60%Overall Score

THE UPSHOT: What The Love! with Karan Johar is a dating reality show which KJo is cupid and counselor to a bunch of single men and women. Despite Johar and a bevy of celebrity guests, the series has as much chemistry as a toy laboratory.

Creators: BBC Studios.
Cast: Karan Johar, Maneka Harisinghani, Shaan Muttathil, Kaneez Surka, Ali Fazal, Arjun Kapoor, Sunny Leone, Shibani Dandekar, Arjun Rampal, Huma Qureshi, Parineeti Chopra, Mallika Dua, Saif Ali Khan
Streaming on: Netflix

The rules of the game

In September 2019, Netflix signed a deal with Karan Johar’s digital content studio Dharmatic Entertainment to create a series of originals for the Indian audience. The latest one to roll out is What The Love! with Karan Johar, a seven-part dating show starring Johar himself. His co-stars are single millenials solely dependent on dating apps to find a significant other. Johar’s job is to help these kids find love. His helpers are a bunch of celebrity guests Kaneez Surka, Mallika Dua, Saif Ali Khan, Sunny Leone, Ali Fazal, Parineeti Chopra, Arjun Kapoor, Shibani Dandekar, Arjun Rampal and Huma Qureshi.

The show is so phony it hurts

While all reality shows are scripted, the better ones have a semblance of truth. What the Love! is so fake, it’s almost unwatchable. The show starts with a party for the loveless youngsters and their host. Johar quizzes them on their thoughts on love and, at the end of the episode, slaps post-its on the photos of the shortlisted six contestants.
The chosen ones are then transformed. They undergo a therapy activity in which they’re encouraged to overcome self-doubt, past baggage and other mental blocks by Johar and smaller celebrities like Kaneez Surka and Mallika Dua. They’re given new looks and they’re prepped for an actual date by an A-list celebrity. Though there’s little difference between the two activities as in both cases, the contestant is counseled. After the transformation, the contestants go on two actual dates that their love guru, Johar, has set up.

The men have fewer issues than the women

The personal hang-ups department is skewed towards women. One overweight contestant reveals that she was made to feel ashamed about her body. Another woman, who has a facial scar, feels that it makes her look ugly. On the other hand, the men are practically free of complexes. Two of them say they have trouble approaching women but of them, one is shown to be sociable and gregarious. As a result, the idea of the show, which is to get troubled singles to find matches, falls flat.

There are very few saving graces

The show is inclusive, with an episode featuring a gay candidate. And there are moments of introspection and vulnerability when the contestants discuss issues such as homosexuality, sexual abuse, body-shaming and the orthodox norms of Indian society. But these aren’t enough to save the series. If you’re a fan of the make-over reality show, then you’re better off watching Queer Eye.