Ryan Devlin is deep into his third season as the host of MTV's reality dating competition "Are You the One?" which puts 20 singles in a house where somewhere among their fellow contestants is their perfect match — they just have to find them. Only this year, it's not really going that well.
What sparked your interest in this show?
I was really taken immediately by the concept. There's nothing like it on television, this idea that everyone can win together. Every reality competition you see out there, there are people being voted off and losing and being told they're not good enough and then there's one winner at the end. With "Are You the One?" it's totally unique. There's 10 guys and 10 girls, they all suck at dating and they're brought together to find their perfect match. And if they do it right, not only do they leave the island with love, they leave with a million bucks. Everyone can win. Or, alternately, everyone can lose. They're proving to be a little bit dumber this year than previous.
How much time do they left to do that?
If these lunatics can come together and find their perfect matches, the show's over. They get 10 tries, they've burned through six and they're not doing well. They've already lost $250,000, they're freaking out. People are dumb, they're still hooking up with people they know aren't their match, and it's ruining things for the house. They have a long way to go.
How much do you think the setting has to do with that?
I think it has a lot to do with it. It's just paradise. They're in a mansion in Hawaii surrounded by beautiful people who are looking for the same thing they're looking for. It's consequence-free for the most part and it's completely cut off from anything in the real world that might lead you to check yourself. They don't have internet, they don't have TV, they don't phones or contact with friends or family or anybody who might be able to talk sense into them.
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What is it like to take a bunch of millennials' phones away?
They do surprisingly well. You would think it would just be the worst thing ever because everyone at that age is just glued to their screens, but I think we dangle enough other shiny objects in front of them that it doesn't have much of an effect until they get towards the end. That's when they really start to feel the disconnect. It's hard to be in a vacuum that long, but at first it's just a crazy paradise. You're in a mansion with beautiful people, unlimited alcohol, great food. The question six weeks in is if they find love can they remain happy, and if they don't find love will they kill each other?
SHARING A BEDROOM...
On "Are You the One?" the 20 romantically challenged contestants don't just share a house, they also all share one big bedroom — which can be more than a little awkward. "Maybe you have an early connection, maybe you hook up with somebody, and then you find out that they're not your match, and then, 'Oh s—, I still have to sleep in the same bedroom with this person while I'm trying to move on,'" Devlin explains. "Think about how hard that is, if you were always around your ex while you're trying to date somebody new. With relationships, things don't end usually where you're like, 'OK, let's both move on and be happy.' Usually there's one person still pining for the other person, and you're just sitting there watching them hook up with who was yesterday your best friend in the house."
Follow Ned Ehrbar on Twitter: @nedrick