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These Problematic Moments From Early 2000s Dating Shows Are Absolutely Mind-Boggling

Early aughts dating shows were full of some seriously awful moments that are cringy at best and grossly problematic at worst.

Were we okay in the early 2000s? Probably not, and reality TV proves it.

Looking for love isn't easy, and for the first time during that decade, reality TV became a viable option for finding love. Once they became popular, it seems like every variety of dating show you could think of was airing and...let's just say they didn't all deserve a chance.

That said, early aughts dating shows are full of some seriously awful moments that are cringy at best and grossly problematic at worst. Here's some proof.

1. In 2003, FOX pulled a bait and switch on single women, convincing them they were competing to marry a millionaire when really, he was a blue-collar dude in Joe Millionaire.

View this video on YouTube

FOX / Via youtube.com

2. The epic fail that was Who Wants to Marry a Multi-Millionaire? had women compete in a beauty pageant-styled competition with the goal of winning the heart (and wallet) of one Rick Rockwell.

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FOX / Via youtube.com

The millionaire's identity was kept a secret until the end of the two-hour special, where he chose Darva Conger to marry on TV, on the spot.

Darva Conger posing in promotion of her July 2000 Playboy cover

It's hard to say if the secret identity was truly part of the show or an effort by someone to cover up Rockwell's past. Born Richard Balkey, the Smoking Gun revealed a 1991 restraining order against him by an ex with allegations of domestic violence.

Rick Rockwell on a beach in Encinitas, California in March 2000

3. Play It Straight, which lasted three series before backlash canceled it, had a woman date a group of 14 men, only five of whom were straight. If she picked a straight man at the end, they would each receive $500,000. If she chose one of the gay men, he'd get the full $1 million, and she'd walk away empty-handed.

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FOX / Via youtube.com

This bad idea originated in the UK, but somehow, it went over even worse here in the states.

4. Similarly, Bravo tried it with Boy Meets Boy, where a gay bachelor dated his prospective partners without knowing which were truly gay and which were straight.

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FOX / Via youtube.com

While the bachelor learned of the twist before making his final choice, gay contestants weren't told until eight days after filming concluded.  

5. Lorenzo Lamas pointing out people's flaws with a laser pointer on Are You Hot? Gross. Randolph Duke telling a woman to lose weight? Grosser. Rachel Hunter partaking in this nonsense as a woman herself? Grossest.

panel Rachel Hunter, Randolph Duke and Lorenzo Lamas on "Are You Hot?"

6. Married by America let viewers vote on couples who were put through a short engagement period before deciding whether or not to tie the knot.

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FOX / Via youtube.com

7. When The Littlest Groom had a bachelor date a pool of little women, only to later introduce women of average height as "competition" for them. Just awful.

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FOX / Via youtube.com

8. Age of Love introduced a 30-year-old bachelor to a larger group of women made up of two subgroups: the "kittens" (20-somethings) and the "cougars" (women in their 30s and 40s).

Age of Love trailer

9. Chains of Love physically chained contestants together and filmed around the clock.

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UPN / Via youtube.com

10. Mr. Personality, which suggested the only way to not be blinded by someone's looks when making dating decisions is to be unable to see what they look like.

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FOX / Via youtube.com

11. Temptation Island, in which allegedly healthy couples messed around and found out how easily their S.O. would give in when given unfettered access to attractive, eligible women.

View this video on YouTube

FOX / Via youtube.com

12. And finally, while not quite a dating show but still a misogynistic mess: The Swan, which treated women's "social anxiety" and feelings of "invisibility" and "isolation" with alleged therapy and copious amounts of plastic surgery.

woman in a before and after photo from "The Swan" on FOX

What other facets of early aughts reality TV seems problematic to you looking back? Share in the comments!

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