First Dates has once again returned to our screens this week, and now in its sixth series it promises to be as popular as ever. As usual, we are a fly on the wall in the First Dates restaurant, able to watch people on what is described as the ‘most intense meal of their lives’. These are the people brave enough not only to go on a blind date, which is daunting enough in itself, but to allow it to be broadcast to the nation.
Recognition must be given to the participants who not only to let us watch their tentative interactions, but also often open themselves up to further scrutiny. ‘He must think I’m a right cow’, one woman concedes as she refers to the barriers she has built up around herself, whose date made excruciating viewing due to her cold exterior and blunt sarcasm.
It is easy then to relate to the participants, in their search for love. They share the same insecurities, hopes and fears as the rest of us. As a viewer we root for the couples, and the outcomes offer some heartwarming moments. The last series ended, for example, with successful couples returning to the First Dates restaurant for a Christmas special, which even included a proposal, giving hope to singletons everywhere.
Packed with double-entendres, panicked bathroom phone calls, and the charming Maitre D’ Fred’s recurring catchphrase ‘don’t be naughty!’, First Dates is both humorous and entertaining.
However, First Dates also has an emotive side. This episode saw choirmaster Jay open up about the struggles he experienced in being accepted as homosexual in the Asian community, having been brutally beaten at the age of seventeen in a homophobic attack.
What is striking about First Dates is its honesty and sincere nature. With the world of modern dating often focused on an online format, the First Dates restaurant allows for real connections to be made with like-minded people, a refreshing alternative to the superficiality and shallow nature of solely looks-based dating which is encouraged by mediums such as Tinder and other dating apps.