Twain: “Twenty years from now, you will be more disappointed by the things that you didn’t do than by those you did do.”
Cue the entry of a young blonde-haired lady in an outrigger canoe. Her recorded voice-over does the introductions while she stands up and begins to strip off: 28-year-old Lina from Toulouse reveals to us that the biggest challenge will be to appear without make-up and hopes to find a man who will simply love her for who she is – nothing more and nothing less. As she removes the final bottom part of her bikini, she tells us that she is not happy with her own body. With that, she plunges into the turquoise waters and swims the short distance ashore, her mini kit-bag strategically placed in front of her as she emerges from the water and walks across the sand.
Next, Adam (27-year-old Antony) duly arrives in his outrigger, gives us the spiel on who he is and what he hopes for from this experience, before getting naked and swimming ashore to the specially-prepared semi-outdoor lodgings (with bar/restaurant), where the two will get to know each other over the next 3 days.
It’s compelling stuff – watching two people who don’t know each other and who meet on a tropical paradise completely naked. But is it just more titillation on TV or something more profound?
The most interesting moment is when the two protagonists walk along the sandy atoll, meet for the first time with double kisses on the cheek style français and a nervous laugh, trying hard to look each other in the eyes.
Xavier Gandon of D8 defends the show, saying that its ultimate selling point is that “idealised meeting of two people devoid of all social conventions linked to clothing and make-up.”
Antrhopologist Jean-Didier Urbain was less complimentary when asked for his opinion on this bold televised experiment: “We never met in the buff! There’s nothing natural about it: As soon as man could hide his sexual organ, he did it.”
In the actual programme, breasts and bums appear clear as day, but the sexual organs are blurred out:
“The idea is not to provoke,” says Gandon. “We tried to make the people as beautiful as possible by filming them in the best light. And we’re not about trying to make a naturist programme either.”
It remains to be seen, however, if the fig leaf of the blurred effect will allow D8 to get audiences in other countries where full frontal nudity is more the norm – such as in Holland. The television authority in France works on the basis of commenting on programmes after the event and there is no specific law regarding nudity.
Below: a 9-minute taster of Episode 1: