I’m a fan of reality TV. Not a huge fan mind, I don’t watch it religiously (in a nuns outfit) but there are a couple of shows I like to watch with my evening tea and custard creams.
Two of my favourites are MTV’s Ex On the Beach (EOTB) and Undateables. For those of you intellectual types who are above it all and would never stoop any lower than Made In Chelsea, here is a quick synopsis:
Undateables follows a handful of people looking for love. They’re matched by a dating agency and you watch their dates and relationships unfold. The show is unique because the daters have challenging conditions, such as Tourettes, Down Syndrome or Autism, which makes it difficult for them to meet people, and Undateables helps them out.
EOTB is comprised of a load of young, beautiful people, housed together somewhere idyllic and given copious amounts of alcohol so they can have a frolicsome time. The twist is that at any given moment, a dreaded Ex of one of the beautiful people will traipse out of the sea in an elaborate swimsuit and spoil all the frolicking.
In EOTB the reason they choose to hook up with someone appears to be based on one of two things; either they think that person is a ‘weapon’ or they’re using them to make someone else jealous. You can tell that there is no real connection between any of them. It feels completely hollow, like getting a compliment from someone when they aren’t looking at you. A compliment like ‘I’d like to massage your passage with my sausage’. They seem happy enough though, merrily flitting from one person to the next and selecting their prey based on who is showing the most bum cheek that day.
In complete contrast, the Undateables are looking for true love. Their goal is to meet someone they can share their lives with, someone they can give all their love to and feel loved in return. It doesn’t always work out for them, their mutual awkwardness can prevent romance from blossoming (especially because they spend 90% of their dates thinking of something to say which is a bit of a mood killer), but you can tell that they work really hard to find commonalities between them that they can build on. Once they’ve established a bond and they decide they like each other, you should see them go. They are like loved up little rockets, soaring at warp speed towards the future they’ve always dreamed of.
I adore the simplicity of it. The purity and innocence that we never get to witness anymore. In a world of snapchat filters and tinder, the Undateables takes me back to an era when people wrote love poems, held hands and took their time getting to know one another. If they don’t click, they move on without bitterness or resentment, and if they do, they fall for each other fearlessly, without a dick pic in sight.
In EOTB one of the girls ex boyfriends took another girl on a date. The girl left behind was not best pleased, but she announced with total confidence that the other girl was ‘rank’ and therefore wouldn’t stand a chance. You could see in her eyes that she wasn’t threatened. They live in a world where they believe with absolute certainty that being prettier is all that matters. You could be the loveliest person on the planet but if you had bad teeth or cellulite you’d be straight in the reject bin. It makes me wonder if the old saying ‘It’s what’s inside that counts’ is no longer doing the rounds. Maybe there’s no hashtag for it.
In the world of the Undateables, you are accepted in whatever form you come in. You may be called a ‘c*nt’ during an accidental tick, but no-one would look around to see who’d heard it. They see each other for who they are, and it feels fairer to me, because that’s the way we should be reviewed when we are looking to make a connection. Anybody can dress up, fake tan, clip in some extensions and present a pretty version of themselves, but when it comes down to it, once the cameras are switched off and the lighting fades, what’s left? Fab eyebrows won’t keep you warm at night. The Undateables know this.
As much as it’s less glossy, and the way they go about things may seem outdated, I feel like the Undateables have got it figured out. Most areas of our lives are improved by the continuous ramp up in technology, but romance isn’t one of them, in fact it’s completely killing it. And for an old romantic like me, the Undateables serve as a much needed reminder that romance might be dying, but it’s not dead yet.