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11 moments from Playing It Straight which prove reality TV peaked in the noughties

The drama was unmatched.

PLAYING IT STRAIGHT wouldn’t make it past the boardroom in today’s world.


The premise of the reality show is problematic to say the least - one woman spent time on a ranch with a group of men in an attempt to discern which of them were gay and which of them were straight. All of the gay men pretended to be straight. The woman went on individual dates with the men, in addition to engaging in group activities with them. Over the course of the episodes, she voted to eliminate the men she believed to be gay.

At the end of the show, the woman had to choose one man. If he was straight, the man and woman would split the prize money, but if he was gay, then he would receive all the money and the woman would receive nothing.

The Dutch version literally translates directly as ‘Find The Gay One’.

Listen, encouraging stereotypes forced on LGBTQ+ people is not cool. The show’s argument that it “represented every modern girl’s dating dilemma” simply isn’t true (getting “tricked” into dating someone of an opposing sexual orientation does not happen in real life.).

The drama though? Unparalleled, to be honest.

1. Actually, let’s start with the fact that it’s intro was beyond parody.

The theme tune went:

Here’s the tale of 10 strong cowboys,Rugged, handsome and well dressed,

Said, ‘We’re here to woo Miss Zoe

We’re prepared for any test.’

They came into El Rancho Macho,

Our Senorita didn’t know,

Some were straight and some were not so,

A game of love in Mexico.”

They really committed to that Mexican theme, for sure. Wonder if El Rancho Macho is an Airbnb now.

2. Alan Cumming was the original Iain Stirling.

Cumming was on hand to deliver his signature dry look on things.

Source: Channel 4

Moral of the story – all future reality show narrators are required to be Scottish.

CAN: 'Battle of the Sexes' Premiere - TIFF2017 Source: SIPA USA/PA Images

3. These were the lads’ reactions to finding out that not all of them were straight.

lads Source: Channel 4

lads2 Source: Channel 4

Gay people? On television?! Laughable, apparently.

4. The show came with some handy disclaimers.

Source: Channel 4

5. God grant me the confidence of a straight man.

johnny Source: Channel 4

johnny2 Source: Channel 4

johnny3 Source: Channel 4

6. The challenges were outrageous.

In the second episode, the lads were literally put in to a pen and corralled. What this tested exactly, no one can say for sure.

coral Source: Channel 4

And you thought the mean tweets on Love Island were vicious!

7. When the lads won individual dates, the others had to STAND ON AND WATCH.

date Source: Channel 4

cowboys Source: Channel 4

8. The producers made them fight over clothes.

clothes Source: Channel 4

No Missguided drops here, unfortunately.

9. Zoe literally rejoicing when she eliminated a gay contestant.


10. When Alex admitted to Zoe he was gay after going on a shopping spree with her.

aalexxxxxx Source: Channel 4

11. And I mean, who could have predicted that Ben was gay all along?

ben Source: Channel 4

zoe3 Source: Channel 4

Certainly not Zoe, who reacted far too calmly for someone who had been consistently lied to for six weeks, and was also almost cheated out of £50k as a result. (Ben was Mr Gay UK, just FYI).

zoe4 Source: Channel 4

How’s THAT for a dramatic split or steal?

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