Netflix’s new show “Dating Around” takes “The Bachelor” and removes all the sexist, horny, attention-crazed contestants in favor of real people with their own unique personalities and quirks. It goes beyond the run-of-the-mill dating show and becomes something more insightful, similar to “Humans of New York.”
Every episode begins with a single person who was recommended for the show by a friend. This person can be of any gender, age or sexuality. That means that only a small fraction of the episodes revolve around the traditional heterosexual man in his mid-twenties looking for love. One of the sweetest and most impactful episodes of the season was by far episode four, which starred the 60-plus-year-old widower Leonard. The main person of each episode is given five blind dates. Neither party knows anything about the other, including age, political orientation and physical appearance. The only certainty is that they’ll be within approximately 15 years age of each other and of a corresponding sexuality. Each of the five first dates take place in the same locations but may end early if they go poorly.
The reason each episode is interesting is because the dates are conducted as if no camera crew is around to record them. The participants are completely genuine. They weren’t asked to spice up their personalities or act crazy like the people in “The Bachelor” are. They’re themselves and are completely willing to open up about their personal lives. One woman talked about how she moved to New York City as a teen with the hopes of becoming a famous artist and that she succeeded in that endeavor. Leonard talked about how he used to use LSD when he was younger. One woman said, “I just want to tell you, I like to be fat, I like to eat food and I like to be not socially acceptable.” In episode four, the older contestants reflected back on failed marriages, their children, those they loved and lost and how they got to be who they are today. It was like reading a human interest story.
Of course, even without the producers egging their participants on, drama sometimes ensued. In one episode, one of the dates ended in a catastrophic fight over the main dater’s failed marriage, all because she said she entered the marriage knowing she had doubts about her feelings. Leonard got in a disagreement with one woman over the nature of spirituality and religion. Some participants simply decided it wouldn’t work out and left. All of these dramatic moments seemed to come out of nowhere, just like they would on a real first date with clashing personalities.
What made this show really beautiful to watch was the artful camera work. The main dater would open the door for one date and another would walk through the other side. A conversation would begin with one person and end with someone else entirely. It was fluid, clear and gorgeously finished.
If you have time to spare and need a new show to binge, turn on “Dating Around.” If you want to fall in love with a sweet old man, turn on episode four.
Rebecca Maher is a staff writer for The Daily Campus. She can be reached via email at firstname.lastname@example.org.