Are You For Real?

Are You For Real?
Media
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The title screen of the intro to the second season Are You For Real?, showing the show's space-themed set design.

AYFR?: Space Mission title screen.

Genre

Reality

Created by

Earlybird

Presented by

Cupoid

Produced by

Euphoria Network

Country of origin

United States (US)

Running time

50-75 minutes

Release

October 20th 2047

Are You For Real?, commonly abbreviated as AYFR?, is an American reality show created by Earlybird and produced by the Euphoria Network that began airing in November 2047. In the hopes of finding love, a group of single contestants is confined to a remote location and tasked with truth-or-dare games generated by Cupoid, the show’s artificial intelligence (AI) host. AYFR? is widely considered to be the first reality show in the elimination romance competition genre generated and hosted entirely by a dreaming AI.

In December 2048, a second season dubbed AYFR?: Space Mission premiered, evolving the original premise by confining contestants to an artificial spacecraft and assigning them to group tasks in which one contestant is always an AI saboteur played by Cupoid. On February 4th 2049, production and airing of AYFR?: Space Mission was halted when a contestant was killed by another during filming. The murder investigation has led to an ongoing criminal trial, with a verdict expected on October 6th 2049. Euphoria has not announced plans to resume production or airing.

Format

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A portrait of Cupoid, a 3D-generated avatar based on Cupid and meant to represent the host of a love-themed reality show.

AYFR?’s official host is Cupoid, an AI with an avatar based on Cupid.

Are You For Real? contestants move into a single location and are divided into couples by Cupoid, the show’s artificial intelligence (AI) host. Each day, Cupoid generates both dialogue prompts (Truths) and group tasks (Dares) aimed at generating intimacy or discord between the couples. Couples who successfully complete challenges win the opportunity to add keywords or phrases to Cupoid’s training data, potentially influencing the upcoming prompts.

A key component of the format is that couples are only allowed to speak to each other face-to-face during Cupoid’s Truth phases. At the end of each day, contestants visit the Verify Booth to exchange messages with their partner, with no way of knowing whether they are speaking to a real person or Cupoid’s simulation of that person. Couples who fail to Verify each other have to wear orange jumpsuits branded with the word FAKE and spend the night in the Fake Room at risk of elimination.

History and development

Season 1: Mansion House

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A portrait of Jay 'Earlybird' Jones wearing a yellow shirt and laughing.

AYFR? creator Earlybird, pictured in 2048.

The first season of AYFR? is commonly referred to by fans as AYFR?: Mansion House to distinguish it from the second season, which centres on AI-generated games involving a more complex premise.

Showrunner Earlybird‘s initial pitch to the Euphoria Network proposed a competition dating show predicated on training AI on corpora created by the contestants themselves. Earlybird also wanted to explore whether contestants could differentiate between requests and instructions from one another and those given by an AI. Euphoria tentatively greenlit AYFR? for a single six-episode season, citing the experimental format and Earlybird’s “anxiety-inducing resume” as cause for hesitation. [1]

After the first episode was released on October 20th 2047, the show steadily picked up a dedicated viewership. A record-breaking 39.8 million Euphoria subscribers tuned in for the season finale, during which finalist couple Jenyzcia Lake and Marsh Fubbins both correctly identified that each had been taking dares from the other, not Cupoid. Lake and Fubbins also surprised one another with a mutual commitment proposal at the first season’s reunion episode, watched by 15.9 million subscribers. [2]

Episode Episode title Winning couple Cupoid? Original stream date
1 “Time To Get Real” Ruann/Marsh Y/N 20/11/2047
2 “Two Texts And A Truth” Oli/Rajinder Y/Y 27/11/2047
3 “Reality Bites Back” Ruann/Jenyzcia N/Y 04/12/2047
4 “Cupoid’s Arrow Flies True” Jenyzcia/Marsh Y/Y 11/12/2047
5 “Real Trouble In Paradise!” Candido/Rajinder N/Y 18/12/2047
6 “The Moment Of Truth” Jenyzcia/Marsh N/N 25/12/2047

Season 2: Space Mission

Following the success of the first season, Euphoria commissioned Earlybird to produce a more robust second season, similarly based on contestants engaging with AI-generated objectives and story content. The network believed the first season owed its success to audiences captivated by the “game” of distinguishing real people from an AI trained to emulate them, and tasked Earlybird with further developing this angle through the use of iconic “hidden role” contestants. He was also directed to incorporate the use of neural colloids into the show’s format to allow Cupoid to train on the contestants’ neural data, but Earlybird objected on philosophical grounds, claiming he explicitly intended to prove that “beautiful systems have the power to reflect our humanity all on their own.” [3]

AYFR?: Space Mission was conceived by Earlybird from the beginning as a twelve-episode story arc. Its first episode premiered to a peak viewership of 41 million subscribers, though participation steadily dropped to about eight million subscribers per episode with the exception of the fourth episode, “In Space, No One Can Hear You Rap.” This episode featured Code Aberrant as a guest judge and brought in 22 million subscribers. On February 4th 2049, production on AYFR?: Space Mission was halted after a contestant was found murdered by another in the game’s Airlock Zone.

Episode Episode title Description Cupoid challenge theme Original stream date
1 “A Space All Of Our Own” Twelve new singles join Cupoid in space for a surprise elimination ceremony. HEART 13/12/2048
2 “Love You To The Moon And Back” Cupoid shocks the remaining contestants with a big reveal. TICKLE 20/12/2048
3 “Airlock Of Truth” Things heat up on the space station as two lucky singles are chosen for the Airlock Zone. DISEASE 27/12/2048
4 “In Space, No One Can Hear You Rap” The space team singles rap battle for the chance to repair the communications panel. RAP 03/01/2049
5 “Just Trying To Get A Reaction” The eight singles form two teams and try to suss out a saboteur in the Reactor Core. MOTHER 10/01/2049
6 “Cupoid Tells All!” Cupoid shocks the remaining contestants with a big reveal. ALIEN 17/01/2049
7 “Cupoid Tells All! (Part 2)” It’s drama time for the four remaining contestants as they struggle to guess which one of them is an AI saboteur. REPAIR 24/01/2049
8 “White Party” The couples enjoy some in-person time to celebrate and connect after the drama they’ve faced. THROTTLE 31/01/2049
9 “Meet The Parents” N/A N/A N/A

Controversy

Contestant selection

Euphoria has faced public criticism for its contestant selection process, shared by many of the network’s reality games. In the fifth episode of AYFR?: Mansion House, “Real Trouble In Paradise!”, contestant Candido Stamp consumed a dangerous quantity of laundry capsules at Cupoid’s direction, requiring emergency medical attention. [4] Fan sleuths discovered that Stamp had artificially inflated his audience numbers in order to pass AYFR?’s Influencer Resilience Criteria as established by the 2032 Ethics in Reality Narratives Act, and called for Euphoria to improve its vetting process. [5]

Contestant murder

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A statement from the Euphoria Network issued on February 7th 2049, announcing the death of Are You For Real? contestant Bohu Skinner and the halting of production on the show's second season.

Statement on Bohuslav Skinner’s death, issued by Euphoria on February 7th 2049.

On February 7th 2049, contestant Marfa Poingdestre was taken into custody for the murder of fellow contestant Bohuslav Skinner, which took place during the filming of the ninth episode’s Airlock Zone challenge on February 4th 2049. Media outlets were delayed in reporting details of the case, as Euphoria took two days to release the unaired episode footage to law enforcement. The investigation into the murder indicated that Poingdestre had smothered Skinner with a vinyl swimming pool inflatable shaped like an alligator. At her arraignment, she said that “Cupoid made me” and that she had believed Skinner “was not real” when she attacked him. [6] Poingdestre also disputed initial reports that she had suffered a blankout during the murder, stating that she was “completely aware of [her] actions.”

In March 2049, investigators found that contestants were left unsupervised for prolonged periods of confinement with Cupoid, creating the possibility that US standards of custody for AI training data had been seriously breached. Euphoria representatives disclaimed liability for what they called an “exploit unbeknownst to us” in a system designed and licensed to them by showrunner Earlybird. Poingdestre’s case is currently being tried in an ongoing criminal trial, with her attorney leveraging an argument colloquially known as “the AI made me,” part of a series of attempts to establish legal precedents regarding predictive algorithms and their role in radicalisation, user influencing, and group behaviour. [7]

See also

References

  1. Nakahara, S. (April 2048). “Fake Room Confessions: The Real Story of AYFR.” The Guardian
  2. Pasquale, K; King, K. (December 2047). “ARE YOU FOR REAL? SEASON FINALE!” Are You Fan Really? The Euphoria Fancast! 
  3. Billings, M. (February 2048). “Can A Game Make You Cry? One AI-Loving Designer Says Yes.” Ninjaku
  4. White, Z. (January 2049). “Ten secrets of the Are You For Real? mansion.” Entertainment Weekly
  5. Rivers, P. (December 2047). “Euphoria Inquest: CEO Admits Network ‘Probably’ Needs Psychologists.” San Francisco Times
  6. Tungsten, F. (March 2049). “What happens when a California court puts an AI on trial for murder?” The Hollywood Reporter
  7. Tisdale, S. (September 2049). “Cupoid’s Arrow murder trial to be closely watched by Big Tech.” Ars Technica