Archives for posts with tag: dating

This week I am in the same position as last week. Nothing new has come along to tickle my fancy and I am left with my habitual viewing. Thankfully, over the next few weeks there is a handful of new shows to keep me going. Years & Years looks promising and if the last few series are to go by Taskmaster has rediscovered its zeal. We UK viewers may even finally get series two of Killing Eve.

Until then though I am forced to be a creature of habit, one of which is First Dates. This is another show that has lost its innovative edge and instead felt very mainstream. This is not necessarily a bad thing so long as the viewer is still entertained. Having said that, it must also be wary of jumping the shark.

For the most part I still enjoy the show, even if I do find it slightly formulaic now. Cheesy pun introducing the couple related to their jobs, opening thoughts on why they are single, one of them gets to chat to Merlin the bartender, awkward introduction, meal, deeper revelations/sob story over mains, maybe a faux pas and/or something exceptionally sweet happens, decision of whether to see each other again.

Increasingly, it is the ones that go wrong that are worth the watch. I still remember my breath being taken away a few series ago when one half told the other they didn’t find the other attractive before even the mains had turned up, leading the dejected party to walk out whilst the other happily ate their steak and then managed to be rude to Fred (the ultimate cardinal sin).

Nothing quite so spectacular has happened this series, although there was the almost unbelievable stupidity of the guy who felt the way to secure a second date was to tell his prospective other half stories of all the times he got drunk with the lads and when she questioned whether he was boyfriend material responded with the now immortal line ‘geezers gotta geez’.

Some of the sob stories, sorry – background setting, are dull. Yes, where genuine tragedies have separated loved ones that is awful, but it feels increasingly like these are becoming the focus, rather than date itself. Some are still genuinely touching though, and all the better if there can be some positive framing.

My other frustration is the banter between the staff. Whilst it is used as a contrast to the dates and probably works for some people, for me it is a distraction from the stories we want to hear. Narratives are picked up and lost that makes them pointless – whatever happened to Sam and CeCe’s unspoken love?

But overall this is still a good way to pass the time. It needs more eccentrics (I love an older couple where both have reached the point in their lives where they are just themselves) and I have noticed a decline in LGBT couples recently. But these are minor points. It does the job, for now.

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Honest declaration: I don’t like First Dates Hotel. To me it feels like a spin-off of a bankable hit that has been done to save coming up with an alternative idea for that timeslot without having to extend the original series. Of course, that is presumably the whole point.

Yet it is so flawed in so many ways. Let’s begin with the minor details. The TOWIE style chats round the pool are manufactured and insincere. The whole point of the show is to be real and sincere – these are everyday people embarking on a date, not playing out some constructed reality TV show.

Then there’s the bizarre set up of us then following the more successful couples on a second date the next day where they take part in a random local activity. This is pure filler so the show can have less couples and therefore save on the budget. Sorry for breaking out the cynicism here but it’s true. Nobody wants to see date two. If we did, we would be clamouring for the show Second Dates.

The worst flaw though is the storyline that dominated episode one and two, where the show really tripped over into some form of Made in Chelsea territory. The love triangle between Jada, Charlie and Kaylee was unusually exploitative for a programme that is normally genteel and about restoring faith in humanity.

For the uninitiated, Kaylee was set up on a date with Kieran (a bit-part player in this pseudo soap opera) but beforehand had a flirty chat with Charlie. Both fell for each other, and, as a result, poor Kieran had a damp squib of a date with Kaylee despite ticking many of her boxes.

Now the only barrier to true love was Charlie’s date with Jada. The editors seemed to have it in for Jada. She was portrayed as blunt to the point of rudeness, shallow and domineering. Yes, she was allowed to have a call with her glamourous nanna to humanise her, but that was the only conceit to niceness she was offered, compared to the almost angelic Kaylee.

And then the unthinkable happened. Charlie fell for Jada and picked her. Kaylee, unaware she had been vanquished, put on her best war paint and battle armour and strolled into the bar to find Charlie buying his new love a strawberry daiquiri. The tears that followed were uncomfortable to watch.

This is not what we tune in for – yes we expect dates to go wrong. But to see such a crushing moment played out was horrifying. People who want this kind of drama have enough other shows to lap up. Let those of us who want to see the best in humanity have our kind, soft, cuddly programme back.