MTV’s ‘Are You the One?’ Host Ryan Devlin Dishes On the ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Finale

We chatted with Mr. Devlin about how MTV determines the perfect matches, the possibility of season with a gay cast and this season's finale.

(Photo: MTV)
Host Ryan Devlin with the cast during a matching ceremony. (Photo: MTV)

UPDATE: The season three perfect matches are listed at the end of this article

Last season, the Observer delighted in the drama of Are You the One? while simultaneously working mathematically to figure out the perfect matches. Using tactics similar to those one would use to play the board game Clue, we were able to solve the show like a logic puzzle and publish the correct matches only eight weeks into the 10-week series.

This season, we attempted to solve the matches again, but we had no luck. Anyone who has been watching can guess why: the cast has been so terrible at figuring out the matches themselves that there’s basically no information available to us, making it mathematically impossible to figure them out prior to the big reveal.

While we’re disappointed we can’t solve the show this season, there’s one person who’s more frustrated than any viewer: host Ryan Devlin.

We chatted with Mr. Devlin about his feelings about this season, how MTV determines the perfect matches, the possibility of a season with a gay cast and this season’s finale.

“They packed a lot of story into the finale. It’s going to be madness,” he said, barely able to contain and convey his shock. “I’ll be on Twitter answering questions. Get ready for some craziness. This thing finishes like…your jaw…it’s jaw-dropping how this thing comes together. It’s bonkers.”

Here’s more of our conversation:

You’re only on screen during the challenges, truth booths and matching ceremonies. What are you doing the rest of the time? Do you hang out with the house members at all?

I don’t interact with the cast at all because we try to let them do their thing, but I am heavily involved behind the scenes. Every day, I have producer meetings where we talk about what’s happened. I need to be brought up to speed on what went down so I can work that into how I deal with the cast the next time I see them. I also work with the writer on the scripting stuff, so language for the dates and the stupid puns we come up with for the challenge names. I shoot something every day, though. I have other careers too. I produce a show on GSN and I’m the co-founder of a granola bar company called This Bar Saves Lives, so there’s never a dull moment. I’ve also got a baby and my family out there.

‘The way they are playing right now, they deserve to lose. I won’t feel bad if they do because they’re bringing it upon themselves.’

Which season has been your favorite so far?

It’s a tough question, and it’s truly like trying to pick your favorite kid. The casts have been very different and the experiences have been very different. I have a soft spot in my heart for season one because it was the first. They had no idea what the format was coming in, so it was a huge surprise that they were playing for the biggest cash prize in MTV history—$1 million. And there wasn’t any sense from the cast that they knew how to game the system because they hadn’t seen the show before. We also had Ethan and Amber who were matched up as a perfect match and then went on to get married, and they now have a child. It’s just so awesome that was able to come from the show.

Season two was a crazier cast with a lot more madness, drama and hookups. And season three, they’re the most rebellious. They think they’ve got it figured out, they think they can game it and they’re just falling flat on their faces right now, and part of my loves that too. I look at them and think, ‘you guys are being so dumb.’ They’re going into the ninth episode and they only got three perfect matches last week.

And they have no idea who the matches are. They’re clueless (he agreed). I know you know what happens, but I have to be honest; if they end up getting all of the matches, I’ll be shocked and will question if it’s legitimate. They’re so far away, it will feel like it came out of thin air.

Obviously, I know, but putting myself back at this point in the series, I’m thinking the exact same thing as you. First of all, the way they are playing right now, they deserve to lose. I won’t feel bad if they do because they’re bringing it upon themselves. Second of all, if for whatever reason, they’re able to figure this out, I don’t know if I’ll be okay with that, because it will feel like it came out of nowhere and it will feel like maybe it wasn’t deserved. It’s a weird situation because you’re rooting for them. I don’t know the matches going in and I’m experiencing it with them and always wanting them to figure it out. They already got hit with the blackout and I’m just like, ‘what’s it going to take?’ They have two more shots and it’s not beyond the realm of possibility—it just seems like a long shot.

What we know so far. Last season we could take information from the truth booths and blackouts to figure out more than what was made known. Not this season. (Photo: MTV)
This is what we know so far. Last season, we could take information from the truth booths and blackouts to figure out more than what was made known. Not this season. (Photo: MTV)

I’ve noticed there has been a lot more drama this season. Did MTV purposefully cast with the intention of there being more drama for TV?

I agree there is more drama, but I don’t think we casted to create it. I sat in on casting, and the success of the show really comes from the heart. Yes, people love the drama and it’s easy to talk about, but overwhelmingly, what we’ve seen from fans is that they’re watching themselves up on that screen. They’re looking at their own dating problems, and they’re rooting for these people, even if they delight in the the drama. The emphasis on bringing in 10 guys and 10 girls who truly are perfect matches is really strong. It just so happens that when you bring 20 people into a house, there’s gonna be personality clashes, competitiveness, jealousy and backstabbing, and that’s just natural to what you see in the real world. It just so happens they’re under an intense amount of pressure, so everything becomes heightened.

How does casting work considering you need to find 20 people you want to be on the show that are also perfect matches?

It’s a massive pool to start with. Every season we’re getting more and more applications. There’s parameters, of course—an age requirement, you have to be single, you have to suck at dating. There’s a massive personality test, questionnaires, interviews with psychologists and professional matchmakers. There’s interviews with friends, family and their exes. There’s multiple interviews over Skype and in person in LA. We really dig in to find out if they’re truly looking to find their match or just want to be a TV star. And we can really tell after all of the tests, so then we have a new pool and see who are perfect matches.

Screen shot 2015-11-18 at 10.48.58 AM
Last week’s matching ceremony got heated after Tyler decided not to choose Kiki, ensuring they couldn’t win that week. (Screenrgrab: MTV)

Would MTV consider doing a season where the contestants are not all straight? Either a gay or bisexual version?

I’d watch it and certainly host it. There’s so many people out there looking for love. And there’s casting challenges with anything, but I think it’d be fantastic. So yes, season four or a spin-off even—I would love to see it. I know there’s been discussion about this and I don’t know where they’re at, but I’ll be sitting down with producers soon about season four and I’ll bring it up again.

How much do you personally believe in MTV’s matchmaking process? Do you think you’re finding people who are perfect matches not just for the show, but in real life?

I do. I think it works a lot of the time. There’s no way anything could work 100 percent of the time or this would be a true phenomenon and we’d be changing the world, but I think it works some of the time, and that’s better than what’s working for these people right now. If they opened their hearts and minds, I think they’d be shocked to see how true these matches are.  And sometimes people find love who may not be a perfect match, and who cares? At the end of the day, if they’re finding love and we happen to get it wrong, that’s a win too. It’s a long shot when you’re trying to make great TV and change people’s lives, but we’ve managed to do it already.

When people find something special with someone who isn’t their match, then how well is the system working? How much does this complicate the game?

It’s very like what would happen in reality. When you become infatuated with somebody not right for you, not only does it mess up your own relationship chances, in our game, it messes up everyone else’s.

A scene from tonight's two-part finale. (Screengrab: MTV)
The cast uses Solo cups to try to work out the matches in this scene from tonight’s two-part finale. (Screengrab: MTV)

Last season, I figured out the matches weeks before the finale using a little simple math. What’s to stop those on the show from doing the same?

First off, congratulations to you. That’s awesome. They figured it out with brain man Anthony really starting to think about it and unlock things. So as you go along, you can start to use truth booths and blackouts to really help kick the odds in your favor. However, they don’t have the benefit of what you probably had, which is, if nothing else, a pen, piece of paper and computer. Everything they do has to be done together, out loud, in their heads. They have no pens, papers, computers or phones in the house. There are no grids than can be drawn, and nothing is worse television than watching people work out a math problem. But, there are visual ways to do it. We saw it with Anthony and in the finale they start trying to work it out by roll playing like, ‘you sit here. you sit here’ and by using little models like shampoo bottles and Solo cups, and they’ll move them around to try and figure it out. And using just strategy, at least this season, has proven to be a loser. It caused them to black out and lose $250,000, and going into week nine, the best they’ve done is three perfect matches. But if you can start to find your match naturally and then maybe incorporate strategy, then I think you can kick the odds in your favor.

You were just renewed for season four. What can we expect? Will there be a twist?

We’re really excited, and I guess the short answer is that I don’t know yet. We’re casting, and all I know is that MTV really likes the way the show is going. We had a little bit of a twist this season with them losing money if they black out. And what that did was help motivate the cast to help keep their hearts as the focus. If you’re here for the right reason and are looking for love, you can leave with $1 million. But if you try to game the system or purposefully black out so you can essentially get a giant truth booth, then it will cost you. So I think that if we see any new twist or additional twist, I think it will be along the lines of this—something that will keep them on track. With every season that airs, the next cast has an advantage.

This interview has been edited for length and clarity.

Season three perfect matches

  1. Chelsey and Conner
  2. Kayla and Zak
  3. Britni and Austin
  4. Hannah and Hunter
  5. Rashida and Devin
  6. Cheyenne and Tyler
  7. Alec and Amanda
  8. Stacey and Nelson
  9. Melanie and Chuck
  10. Kiki and Mike
MTV’s ‘Are You the One?’ Host Ryan Devlin Dishes On the ‘Jaw-Dropping’ Finale