TV

If Trash Reality TV Is Your Jam, You’ll Love Netflix’s ‘Dating Around’

Is this television Shakespearean? No. But is it better than the bottom of the barrel reality TV we get force fed? Absolutely.

Dating Around Netflix

Friends, it is MAFS season, which means our collective minds are quickly spiralling down the trash TV route (Y’all hear about Khloe’s baby-daddy dramzzz? Kris Jenner is working harder than the devil out here). Luckily Netflix’s new original Dating Around comes at a fantastic time to appease us on days that MAFS isn’t on our TV’s.

For those not being bombarded with emails and targeted ads about what to watch tonight, Dating Around is Netflix’s newest dating show, following six singles going on five first dates, and deciding at the end of the episode who they will choose to go on a second date.

The episodes are quick to get through, and the fact that it doesn’t offer anymore than what it’s offering is refreshing — no need to get invested over weeks worth of television fellow viewers, this will be over in no time.

But maybe our reality TV has spoiled us; should you bother checking out Dating Around?

Pros:

This Is What Reality TV Should Look Like!

I lied, Australian reality has not spoiled us at all. In fact, I’m of the belief that we deserve better.

This is a debate that comes up during every season of The Bachelor/ette — that the participants are nothing but various shades of beige. Reality shows by design are supposed to be a representation of our society, and Australian dating reality TV simply is not.

I’m not saying people of colour aren’t seen on our screens, but there’s a disparity between who is shown as someone who can trade off a skill and who is shown as loveable (or even fuckable).

Dating Around however not only has people who aren’t white, but also queer representation.

This is not like that season of MAFS where they found two gay men who wanted to get married and paired them together just because they were gay and not because they were compatible. It’s in no way gimmicky or with a sense of novelty. They’re there because gay people *checks notes* date around like straight people do! Wow. Truly groundbreaking stuff.

If only Australian producers recognised this.

And these discussions about representation come up within the show!

Lex, an Asian man finds a commonality and comfort with one of his dates because they’re both ‘Gaysian.’ Gerki, a Punjabi woman, openly discusses her background and upbringing where her parents got together in an arranged marriage, and the social pressures of getting married to follow cultural norms.

Is this television Shakespearean? No. But is it better than the bottom of the barrel reality TV we get force fed? Absolutely.

Masterful Editing — Really!

The dates are melded together, starting with drinks, dinner and after hours.

Instead of being introduced to each individual date one by one, you witness all the dates as they happen through each category. It gives viewers the opportunity to gauge each date against the other to see who’s working out the best — and really, isn’t that what we’re all interested in?

The episodes are only about 30 minutes, which generally tends to bug me because I’m always looking for more of something. But in this case it’s the perfect length, and there’s actually so much that fits into half an hour you don’t even feel like the dates are interrupted in anyway.

But really, the cinematography is where it’s at.

It’s like the camera crew for Chef’s Table made a wrong turn and ended up at the Dating Around set and went with it. It feels less intrusive than MAFS or The Bachelor/ette — not so much a fly-on-the-wall type of experience but rather a more inviting set-up.

I will admit though, this kind of editing is jarring to begin with and it can feel phony until you get used to it.

But really, props to the editors of this show. I was not ready for the first class flirting I was witness to.

Cons:

Missing Information

I’m not saying the episodes need to be any longer, but there’s definitely not enough background on why they’re going on these dates and why they choose who they did.

Most reality shows have that one-on-one moment between the participant and the camera crew where they give some sort of background about what they’re thinking and why they’ve chosen what they did, and Dating Around just doesn’t.

In some instances, it’s so well edited it’s disconnected from the audience — it’s far too clean and polished for trash TV.

That Date

Dating Around makes attempts at showing all the shitty people you have to get through to find The One.

But there is no date worse than the one on episode two between Gurki and a guy who I’m fairly certain wrote the book on How To Be A Fuckboy.

I say this from a place from genuine concern: if you get upset at watching cultural insensitivity play out in front of you, beware. This guy is racist, sexist, manipulative, and just a real asshole to a woman who was far nicer to him than she needed to be.

Now, depending on how you look at it this could be a pro, because let’s face it, we’re all here for the drama and an excuse to be judgemental towards strangers. And in every other episode when there were people who weren’t good dates, the judgy vibes were all just part of the fun.

This episode, however, verges on upsetting.

Sending my thoughts and prayers out to everyone who has to deal with this type of person on the regular.

So, Is Dating Around Worth Watching?

If trash TV is your jam, especially when romance is involved, 100% check it out.

There’s dancing under the moonlight, flirting in the rain, and a sweet old guy declaring ‘I hate this shit’ — truly the biggest mood.

It’s all just entertaining to watch, and as someone who hasn’t been on a first date in five years, it’s really sweet to see the cute lovey-dovey moments between two people who are having fun dating.

If however, you’re not into this type of thing then give it a miss, as this is definitely a show introduced to fill some gap in Netflix’s market, and honestly witnessing the horrors of dating life is not for the faint of heart.


Vanessa Giron is a freelance writer based in Naarm/Melbourne. She is a member of the West Writers Group with Footscray Community Arts Centre, contributor for Djed Press and critic for The Big Issue.