Before there was Tinder or Bumble, young adults of the early 2000s had to meet potential suitors the old-fashioned way: On MTV dating reality shows.
MTV's first-ever "dating reality" series — "Singled Out" — made its debut in 1995. That was *the* show that set the tone for a whole decade of amazingly awful dating reality shows.
Unfortunately, "Singled Out" went off the air in 1998. However, that didn't stop MTV producers from whipping up series after series to take its place throughout the 2000s.
And they were glorious.
Here are seven of these MTV masterpieces, ranked from slightly amusing to FAN-fucking-TASTIC.
On "DisMissed," one hot shot got to go out with two different people — at the same time.
OK, the show's concept isn't all that wild, but remember: "DisMissed" premiered in 2001. Dating two people at the same time and then giving the person you like the least the boot (in front of the other dude! Awkward) was somewhat risqué for the early 2000s.
"DisMissed" falls short on this list because it's one of MTV's very first dating shows and it definitely still had its kinks.
But the show did send the message to teens that it's totally OK to have options (and you don't even have to hide your side piece!).
And for that, I thank you, MTV.
On "Taildaters," two people went out on a first date while their friends and exes watched from the comfort of a creepy van.
In other words, MTV gold.
The dates on "Taildaters" were pretty standard, but the commentary from the daters' best friends were A+.
And those computer graphics are fucking impressive for 2002.
5. "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"
"Is She Really Going Out With Him?" was an MTV docu-series that centered on — and I quote —"hot chicks dating douchebags."
This MTV gem is responsible for bringing America its small-statured treasure, Nicole "Snooki" Polizzi.
That's right — Snooki actually made her television debut on "Is She Really Going Out With Him?"
Snooks and her then-boyfriend, Justin, appeared on an episode titled "Jerz Pud." Polizzi's addictive personality made a splash, so MTV producers immediately whisked her away to star on the hit "Jersey Shore." (Maybe you've heard of it?)
And the rest is history.
4. "Room Raiders"
OMFG, where to even begin?
Basically, "Room Raiders" was a show in which three random people (and apparently Ryan Cabrera?) were kidnapped, locked in the back of a van and then forced to watch in horror as a hottie dug through their filthy rooms.
Seriously, that dude on the left has to be Ryan Cabrera.
Viewers watched with delight as fame-hungry teens and their disgusting sheets were exposed to a national audience.
MTV even supplied the raiders with a spy kit, so no questionable stain went unnoticed.
Whoever had the best room would immediately become the raider's new boyfriend or girlfriend.
Yes, "Room Raiders" was a show where true love was determined by junk drawers.
And the best part? Before he was singin' and dancin' in "High School Musical," Zac Efron actually made an appearance on "Room Raiders."
He was selected to be one of those ~too smooth~ heart throbs who got to dig through the ladies' bedrooms. Sigh.
(While we're on the topic of "Room Raiders," it's important for me to note that I was in fourth grade when this classic first aired. I had yet to grasp the fact that "reality television" wasn't exactly reality, and so I naively made sure to keep my room clean at all times just in case the "Room Raiders" van happened to be nearby. What if 10-year-old me was randomly selected for the show? I couldn't take that risk.)
3. "Date My Mom"
In a way, "Date My Mom" was the exact same show as "Room Raiders." But instead of digging through bedrooms to get the "dirt" (both literal and figurative) on a person, contestants would get the dirt from their mothers.
The suitors would pick up the moms at their homes, take 'em on pretty sick dates...
...and then the hot guys chose their next girlfriend based on the time they spent with the ladies' mothers.
Then the mother of the lucky winner would wave goodbye to the new couple as they ran into the sunset. Ah, modern romance.
2. "Parental Control"
In 2005, MTV created a show for teens who already had boyfriends and girlfriends.
Why, you ask?
Because their parents disapproved of their current relationships. Big time.
Disgruntled parents would set their kids up on two blind dates.
They even held auditions to find the lucky daters.
The catch? Mom and dad had to watch the dates on the couch next to their kid's bratty BF or GF.
The two parties would go back and forth, making crude comments to one another as they watched the dates on a TV. Hilarious.
After the two dates, the teens had to decide if they wanted to stay in their current relationship or start something new with their parents' picks.
And trust me, it was always better when the kids disobeyed their parents and stayed true to their terrible boo.
"Next" was MTV's perfect (but clearly scripted) "all-or-nothing" competition show that followed a bus full of contestants ready to compete for the attention of one lucky "host."
The contestants would earn a dollar for every minute they were able to spend on the date without hearing the dismissive “Next!" If no "Next!" came, that meant the host wanted to take 'em on a second date. The winner could choose to see the host again — or take the money and run.
"Next" combined greed and lust and I'M HERE FOR IT.
Please remember, "Next" introduced the world to winners like Johnny.
Not to mention, "Next" basically created the concept of a Tinder bio.
And who could forget Charity's dramatic exit?
Not me, that's for sure.
"Next" clearly existed before avocados became trendy...
C'mon, Keshia. You really thought guacamole came from "guacs"...?
...but nevertheless, the dating show was ADORED by the masses.
And it still is. Because THIS is quality television, people.
"Next" is easily MTV's greatest show of all time. Bow down to the bus.