At first glance Undressed may seem like just another reality dating show - although one that has ramped up the sexuality with much more sophistication than the usual, cringe inducing, match-making show fodder. It literally strips away the veneers because the contestants must first undress each other and then become further acquainted in a stark set, which is really just a large double bed and a giant video screen. It’s confrontational and the couples are immediately vulnerable way beyond what might be expected on even the funkiest blind date. And all the while, a cool female voice over reminds us that this is a social experiment, which poses the question: whether it’s possible to fall in love in just 30 minutes.
In the beginning of course there’s lots of nervous giggles as the two couples who take part in each episode fumble awkwardly with each other’s clothes. Social media manager, Cam has trouble unpicking the knot of nurse Pam’s blouse, while she has problems separating him from his skinny jeans. His verdict on this part of the experience isn’t kind.
"The moment Pam pulls my jeans off, isn’t romantic, I’d say it’s more aggressive," he remarks to the camera. Well, after all nurses are trained to remove clothes with clinical precision. What can he expect?
Meanwhile the second couple, personal trainer Tahlia and trainee teacher, Nathan are a little cooler. You get the feeling that Tahlia in particular, would not be fazed by very much at all.
Immediately though we understand that we’re in very different territory here than watching dating shows like The Bachelor which also has scantily clad contestants with the women threatening to fall out of their evening gowns at any moment. But at least there’s copious quantities of champagne to free the inhibitions. Hell, even on Married At First Sight - there’s an entire wedding breakfast to get through before the contestants must confront the intimacy of the honeymoon suite.
In Undressed, the artfully matched varied couples from every cross-section of society - straight, gay, bisexual, mixed race - are not even offered a sip of water as they get to know each other.
There’s also probing questions to answer on the giant video screen asking everything from what’s important in life to whether their cultural backgrounds have impacted on them?
Sexuality is also discussed with Nathan revealing on national television that he has a third nipple lurking beneath his Y-fronts and that after the first year of a relationship, his libido declines.
There’s other directions from the screen with some couples requested to do some dance moves or in the case of Nathan and Tahlia to pull on some boxing gloves and spar with each other. She complains that he’s softer than some of the women at the gym.
In Undressed nothing is left to chance: On the giant screen first there’s some footage of couples embracing and then the direction that they should kiss each other.
In episode one, Pam says that Cam is not the best kisser that she’s ever experienced, "But not the worst either” - while he gives her "five out of five”. Tahlia takes the lead with Nathan and doesn’t hold back. Will they all see each other again?
Even this part of the procedure is not for the faint hearted as the couples secretly make their choices and then a giant Yes and No rotate slowly across the screen like Lotto numbers being called until the answers become clear.
Did they all fall in love? Well, I don’t want to give anything away but when there’s rejection it certainly seems a much more poignant than on other dating shows.
Maybe it’s because those taking part really are stripped bare.
Watch new episodes of Undressed on Monday nights at 9:30pm on SBS. You can see early episodes, including the episode with Pam & Cam streaming on SBS On Demand: