If I’m being fully transparent, when I first heard that an astrology-based reality dating show called Cosmic Love was out on Prime Video, I was absolutely over the moon (no pun intended).
And then, my stomach sank as it hit me: It was an astrology-based reality dating show.
I have nothing against this genre of television. I’ve watched my fair share: The Bachelor, The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, and after great insistence from my mother, Married At First Sight. I was more concerned about Cosmic Love‘s approach to astrology: Would it be viciously mocked and misconstrued, giving unwarranted satisfaction to astrology haters?
My fears eased when I discovered that longtime astrologers the AstroTwins were working with the show. So, I decided to give it a shot. I sat down, poured my wine, and pressed play.
The concept of Cosmic Love falls in line with other dating shows. Four contestants—Connor, Noel, Maria, and Phoebe—enter with hopes of finding their one true love. Astrology comes into play immediately, with each contestant representing a different astrological element: fire, water, earth, and air. However, they aren’t the only players—16 other contestants, a mix of various signs, join the main four “Elements,” hoping to connect with them. The catch? These contestants were meticulously selected because they are a perfect astrological match for one of the Elements, and exactly which Element is revealed throughout the show. The end goal is for each person to find their soulmate and get married in the finale.
It turns out I didn’t need to worry about how astrology would be incorporated. All of the cast were open and excited to embrace the concept. Guidance from the “Astro Chamber”—a starry room where contestants go to hear astrological advice, voiced by Cree Summers—unpacks astrology thoughtfully and effectively, using entire birth charts to explain compatibility. Moon, Rising, Venus, and Mars signs, and even the Nodes are presented in a way that doesn’t feel jargon-y. The show maintains reality television staples: jealous contestants, dramatic confrontations, plot twists, and plenty of emotion to go around.
The only genuine complaint I have? I wish it were more queer.
Or queer at all.
The first episode makes it abundantly clear that this show is creating heterosexual matches: Narration from the Astro Chamber informs us that the male Elements each have four female matches while the female Elements have four male matches. True, this isn’t uncommon for reality TV. Although there are some exceptions, like the 2018 season of MTV’s Are You The One? or Netflix’s Dating Around, most reality dating shows focus solely on straight contestants (or at least those publicly seeking an opposite-sex relationship on TV).
Except, with Cosmic Love, this is kind of shocking. First, given the format of choosing unique matches for each of the main four “Elements,” it would have been very easy to include queer people without changing the format at all. In fact, having pansexual or bisexual cast members could have played into the show’s theatrics (“Who will they be matched with? It could be anyone. Find out in the next episode!”).
Second, there’s a strong connection between queer people and astrology that’s only grown in recent years. This isn’t to say that astrological communities are absent of homophobia, or that all queer people love astrology—that’s not the case. But if you’re looking for an audience of people who love astrology, a lot of them are going to be queer.
Back in 2018, Heather Dockray wrote an article for Mashable titled, “Astrology is booming, and it’s queerer than ever.” In it, Dockray explores the way astrology became “an outsider’s art, or in more mainstream contexts, a shallow, commercially viable fun hobby. This position—mainstream enough to reach diverse audiences and stigmatized enough to be treated as something of an academic ‘other’—made astrology ripe for embracing by LGBTQ folks, including QTPOC communities, in the 21st century.”
With that knowledge, it’s confusing why no queer people are in the cast of Cosmic Love.
Sure, it’s unusual for a reality dating shows to include queer cast members, but this show was never going to be for a Bachelor-style mainstream audience. In a behind-the-scenes interview, the AstroTwins explain that they’d previously been approached by TV production companies to create an astrology-based show, but large networks wouldn’t sign off on anything “paranormal,” due to fears of alienating religious consumers. It’s the streaming-service model that allows niche shows like Cosmic Love to exist.
But if the cast were more inclusive, it could’ve drawn in queer people who love astrology—a significant viewership! This isn’t to say that straight people can’t love astrology or be interested in watching a show about it. However, astrology is so beloved by the queer community that I have to wonder why a show about astrology would have zero queer representation—especially when it embraces diversity in other forms, with a variety of races, cultures, and personalities represented.
Ultimately, while there was a lot that I enjoyed about Cosmic Love, it missed the mark for me when it decided to focus exclusively on straight people. As a bisexual woman, I believe the show could have been better with queer inclusion, and the fact it was overlooked feels like a misstep. If the show gets another season, I hope it follows Netflix’s announcement about the second season of The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On: The entire cast will be queer.
I guess we can only hope that in the future, a possibility of a queer astrology dating show will be ~in the stars~.
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