Series Review

'Dating Around': finally, a reality show about people looking for love gets real

Netflix knows there's no extra drama needed when you put two strangers together on a blind first date

03 March 2019 - 00:08
A screen grab from the trailer for 'Dating Around'.
A screen grab from the trailer for 'Dating Around'.
Image: Netflix/YouTube

Dating is weird. It is a little like playing duck, duck goose except you're hoping to pick the right goose and all the birds are interested in rubbing up against your genitals. This is probably why we love watching reality dating shows so much.

Whether it's The Bachelor, Are You The One? or that one where everyone gets stranded on an island with an unlimited alcohol supply, watching people trying to do the mating dance is inherently fascinating.

The only problem is that with so many reality dating shows out there, the genre has definitely become a little uniform. Netflix's new reality show, Dating Around, is taking a different approach to it

The first thing you notice about Dating Around is the format. There is no host, there are no roses and most refreshingly, there are no formulaic tension-building gimmicks. Instead, one person goes for drinks with five people and winnows through them over the course of a night. We watch their conversations and chemistry (or lack thereof) and at the end, one gets chosen for a second date. No wedding ring. No romantic trip to a far-flung Pacific island. Just a second date.

The format is a little difficult to get used to at first but I guess that's what happens when you're used to a formula that prizes drama over real human interactions. It is these interactions that make Dating Around a surprisingly entertaining show.

Instead of people in an artificial environment, playing up to a template that was successful somewhere else, you see people with their unvarnished foibles trying to connect with other faulty human beings. The contestants run the gamut from a beautiful femme lesbian sifting through a range of women one could reasonably expect to meet at Kitcheners to a septuagenarian widower trying to find a balm for his loneliness.

What starts out as a slightly confusing experiment in reality television ends up sucking you in and before you know it, you are rooting for contestant A instead of D.

WATCH | Trailer for Dating Around

And the interactions are much more relatable to the average dater. There's the self-involved guy who believes his poetry is so ground-breaking that he recites it at the dinner table. There's the terrifically unattractive chap who nonetheless has a lovely personality. It really is a visual representation of a slew of Bumble excursions.

At six episodes, one of the show's strengths is its brevity. You can binge in a night without staying up past midnight.

If you like dating shows but are tired of seeing lawyers named Chad with 13 ab muscles competing for the affections of a Sarah who looks like a cardboard cutout of some antiquated beauty standard, Dating Around is a great alternative. It's weird, occasionally messy, funny, tense and awkward.

Basically every emotion you will go through when you swipe right.