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‘Dating Around’: The True Dating Reality Show

For a society that’s obsessed with love and dating, you’d think movies and TV shows would show more accurate depictions of love and dating. Rom-coms and competitive reality dating shows are constantly premiering. While seeing couples endure high-stake situations can be entertaining, seeing couples grow in natural settings can be just as charming.

What is “Dating Around”? 

On Valentine’s Day Netflix released a new series called “Dating Around” in which six singles venture through five blind dates in New York City. The ultimate goal: having a second date. But with no commentary to gain insight, figuring out whom you’ll go with (if you go on a second date at all) can be a mystery. With only six episodes, it’s easy to binge-watch the show in one sitting. 

Diverging from the norm

“Dating Around” strips away all the gimmicks and games usually present in reality shows in order to show genuine human connections. 

There’s no host. There’s no fancy intro. You never hear commentary on the single’s type or even how they think the date is going. The only information you get is in the episode’s opening scene when the single’s getting ready, and a voice-over of a close friend or family member plays in the background, describing the single’s character. 

Throughout the show, I found myself focusing more on the singles’ body language. I kept on trying to predict which date was the best match. Who had the best connection? I was using my amateur knowledge of psychology to try and guess what was going through their minds. As someone who tends to psychoanalyze, I loved every second of it. 

You never question whether or not the date is staged while watching the show. You just accept that it is. You feel like you’re sitting right next to the pair (third-wheeling, of course). The intimacy transpires through the screen and you can’t help but keep on watching. 

Diverse characters 

“Dating Around” showcases a more diverse cast (if they can even be considered a cast) than any other reality show. Each episode offers a variety of ethnicities, sexualities, personalities and even ages. The blind dates are equally diverse to match, providing each single a diverse array of suitors to choose from. Notably, many of the women in the show were unapologetically true to themselves, providing a fun display of bold personalities. 

Swaying away from reality shows’ typical age group, episode four centers around Leonard, a seventy-year-old Bronx native. Despite his elderly status, he remains spunky and smiling the entire episode. Watching him search for love again, three years after the death of his wife, was one of the most adorable things I’ve ever seen. Naturally, old-school Leonard was a gentleman on each date. Hearing him and his dates discuss their life experiences made me feel like I was talking to my grandparents. 

There’s also Gurki, an independent 37-year-old Indian woman with an alluring openness as she seeks a match after divorcing young. While many of her dates were receiving to her untraditional past, there was one instance that highlighted the kind of blind date we all fear. 

*Warning: spoiler alert ahead* 

The culture clash was evident throughout her date with 34-year-old Justin. Gurki opened up about the pressures within Indian culture to marry. As a result, she ended up agreeing to marry a man she had doubts about marrying. Instead of showing sympathy, Justin attacked Gurki, declaring “How could I trust you?” after accusing her of lying at the altar. Unsurprisingly, the date did not last much longer. 

*End of spoiler*

The series also featured two episodes featuring homosexual couples. Centering on the 36-year-old self-declared “gaysian,” Lex. Episode three included various coming-out stories and the struggle of getting into a relationship as a gay man. 

“They like the idea of a relationship, but, then when it comes to actually dating, no one wants to date.” 

While the singles had varying success rates, the diversity of options allowing them to gain insight to other cultures was refreshing to witness. 

Finding that “spark” 

With no commentary to rely on, you’re forced to rely on daters’ body language to predict who’s connecting with who. You find yourself asking “Does she really like him or is she just being nice?” Sometimes, the people you swear are going to end up going on another date together, don’t. In “Dating Around,” not knowing plays into the fun of it all – and it’s even more fun to watch with friends. While watching, I found myself really hoping that each single would find someone they’d connect with. I wanted them to find love. 

In episode five, as quirky 25-year-old Sarah divulges the toxicity in her previous relationship, her receiving comments like “your brain is so sexy” and “you’re one of the most interesting and beautiful people I’ve ever met,” made my heart swell. 

However, it’s pretty obvious that not everyone is going to be a match. The connection may just not be there. The spark will be missing. While “Dating Around” showcases how fun dating can be, it also shows how frustrating it can be as well. Not necessarily because you and your date didn’t get along, but if there’s nothing there, there’s nothing there. And that’s okay!  

In episode one, one of the singles closes the date by saying, “I don’t think we’re soulmates, but … I had an amazing time with you, and I know we’ll be friends.” 

It really showcased how blind dates aren’t always an opportunity for romantic relationships to develop, but they can form platonic relationships as well. 

The authenticity of “Dating Around” intrigued me from the first episode. After finishing, I can honestly say that it was one of the most insightful reality shows I’ve ever watched. My only complaint: Netflix, you need to make more. 

Lauren Rousseau is a senior editor for Her Campus UFL. She's also a junior journalism major at the University of Florida, and her writing has appeared in Rowdy Magazine, WUFT News and the Independent Florida Alligator. When Lauren's not starring at a phone or laptop screen, she enjoys starring at her screen even more by watching ridiculous reality television. When all else prevails, catch her baking and listening to music.
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