Are You the One is returning for an eighth season this summer with one huge twist — for the first time, the entire identifies as being somewhere on the LGBTQ+ spectrum, meaning the "perfect matches" they're looking for aren't necessarily male/female pairings. In addition to having a more sexually fluid cast, many of them also identify as something other than cisgender, and they're all super vocal about how important it is to shake up the reality dating show format to document queer lives. A preview clip shows Kai, a 26-year-old nonbinary artist, Are You the One cast administering a hormone shot while another competitor, 25-year-old Jenna Brown, watches and snags a kiss after. What Parents Are Talking About — Delivered Straight To Your Inbox
The cast hopes to show what can happen when TV accommodates more diverse romantic pairings — for many of them, being on this season of
Are You the One represents a push back against the heteronormative dating shows that have dominated TV since the early 2000s. Amber Martinez, a 22-year-old actor from Yonkers, said in the same clip, "It sucked growing up watching a lot of straight shows because it kind of made me feel like, 'Okay, it’s not right.'"
But other aspects of the show follow its traditional format. Sixteen singles will still travel to Maui, shack up in one big house, and try to find their pre-determined perfect matches in exchange for a cash prize of $1 million. If they can pair off according to the secret matchmaking algorithm deployed by producers, they'll go home with a potential new partner and pocketful of prize money. Here's more on the cast.
Aasha is a 22-year-old Miami Beach native and
Florida International University Class of 2019 graduate. According to Aasha's MTV bio, she has a very particular set of rules for her partners to follow so she doesn't get jealous. But she's also committed to exploring her sexuality, which apparently poses a challenge to solid relationship-building this season. Basit Shittu
Basit is a 22-year-old from Brooklyn who also has a drag queen persona named Dionne Slay. According to their MTV bio,
Basit knows how to be an advocate for self-expression in the spotlight. But in their personal relationships, they have more trouble expressing their emotions for fear of alienating their partners. Based on their Instagram, I'm going to go ahead and say that Basit's eye makeup game becomes legendary this season. Brandon Davis Brandon comes from a conservative military family and grew up moving around a lot. According to his MTV bio, this made him great at reading people but terrible at letting people in on his own life. And according to his meticulously chiseled body, which is on full display in tons of Instagram model pics, I'm guessing he's going to be a very popular housemate. Danny Prikazsky Danny, 27, works as a data scientist and as you can tell from his glasses, he really leans into the whole self-described nerd thing. He's been engaged once before, but it didn't work out, and he's hoping to learn how to prioritize his own needs in relationships more this season. Jasmine Olson
Jasmine, 21, is from Oxford, MS, and loves getting dirty in the great outdoors.
Her big challenge this season, according to her MTV bio, will be actually demanding that her partners meet her own high standards, rather than caving to settle for less than she deserves. Jenna Brown
Like many of the contestants this season,
Jenna, 25, also grew up in a conservative family. She hails from Bloomington, IN, and although she isn't the only queer person in her family, her identity is still a source of conflict at home. Jenna has a tendency to bring that chaos into her romantic relationships, so she'll have to learn to embrace stability this season. Jonathan Monroe Jonathan, 28, is both a free spirit and a bank manager, and, just as confusingly, he has trouble looking past his first impressions of people. The Florida native is super into getting in touch with primal instincts, and admitted in a clip that he doesn't have TV or WiFi at home. So hopefully his perfect match isn't too attached to the internet. Justin Palm Justin, 24, is a Navy veteran, but he's also been on his own since he was 14 years old, which puts some very big chinks in his armor. He still struggles with abandonment issues and tends to flee relationships before he can get dumped. The California native will have to learn to cope with his fears if he wants to find a stable relationship. Kai Wes Kai, 26, first came out as a lesbian before coming out as nonbinary in 2016. He describes his nonbinary identity as transmasculine and, since coming into his gender, has discovered a more fluid sexuality as well. A preview clip shows him hitting it off with Jenna, but anything could happen as the season wears on. Kari Snow Kari, 23, is an avid cosplayer from New Jersey and even though she plays up a bubbly personality, Kari has a dark relationship history, according to her MTV bio. Her challenge this season will be to embody her whole self in relationships — both the fun-loving parts and her past trauma. Kylie Smith Kylie, 24, is from Salt Lake City, UT and she moonlights as a bartender while modeling. Relationship-wise, she falls hard and fast but then falls out of love just as quickly. She's hoping to be able to slow down this season and actually build a solid foundation for a relationship to stick. Max Gentile Max, 25, grew up in a conservative family in Ohio, and, as a result, wound up repressing his sexuality for a long time. A move to Los Angeles helped him come into his own, but he still struggles with self-acceptance, which will pose a challenge as he tries to date on Are You the One. Nour Fraij Nour, 25, grew up in a traditional Jordanian Muslim household and married young to honor her culture's traditions. But having identified as bisexual from a young age, she felt her life as it was didn't make space for her whole self. So she took control, left her marriage, and started living on her own terms. According to her MTV bio, her need for control sometimes creeps into her relationships and throws them off, so she'll have to give up some of her hard-won independence if she wants to make a relationship work. Paige Cole
Page, 21, has a supportive family, but didn't have the most supportive community growing up in Texas. Many of
her romantic relationships revolved around sex, according to her MTV bio, and so she hasn't gotten the full experience of a queer relationship yet. She hopes to finally put all the pieces together this season. Remy Duran Remy, 27, grew up in the New York City club scene, per his MTV bio, and has cultivated a pretty intense personality as a result. Toning down his flashy persona to let people in will be his challenge on the show.
You can follow along with
Are You the One's groundbreaking eighth season when it premieres Jun. 26 on MTV.