Sexy Beasts, the latest Netflix reality show to take on dating with a twist, took the internet by storm earlier in the week. This time, however, the twist seems to have upset a community of people that twist borrows from heavily: furries.
The concept of the show takes blind dating to a new level, putting its contestants in heavy makeup and prosthetics to look like various wild animals. The idea of it all is that the daters won’t know what their counterparts look like, which means they will get to know the real person inside rather than the, uh, dolphin or beaver or whatever on the outside. But those who are passionate about dressing up like animals as part of their real lives aren’t exactly thrilled about the show making light of something they’ve invested a lot of themselves into.
Slate spoke about the show with a man named Joe Strike, who has written a book about the culture and is a veteran of it himself. Strike called the show “very exploitative” of the furry community and claimed that Netflix knew it was doing just that when it made the show.
I think Netflix knows exactly what they’re doing, and Netflix knows exactly what they want. There is a very widespread awareness of furries, and a lot of it is from a negative perspective. I think that even if they don’t come out and use the F word, they are hoping that people, critics and viewers, will throw that in there just as some of those comments did on YouTube. There’s always been a “Oh, look at the weirdos” kind of thing. I think this is definitely playing into that. But this is not going to shame furries because we’re used to getting this kind of reaction, to a lot of people looking at us this way.
It’s a fascinating interview to say the least, as Strike is clearly passionate and knowledgeable about a world that many simply don’t have experience with beyond jokes. And while dating shows are silly in general, it’s a good reminder that what some find weird and unique may be another person’s everyday lifestyle. We’ll have to see just how much the show leans into the various elements at play here when it hits Netflix on July 21.