This vacation destination is cougar town.
On the new Hulu dating series “Back in the Groove,” (releasing new episodes Dec. 5 through Dec. 8), three 40something women date men half their age. The series is, appropriately enough, hosted by Taye Diggs, who played a younger man dating Angela Bassett in the big-screen flick “How Stella Got Her Groove Back.”
“I did have a few anxieties,” Atlanta-based beauty entrepreneur, Sparkle Hyche, 43, told The Post about her time on the show.
“I thought maybe they’d be immature. Or, I thought some guys might be looking for sugar mommas,” she said. “But a lot of the guys there were quite ambitious in their own right. The conversations were not that much different than what I’d have with men my age. I think they’re more open-minded than guys my age.”Sparkle Hyche arriving on “Back in the Groove.” HULUThe younger men wait to meet the three 40something women on “Back in the Groove.” HULUThe beaches of the Dominican Republic were the settings of many dates on “Back in the Groove.” HULUBrooke Mora on “Back in the Groove.” HULU
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 shooting the show — hiding him among the male contestants so he could spy on them.
“I was a little nervous, so I figured he would be there as my support,” Michaels, 41, told The Post. She’s currently cancer-free, but five months before doing the show, had a breast cancer scare and a double mastectomy.
“He wanted me to have fun, because he watched me suffer so much prior to the show,” she said of her son. “Steven is … like my little brother and my best friend. I was hoping he’d let me know what the guys were saying [behind my back]. Because I was sensitive about my image, I was still dealing with some issues physically [after the cancer scare].”Stephanie Michaels arrives and talks to the hotel staff on “Back in the Groove.” HULUThe three 40something women on “Back in the Groove”: Stephanie Michaels (left), Brooke Mora (center), and Sparkle Hyche (right). HULUBrooke Mora arrives on “Back in the Groove.” HULU
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 who are all in their 20s and early 30s. Each night, they select men to send packing until each woman is left with one choice.
“It’s typical for me to date my age. This is my first time dating someone much younger,” Hyche said. She’s also the mom of a 21-year-old son (she’s been divorced for 15 years), and said that helped.
“As tacky as this may sound, I think I’m the cool mom,” she said. “So, I knew all of the lingo. I honestly didn’t feel any disconnect [talking to younger guys]. I think I’m high-energy and vibrant. And the guys were mature, for the most part. At least, they put on their best behavior when we were around.”The group of men in their 20s and early 30s on “Back in the Groove.” HULUBrooke Mora on “Back in the Groove.” HULUSparkle Hyche on “Back in the Groove.” HULU
Mora is used to being part of May-December couples, so she didn’t have any reservations about the show, she said. “A lot of men my age or older have already been married and have families, and aren’t wanting that again,” she said. “I haven’t been married, and I still want a family. So, I tend to gravitate towards a younger athletic gorgeous guy. They are starting that phase in their life, and I’m in that phase as well. Guys my age and older want to have fun, and don’t want the pressures of commitment.”
However, “There were a few guys that were just straight-up children,” Mora said. “It was very clear I was not going to waste my time getting to know them.”The three ladies on “Back in the Groove:” Sparkle, Stephanie (center) and Brooke.HULUThe Groove Hotel on “Back in the Groove.” HULUTaye Diggs hosting “Back in the Groove.” HULU
All of the ladies were “shook,” as Hyche said, by the reveal that one of the men was secretly Michaels’ son.
“I had formed a connection with [her son] Steven,” she said. “Although he was really young, he was sweet and chivalrous and a lot of fun. By the time Stephanie told me, it felt a little weird and a little awkward. But the more [Steven and I] hung out, the more comfortable it felt.”
For her part, Mora didn’t believe it, at first. “Stephanie is a jokester,” she said. “So, when she told me, I was like ‘Shut the f–k up!’ Never in my wildest dreams did I think that was going to be a plot twist.”