Is She the Wolf?

Is She the Wolf?

A dating reality show with a strange twist that's still addictive and emotionally thorny


TV Show

Reality, Romance


A great reminder to myself that I am just a potato in the form of a twentysomething human.

What it's about

Five men and five women pursue love among themselves, but at least one of the women has been tasked with rejecting whoever she ends up with.

The take

Even within the first two episodes of the Japanese reality series Is She the Wolf? (a spin-off of parent show Who Is the Wolf?), it admittedly isn't very clear how the premise works. At least one female contestant in this pool of 22- to 32-year-olds—all of whom happen to be performers of some kind—has been told that they ultimately cannot reciprocate when somebody chooses them by the end, though they don't seem to be told what they win if they comply. And with the reveal of who one wolf is during the first episode, the twist starts to feel more cruel than intended, with the chosen woman feeling genuinely heartbroken about not being able to get closer to the man she's interested in.

But it sure makes for good TV. With this layer of suspicion and heightened emotional stakes, even watching the supposedly regular contestants becomes more engrossing: are they sincere, or are they using their performance backgrounds to good use? And despite the central twist, there's still something calming about Is She the Wolf?, as all of the contestants are refreshingly polite and soft-spoken—avoiding the kind of trashy behavior that often makes American dating shows equal parts exciting and irritating. These are just well-adjusted adults with jobs exercising caution as they get to know one another.

What stands out

Once the wolf is revealed at the end of the first episode, it becomes a little difficult not to see her as the center of the show. There are many different ways she could use the position she's in (which succeeding episodes may very well show), but even just in her initial heartbroken state, she becomes very easy to root for. Through her, we begin to see every other contestant's behavior with a hint of jealousy and yearning, as she still tries to make a connection despite the limits placed on her emotions. Again, cruel but undeniably fascinating.

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