The 5th Wheel

The 5th Wheel was an American dating reality series that aired in syndication from 2001 to 2004. The show was initially hosted by comedian Aisha Tyler, but when Tyler left after completing the first season, the remaining two seasons were hosted in narration by announcer Tom Gottlieb.

The 5th Wheel
Directed by
Presented by
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of seasons3
Executive producer(s)
  • Jay Renfroe
  • David Garfinkle
  • Thomas Klein
  • Harley Tat
Camera setupMulti-camera
Running time22–24 minutes
Production company(s)Bobwell Productions (Renegade division)
DistributorUniversal Worldwide Television
(season 1)
Universal Domestic Television
(seasons 2-3)
Original networkSyndication
Original releaseSeptember 17, 2001 (2001-09-17) 
May 21, 2004 (2004-05-21)

The series' closing slogan was, "...where strangers become friends, friends become lovers, and lovers become bitter, suicidal exes all on the same show." However, when Gottlieb took over the show, the catchphrase was altered accordingly to say "...where strangers become lovers and lovers become bitter suicidal exes all in the same show."


The show would begin with two men and two women, all of whom were sent out on a joint date. Then a provocative 5th man or woman (hence, "the fifth wheel") would join the group. At that point the participants would swap partners to learn more about them and to decide if they would like to go out with each other. The cameras would follow their every move, while commentary in the form of subtitles, animations, and "thought bubbles" (similar to the style used in Pop-Up Video) was added by the show's producers. At the end, they would all vote on whom they would like to go out with, and an option of choosing "nobody" as well. The show was canceled in 2004.

Production notes

The series was produced by Renegade Productions, a subdivision of Bobwell Productions/Gold Coast Entertainment—the same company that produced Blind Date (which would often air before The 5th Wheel) -- but was more provocative and sexual in nature than its sister series, offering crazier and more elaborate subtitles and superimposed animated jokes which altered the appearance of the scene featuring each couple.


The 5th Wheel's credits listed veteran comedy writers Rob Dames, Vance DeGeneres, Martin Olson and Archie Gips.


Reruns were eventually aired on Fox Reality, but later was removed from its lineup. An "uncensored" version of the series without pixelated nudity or profanity censored was made available via pay-per-view and video on demand under the Too Much For TV branding of American PPV provider In Demand, and remains a part of the service's rotation several years after the show's departure from broadcast television.


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