Cougars Seek Gen Z Men on Hulu Dating Show Back in the Groove

That holiday destination is Cougar Town.

In the new Hulu dating series Back in the Groove (new episodes scheduled for release December 5-8), three women in their 40s are dating men half their age. The series is appropriately hosted by Taye Diggs, who played a younger man who dated Angela Bassett in the movie How Stella Got Her Groove Back.

“I had a few fears,” Atlanta-based beauty entrepreneur Sparkle Hyche, 43, told the Post of her time on the show.

“I thought maybe they were immature. Or I thought maybe some guys are looking for sugar mommies,” she said. “But a lot of the guys there were quite ambitious. The conversations weren’t much different than the ones I would have with men my age. I think they’re more outgoing than guys my age.”

Sparkle Hyche arrives "Back in the groove."
Sparkle Hyche on “Back in the Groove”.
A group of men stand by a pool.
The younger men are waiting to meet the three women in their forties in Back in the Groove.
The beaches of the Dominican Republic have been the scene of many dates "Back in the groove."
The beaches of the Dominican Republic have been the setting for many of Back in the Groove’s dates.
Brooke Mora is sitting on a couch.
Brooke Mora on Back in the Groove.

As an added twist, one of the other ladies, Miami-based singer Stephanie Michaels, 41, has a 22-year-old son, Steven, and secretly brought her with him while he was filming the show – hiding him among the male contestants so he could spy on them.

“I was a little nervous, so I figured he’d be there as my support,” Michaels, 41, told The Post. She is currently cancer-free, but five months before the show she was terrified of breast cancer and a double mastectomy.

“He wanted me to have fun because he saw me suffer so much before the show,” she said of her son. “Steven is… like my little brother and my best friend. I was hoping he would let me know what the boys were saying [behind my back]. Because I was very sensitive to my image, I still struggled with physical issues [after the cancer scare].”

Stephanie Michaels arrives and continues talking to the hotel staff "Back in the groove."
Stephanie Michaels arrives and talks to the hotel staff about “Back in the Groove”.
The three women in their 40s at Back in the Groove: Stephanie Michaels (left), Brooke Mora (middle) and Sparkle Hyche (right).
The three women in their 40s on “Back in the Groove”: Stephanie Michaels (left), Brooke Mora (middle) and Sparkle Hyche (right).
Brooke Mora joins them "Back in the groove."
Brooke Mora joins “Back in the Groove”.

In addition to Michaels and Hyche, the third woman is personal trainer Brooke Mora, 42, from LA. “Back in the Groove” follows the trio as they check into The Groove Hotel in the Dominican Republic and flirt with a group of two dozen men, all in their 20s to early 30s. Every night they select men to send packing until every woman has a choice.

“It’s typical for me to date my age. This is the first time I’ve been with someone much younger,” Hyche said. She’s also the mother of a 21-year-old son (she’s been divorced for 15 years) and said it helped.

“As cheesy as that sounds, I guess I’m the cool mom,” she said. “So I knew all the jargon. I honestly didn’t feel any separation [talking to younger guys]. I think I’m energetic and dynamic. And the guys were mature for the most part. At least they were at their best when we were around.”

The group of men in their 20s and early 30s "Back in the groove."
The group of men in their 20s and early 30s on “Back in the Groove”.
Brooke Mora drinks on a couch.
Brooke Mora on Back in the Groove.
Sparkle Hyche on "Back in the groove."
Sparkle Hyche on “Back in the Groove”.

Mora is used to being part of May-December couples, so she had no reservations about the show, she said. “A lot of men my age and older have been married and have families and don’t want to do that again,” she said. “I wasn’t married and I still want a family. So I tend to lean towards a younger, athletic, gorgeous guy. They are entering this phase in their lives and I am in this phase too. Boys my age and older want to have fun and not be pressured.”

“However, there were a couple of guys who were just kids,” Mora said. “It was very clear that I wasn’t going to waste my time getting to know her.”

The three ladies up "Back in the groove:" Sparkle, Stephenie and Brooke, right.
The three ladies on “Back in the Groove”: Sparkle, Stephanie (middle) and Brooke.
A hotel pool.
The Groove Hotel on Back in the Groove.
Taye Diggs is standing on a beach.
Taye Diggs hosts “Back in the Groove”.

All the ladies were “staggered,” as Hyche said, by the revelation that one of the men was secretly Michael’s son.

“I had established a connection with [her son] Stephen,” she said. “Even though he was very young, he was sweet and chivalrous and very funny. When Stephanie told me it felt a little weird and a little awkward. But the more [Steven and I] hanging out, the nicer it felt.”

For her part, Mora didn’t believe it at first. “Stephanie is a prankster,” she said. “When she told me, I was like, ‘Shut up!’ Never in my wildest dreams did I think this would be a plot twist.” Cougars Seek Gen Z Men on Hulu Dating Show Back in the Groove

Emma Bowman

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