"Shawn and the Real Girl" is the twelfth episode of Season Six. A contestant on a reality TV show in the style of The Bachelorette lands in a coma after a car crash. Immediately Shawn deduces it was no accident, so he and Gus go undercover as two new contestants. Shawn thinks that the culprit is after the show's bachelorette until his main suspect is nearly killed, and he starts to question the culprit's motive.
We come up on Melinda (Lindsay Sloane), the "bachelorette" on a reality TV show called "Paths of Love", handing out "heart necklaces" to her remaining eligible bachelors. Just as she is about to hand a necklace to Todd Kramer (Greyston Holt), signaling his chance to stay on the show, we learn that Todd has gone missing in a car crash.
At the SBPD, we learn Lassiter has received photos of Todd's accident. Shawn looks at them and thinks there is some foul play at hand. Steve Rollins (Lochlyn Munro), the show's director, approaches Shawn and tells him he thinks foul play was involved too. He asks Shawn and Gus to drop by set to investigate. Steve explains that "Paths of Love" is show where eligible men compete for the affections of Melinda, a woman each contestant has crossed paths with in the past but has never actually met.
Shawn tells Steve that he and Gus can help figure this out, but only on one condition: that they go undercover on the show as bachelor contestants themselves.
That night, Hilton Fox (Wayne Brady), the host of the show, announces two "twists" to the show... just then, Shawn and Gus walk out wearing suits and heart necklaces, signaling to Melinda that these are her new bachelors.
Jay Gianukos (Greg Grunberg), the show's investor, and Melinda are less than jazzed about the addition of Gus and Shawn to her bachelor pool. Steve affirms that Shawn and Gus will be stars and will make for great TV, but Jay isn't so sure.
Just then, Juliet and Lassiter show up to further investigate Todd's car crash. Shawn tries to hide from Juliet the fact that he is on a reality dating show undercover, but she figures it out pretty quickly and keeps a watchful, and possibly jealous, eye.
Shawn and Gus believe the culprit is on the inside. During a mix and mingle session with Melinda and her bachelors by the pool, they get a sense that the culprit may be one of the bachelors named Mario (Mike "The Miz" Mizanin), a threatening hot-head, acting outwardly angry toward the contestants who are getting closer to Melinda than he is.
Shawn and Gus quickly discover Mario is clean, but in the bag of shy contestant Danny (Derek Richardson), they find a pair of greasy gloves – gloves that could have been used while cutting the break line on Todd's car.
From there, Shawn and Gus visit the control room to look at footage of Danny in the last 24 hours. Shawn alerts Juliet about Danny, and they bring him in for questioning. But they end up finding nothing concrete enough to arrest him on. But Shawn believes he can get Danny to confess on his own. Shawn gets Melinda to keep Danny on the show over Mario by revealing he found a picture of Mario's girlfriend in his things. Melinda is devastated that Mario has a girlfriend and therefore has no choice but to choose Danny.
Shawn and Gus watch Danny grilling by the pool. Shawn "envisions" a loose gas cap on the grill and immediately rushes to Danny's rescue before he is engulfed in flames. And from there, Shawn and Gus are able to clear Danny's name.
Somebody else is trying to kill our bachelors, and Brody (Corey Sevier) leaves the show upon learning that his life is in danger. Later, Shawn sees Jay making a pass at Melinda and finds it very suspicious. That, added with Jay kicking Juliet and Lassiter off set makes Shawn believe that Jay is the culprit.
Melinda chooses Shawn and Gus to go on a "group date". Throughout the date, Shawn tries to get Melinda to admit to having an affair with Jay. She denies it, but Shawn has Lassiter and Juliet interrogate Jay after it is made known that Jay has the show "insured through the roof," giving him possible motive to sabotage and collect. Juliet and Lassiter ask to see the insurance policy, but Jay tells them he already sold the show to NBC. Lassiter asks to see proof of this. It turns out that Jay was lying about selling the show to NBC, so Juliet and Lassiter have cause to arrest him.
Meanwhile, Melinda has to choose between Gus and Shawn on the group date. She decides to choose Shawn over Gus. We then cut to a devastated Gus sitting in the limo, taking the ride of shame home, fighting back tears for getting booted off the show.
Later, Shawn is still on the date with Melinda, and the subject of her unrealistic expectations for love comes up. She says this attitude stems from her college years and refers to a handful of letters she used to receive from a secret admirer. She reads a direct quote from one the letters to Shawn and Shawn immediately flashbacks to Danny saying that exact same quote. From there, Shawn knows that Melinda and Danny truly belong together, and that their missed connection could be missed forever if Melinda never finds out that it was Danny all along who she should be with.
We come up on Steve's editing bay the morning after the date. Shawn has gathered Gus, Lassiter and Juliet to show them how the rest of the date with Melinda played out the night before. On the monitor we see Shawn telling Melinda he has a girlfriend. He then reveals to her that it was Danny that wrote her the letters, and from there, Danny and Melinda are united at last.
Just as we are seeing this play out on screen, we notice a jumpcut in the edit, meaning that someone had gone through the raw footage and suspiciously taken pieces out.
Shawn gets Steve to show them the raw footage that had been edited out, and sure enough, the cameraman Hank (Tyronne L'Hirondelle) is seen tampering with the grill right before Danny started to use it. It was Hank all along who was trying to sabotage the show by killing off its contestants. Shawn then realizes that Hank is currently shooting the proposal scene with Danny and Melinda on a plane taking them to skydive, and that they are in serious danger.
They arrive while the plane is about to take off. Once they get the plane to stop, Shawn tells everyone what really happened, saying that Hank was the one who had come up with the idea for the show first. And when he handed it over to Jay, Jay cut Hank out of the profits, thus creating a reason for Hank to sabotage the show. Hank is then arrested and Melinda and Danny are saved.
We end on The Paths of Love Reunion show with Hilton Fox showing clips of Shawn's best moments from the show. At the very end of the reunion special, Hilton announces that Todd is out of the coma and is alive and well. When Melinda sees Todd, she hugs him hard for a moment, making Danny pull her arms off of him.
Shawn confesses to Juliet that it's reassuring for him to know that she'll be by his side. However, she's distracted by Todd giving her a flirty look, Shawn admonishing, "Jules!"
Melinda [after being introduced to new contestants Shawn and Gus]: Can I still choose Todd?
Fox: Todd is in a coma.
Melinda: I know. Can I still choose him?
Melinda: Shawn, you are a very... odd person. One minute, you're witty and sarcastic and smart, and the next you're like a six-year-old looking for a popsicle.
Shawn: [confused] We don't have any popsicles. I checked... [realises] I see what you mean.
Fox: Now those of you that caught the last episode, you know that Shawn had a hand in playing Cupid.
Shawn: Oh, what can I say? I love making love. Especially on television.