Dating shows aren’t a new concept, 80s dating show ‘Perfect Match’ immediately comes to mind, while more modern iterations like ‘Married at First Sight’ draws in the crowds. However ‘Dating Around’ and ‘Back With The Ex’ are different and refreshing takes on the usual dating show.
Dating Around (2019)
Dating Around is a Netflix original production, here a guy (or girl) embarks on a first date….but not any first date, but 5 first dates! In the same episode the same guy (or gal) dates 5 different people! Talk about ‘all the best’ with remembering their names….. Not at the same time though…..but through slick editing by the after-production team it presents and feels like it’s all one big first date fest!
Each episode features a brand new single looking for love, and as each ep is only 30 minutes in length, there isn’t any wasted time so the interaction and show progressions move right along! Each episode follows the same formula, i.e. friends say what a great guy or gal they are; then we finally set eyes on him or her; then we find out more about them as they meet their 5 first dates; all dates are conducted at the same restaurant which helps the magic of editing, as conversations with one date seamlessly transitions to another usually when they’re chatting about the same topic; as they dine they peel the layers of the onion back until the end of the meal when he/she suggests to kick on to a bar; if the first date is going well, their dining companion are usually more than happy to kick-on…….while a few dates had declined and parted ways after the meal; and in the final seconds of the show, it’s another day, the lead walks purposefully to a rendezvous and then you finally find out who they hit it off with and who was going to have this second date with them (then fades to black).
Dating Around is less about romance and trashiness which comes with some dating shows, but it’s more a sociological experiment which you have a front-row seat for! So if you’re one who loves eavesdropping on another couple’s dining conversation, then you’ll love this! And the show features a wide cross section of people (same sex, older demographic etc.), so it’s quite enlightening, while being confronting at times.
Back With the Ex (2018)
On the other hand, Back with the Ex is a Channel 7 Australian production, why it differs from the usual dating shows is because the couples already know each other (there are 4 couples). Not only do they know each other, but they were once girlfriend/boyfriends, some being together for as long as 6 years! But for one reason or another, they had broken up and been separated for as short as 3 years, to as long as 28 years!? What the? But for our entertainment purpose (and no doubt some sweeteners from Channel 7), one party has reached out to their ex, floating the concept of getting back together, while a video crew follows them around and films every intimate moment. Sounds interesting? Or does it sound like the most cringing viewing ever?
The couples range from a cute couple in their early twenties, to an equally cute couple in their late 40s/early 50s. And through the seven 60-minute episode series, we follow the 4 couples across a 3 week period in their lives, cameras filming them re-kindle their friendships. We’re invited in to watch them squirm through scripted scenarios like taking turns to temporarily live together at each other’s homes; meet again (or for the first time) family and friends of their ex; go out on lavish dates clearly paid for and organised by Ch7; the awkward (so awkward) drinks with all the other Exs (guys at one venue, girls at another) and have that footage replayed back to their ex, evidence of their behaviour when they’re not around; and the most exciting part for the couples (and probably the single reason why they signed onto the show) was the epic overseas trip they take together before they decide …..if they’d give their relationship another go or not.
Again, it was another interesting watch if you’re into psycho-analysing people, trying to predict if they’re genuine (and if not, if their ex could see through it), and I found myself trying to predict which couple were going to give it another shot, and who was going to crush the other’s dreams. And for one or two, they didn’t come off looking too good, not sure if being on the show might hinder their future attempts at love. I guess only time will tell.