Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

TelevisionJanuary 30, 2022

Ranked: All the hornbag energy from the animals in The Mating Game

Image: Tina Tiller
Image: Tina Tiller

She’s just a girl insect, standing in front of a boy insect, asking them to shag her.

We are all animals floating on the great ark of life, but some of us have more two-pronged penises than others. Welcome to The Mating Game, TVNZ 1’s new nature series that captures the extraordinary lengths the world’s animals will go to to get lucky. Sir David Attenborough talks us through all the creature sex, reminding us that the end goal of the mating game is to create a new generation. This is the circle of life, friends, and you can keep your smutty jokes to yourselves.

Just kidding. If you want smut, then The Mating Game is one hour of prime time television filled with animals rooting in a variety of fascinating, often enlightening ways. Perhaps you’re taking notes. There’s no judgment here, for we could all learn a thing or two from the argus pheasant, who makes the effort to tidy up before he tries his luck with his lady friend. It’s the little things that make a difference.

The Mating Game confirms that every animal is a hornbag, even the ones at the bottom of the ocean. Let’s take a closer look at some of the show’s more memorable shagging strategies, ranked in order of hornbaggery. Yes, it’s a word, Attenborough said so.

10) Zebra

Here for the right reasons (Photo: TVNZ)

If the male zebra was human, he would be on Married At First Sight. He’s toxic masculinity in stripe form, a territorial beefcake who uses those strong teeth and full lips to bite the arses of rival males, and not in a good way. Someone call John Aiken, I’ve got 20 lady zebras ready to write “leave” on their stripey parchment.

9) Topi 

On topi the world (Photo: TVNZ)

The female topi is fertile for one day each year, and the lads really make the most of it. One male topi was so distracted by all the sex that he forgot to eat and drink. Exhausted, he was eaten by cheetahs. Let that be a lesson to us all.

8) Chameleon

The look of love (Photo: TVNZ)

It’s hard to believe this quirky loner struggles to pull, but since he only comes down from the trees when he’s feeling fruity, it’s tricky to find a mate. A charming dance in front of one potential sweetheart resulted in nothing but an early night and a lonely bed. Better luck next time, horn boy.

7) Kangaroo

Mood (Photo: TVNZ)

The biggest kangaroo wins the girl, which is why kanga males spend their lives fighting each other like Hugh Grant and Colin Firth in that scene from Bridget Jones’ Diary. Luckily it’s up to the female kangaroo to decide when she’s ready to bang, while the other kangaroos watch and wait. Awkward.

6) Flatworm

Oh, behave (Photo: TVNZ)

This old charmer woos its lover with three words: two pronged penis. The joke’s on them, because every one of this flatworm species has a two pronged penis. Oh, how they must laugh afterwards.

5) Nursery web spider

I’ve had a lovely time, thank you (Photo: TVNZ)

An absolute slag and cunning as hell, the male nursery web spider is so desperate for a root that he tricks his spidey girlfriend with the gift of a half eaten fly. “Both sides seem content. She gets a meal, he gets to mate,” Attenborough says. Circle of life, right there.

4) African termite

Queen (Photo: TVNZ)

Nothing but admiration for the African termite queen, who makes one egg every three seconds. Her partner’s only job is to mate with her, she has huge ovaries and a quarter of a billion offspring, but does she complain? No. She squeezed out 10 more eggs in the time it took you to read this, and if she had the energy, she’d probably live laugh love until her ovaries exploded.

3) Bowerbird

Loves a good stick (Photo: TVNZ)

Like Romeo said to Juliet: show me a hornbag and I will show you my impressive tower of sticks. The bowerbird has big stick energy, spending his days stacking twigs and his nights wooing the ladies with his hilarious impressions of other birds. He’s laughing the chicks into bed, and why not? Bird foreplay never gets old.

2) Seahorse

Giddy up (Photo: TVNZ)

These ocean equines aren’t looking for meaningless rumpy-pumpy on the seafloor. They want a partner who takes the time to get to know them, someone who enjoys watersports and long walks along the beach while they discuss the latest episode of Succession. Only when they’re both ready will the female seahorse insert 300 eggs into her boyfriend’s belly, because this is what romance looks like in 2022.

1) False garden mantis

Send my love to your new lover (Photo: TVNZ)

Some might think chewing off your lover’s head during sex is a bit drastic, but to them, we say “bon appetit, fuckers”. This insect proves there’s never a bad time for a snack, and like many busy mums, the female mantis is an expert multi-tasker. Does Mr Mantis give a shit about his noggin being nibbled off mid-coitus? Not a jot. “His abdomen will continue mating with her for several hours before all signs of life disappear,” Attenborough tells us, and thus, the bar is set. Chef’s kiss, Mother Nature.

The Mating Game screens on TVNZ 1 on Sunday nights and on TVNZ OnDemand.


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Mad Chapman, Editor
Aotearoa continues to adapt to a new reality and The Spinoff is right there, sorting fact from fiction to bring you the latest updates and biggest stories. Help us continue this coverage, and so much more, by supporting The Spinoff Members.Madeleine Chapman, EditorJoin Members

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