Ahead of the premiere of ‘Are You The One?’, we caught up with some of the season 8 stars about why being the first-ever sexually fluid cast made the show harder than ever before.
Season 8 of Are You The One? features a sexually fluid cast for the first time — which means that the 16 contestants on the show could have a potential perfect match with anyone else in the house. Naturally, this is sure to result in more crossover relationships than we’ve ever seen on the show before. “It’s hilarious to even call them love triangles, because it’s like…what shape has 16 sides?” Justin Palm joked in an EXCLUSIVE interview with HollywoodLife. “That was the difficult part. There’s so many possibilities, and then you don’t necessarily even have a set of friends because….everyone is a possibility. You’re kind of in it alone.”
The blurred lines between friendships and romantic relationships in the house definitely made things “messy,” Basit Shittu (who uses gender-neutral pronouns) admitted. “We got into trouble when we wanted to make someone our friend,” they said. “You can’t really do that. As much as you want to just be like…you’re my friend, and you’re my friend, there’s always this possibility that they’re your match. So it’s tricky.” Paige Cole added, “You don’t really have any designated friends unless you’re a confirmed no match. You never know — your best friend could also be your perfect match!”
“It was tricky at first,” Justin explained. “But once we got into the middle, I think there was just a sense of acceptance and love and community, so we had to allow for some sort of friendship role with some people.”
This season of Are You The One? is breaking barriers by being the first American dating show with a fully sexually fluid cast, and Justin gushed that it’s been “exhilarating” to be part of that history. “MTV has such a huge affect on culture, especially adolescents and young adults,” he said. “There’s people and kids back home who are watching me represent them on TV. It’s absolutely amazing.” As for Nour Fraij, coming on the show was a “big deal,” because she was raised in a super strict and religious household. “For me to put myself in a position where I exposed myself to that extent is crazy,” she admitted. “But I know that, aside from any negativity I may get, the positive that’s going to come out of the experience is going to change so many lives, and that’s what I’m focusing on.”
Of course, there’s a “sense of pressure” when it comes to being part of something so groundbreaking, but the cast admitted that they haven’t let it get to them. “I felt a little pressure to be a good example at first,” Justin explained. “But as we got into it, I just realized I needed to live my own truth. One of the most important things about this show is that queer people are just people. We make mistakes, we f*** up, we have sloppy and messy nights. I think this is a really good way of showing that.” Basit added, “Queer people never had the platform to do what we did, but as people who exist within the community, we know what we’re capable of. I think the fact that we have all these nuances that you’ve never seen on a dating show makes me not feel any pressure to be successful. I know what we’re bringing to TV is special and magical.”
While this cast was clearly united on the message they wanted to get across to viewers, there definitely won’t be a shortage of drama this season. “You shouldn’t assume ANYBODY gets along,” Basit teased. “There are times when there are so many different butting heads situations in the house that you can’t even keep them straight. But I would also say that there’s a common feeling that we have a bigger purpose than to just be catty. There was definitely a common goal-type spirit between us, but then there were times where we were catty and petty.”
We’ll get to see how this all plays out when the new season of Are You The One? premieres on June 26 at 9:00 p.m. on MTV!