The most beautifully awkward show in the world right now is Date Night Live, a Lifetime series in which (mostly) single people across the country endure the bliss, uncertainty, disappointment and confusion of a blind date, played out in real time.
In the four episodes that have aired, including Thursday night’s, a pattern has emerged among the daters: no one really knows what they’re doing. There’s no elaborate concept. Rather than your typical reality “contestant,” all the embarrassing behavior on Date Night Live comes from real people, and since the action happens in real time, there’s nothing to be over-produced like, say, the Bachelor franchise. We are literally just watching people go on dates. It’s a reality-TV Rear Window for our times.
The series pairs a variety of single people together in different cities—a nice range as far as race, sexuality, background, occupation, etc., from serial daters to longtime singles, those who are looking for a life partner and those who’ve had a hard time finding dates. So far, two women in different episodes have asked “Are you gay?” to the men on their dates because they say they’ve wound up dating a lot of gay men.
This poor woman Desiree went out with a podcast host who waited until the middle of the date to tell her he’s in an open relationship with his girlfriend of a year-and-a-half. Here’s her reaction, from an earlier episode.
Then in last night’s episode, Desiree got a do-over date, a sensual pizza-making experience with a lothario named Gino in New York. Her first question to him: “You’re a hundred percent available, correct?”
The blind daters are introduced via audition tapes, while the hosts switch back and forth between different dates throughout the night, over the course of two hours—which you, the viewer at home, can keep on in the background because that’s a long time to be watching people on dates. In the middle of the blind dates, the candidates occasionally give the camera/producer a synopsis of how they’re feeling, in a moment of viewer commiseration.
Real people are legit boring, but they are also characters on their own without all the orchestration. Here’s an absolutely mundane clip of Anthony, a virgin, talking about the foods he’s allergic to: chocolate, ice cream, tree nuts, almonds, cashews, walnuts, peanuts, chestnuts...
After this scene, host Michelle Collins (formerly of The View), with her comforting mix of humor and empathy, wonders, “Do you think Anthony has any joy in his life?”
In theory, dates should be fun; in reality they’re awkward to the highest, most uncomfortable degree, and the only way to capture such misery and boredom is to actually show it. So of course this leads to moments of long silence and staring on the show.
But the commentators—Collins is joined by Z100 host Bethany Watson and relationship coach Paul Brunson—do well at breaking the silence with critique and also help to make this whole process feel less strange and creepy (though it will feel that way anyway). There’s a loose, very Watch What Happens Live! vibe to it all.
If this sounds like your thing, then congratulations, you’re an award-winning voyeur, but also there’s a lot to be learned from the simple act of observing humans as they try to be a version of themselves in hopes of finding love or a version of love. It’s not that difficult to distinguish the well-paired couples from the ones with no chemistry—although it often doesn’t feel that way when you are the one on the date.
Is it me or does Aaron, below, not seem that into his conversation with Madison, a publicist who tells him she’s gone on over 146 or so dates in about a year, all of which she chronicles in a blog?
“I hate first dates. I think they’re so awkward, but I feel like I do want to meet somebody and no one’s gonna come knock on my door and find me,” says Madison, explaining the concept of dating.
Here’s the moment a lotto winner tells his date that he won the lotto. She appears to love money and to be impressed that he’s a lotto winner.
I cannot stress the awkwardness of this all, so the scene below should do the job.