Host Darren McMullen Talks About New NBC Show ‘Love in the Wild’

'Love in the Wild' host Darren McMullen (Photo: NBC)

'Love in the Wild' host Darren McMullen (Photo: NBC)

Think of it as “The Bachelor” meets “Survivor” meets “Amazing Race”—with a sense of humor.

Tonight NBC debuts its new adventure-dating series “Love in the Wild,” in which 10 men and 10 women dive into the jungles of Costa Rica where they dare to zip-line, paddle down croc-infested waters, and repel off waterfalls—all for the sake of finding love.

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However, like its reality TV predecessors before, “Love in the Wild” is a competition with winners and losers. After each challenge, the winning couple gets to spend quality time together to see if there are any sparks, but if the chemistry is nada, they can decide to switch partners. At the end of each show, a losing couple goes home…to find love, sadly, the way most of us boring, pathetic folks do, via not going on a TV show.

Aussie host Darren McMullen talked to reporters last week on why extreme adventures and deep love go hand-in-hand.

Did anyone find love on the show?
I fell in love with everybody on the show. They were all awesome. The guys were dreamy and the girls were gorgeous.

But in all seriousness, without giving too much away, I would say a significant number of people actually found true love—to the point they’re sneaking around currently meeting with each other in different towns because obviously we don’t want them to be caught walking down the street with each other because that would kind of ruin the show for everybody else.

I think everybody was genuinely surprised at the amount of people that actually, truly fell for each other. You never know what the fallout will be in a few months, but I’d say there could even be wedding bells for more than one couple.

So what kinds of dangers do they face in Costa Rica, and how do they affect people’s relationships?
Adventure-wise they really were out there in the elements. There were poisonous snakes, deadly spiders, jaguars, wild boars, crocodiles—you name it. And then I guess as the added element of basically trekking for sometimes hours on end in extreme heat and in rather rugged terrain.

With regard to the relationships, I guess the dangers they would face are, whenever you put people in this kind of scenario, all your feelings are heightened to the Nth degree, which was the premise behind the show.

It’s kind of like that Romancing the Stone kind of movie where you throw two complete strangers into an isolated wilderness and see what happens. And they either, really get along, or they really don’t get along. And we had equal amounts of both.

So I guess some of the dangers that were being faced are a quick slap across the face by your partner if they weren’t digging you. But at the same time, there were lots of people that fell truly and madly deeply in love with each other.

Did skill and the challenges become an important part of the game of finding love?
No. Bizarrely enough, no it didn’t, which we thought it would. We thought people would pair up just because that guy or girl was a strong competitor and would win the adventure. But I think everyone was genuinely there for the right reasons. And the reason being is there’s no million dollar prize in this.

So if you were just bumming around Costa Rica in the hope of having a free holiday with somebody that you don’t even really like, you’d be an idiot because let’s be honest: Nobody likes traveling with somebody you don’t like. It’s more of a hindrance than a prize. And that was the ultimate prize—to travel around the world with that partner and hopefully kick-start the relationship.

As the show goes on and progresses, you’ll even see people bow out because there’s nobody there for them anymore, which I thought was quite sweet.

Can you tell us what you know about the casting process?
Basically the producers were adamant they didn’t want people that just wanted to be famous and get drunk and take off their clothes to be on television. So they specifically chose people that had real jobs—and jobs they were going to go back to—so professional golfers, firemen, marriage planners, people in the corporate sector. That was probably the second prerequisite. The first prerequisite was they had to be looking for love. They had to be people that were genuinely looking for a lifelong partner.

A lot of the challenges and situations the contestants are in aren’t really that romantic. Do you think that helped or hindered them at finding love?
I honestly believe it [helped], yes. Because everybody, when you first start dating somebody, has a game face on. You know, it’s called the Honeymoon Period. And the one thing I took away from this show is, there’s no point in the game face. It’s stupid.

When you’re in these kind of scenarios, you know if you’re paddling down croc-infested water and your raft’s falling apart and you’re falling into that water, you’ve got no time for game faces; you really see that person’s true colors very quickly. And you either like that or you don’t like it.

What do you want viewers at home to take away from the show?
Generally when you watch reality television, you end up leaving your living room about 20% stupider than when you went in. So I don’t want that to happen with this show. I want people to watch this and go, ‘It’s a nice, fun show that we can watch for some good, lighthearted entertainment.’

Yes, it is under the realms of reality, but it’s not scripted in any way whatsoever. And really, that’s the biggest drama of all. I mean you couldn’t script some of the scenarios we had in there.

“Love in the Wild” airs tonight on NBC at 10/9c.

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The opinions expressed are solely those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of Comcast.

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