Ahead of tonight’s premiere of the revamped version of Love Connection, host Andy Cohen has opened up about some of the reboot’s biggest changes, including its inclusion of LGBT contestants.
Fox’s version of Love Connection borrows a lot from its predecessor, which ran from the early 1980s through the early ’90s under the charming lead of host Chuck Woolery. The premise was simple: singles would go on dates with potential suitors after watching their video-taped bios and then come on the show to discuss the dates with Woolery.
Though the new Love Connection will keep this basic structure, it’s modernizing the format with cash prizes, the option to have a romantic overnight and the casting of gay suitors.
It was Cohen’s idea to bring LGBT contestants onto the game show in order to increase queer visibility on network television.
“It’s 2017, and they should just be treated the exact same way as I’m treating everyone else,” Cohen told The Advocate of the gay and lesbian contestants. “I think it’s just kind of this post-gay world that we live in, where it’s just another part of this dating show.”
“The more visibility, the better,” he continued. “A network show where you have gay people dating? I think it’s great.”
One of these gay contestants is Liz Baxter. While the 32-year-old said she didn’t sign up for the show to be a representative of the LGBT community, she’s since come around to the idea.
“I never thought that I would be in this position, but I’m super proud of being gay, so I’m happy to be an advocate in any way,” Baxter said.
“It’s a perfect time to say, ’We’re here. We’re a part of the mainstream community. We’re on TV. And we’re not going away,'” Baxter added. “It’s an important statement that we keep stepping up as gay individuals and saying, ’This is us. We’re normal. I feel more empowered now than ever.'”
Love Connection debuts tonight on Fox at 9/8c. Watch the trailer below.