From First Dates to a glut of new Netflix releases, TV continues to woo us with a constant stream of couples dating, marrying — and even breaking up. Indian Matchmaking will also be airing, from 16 July, following marriage consultant Sima Taparia and her clients, while Love on the Spectrum, a four-part documentary that follows young adults with autism who are looking for love, begins on 22 July.
These are shows filled with tender moments, misunderstandings and hi-jinks, but often less concerned with happy endings — most of the best-loved programmes are as much about destroying love as they are about finding it. Where TV love is concerned, the breakups are as integral to the genre as the makeups.
Dating shows always have their share of drama, but throwing a former lover into the mix all but guarantees tears, awkward silences and the airing of dirty laundry. Love is more prevalent than ever in gameshow formats, too, with shows such as Dinner Date and the recently pulled Take Me Out, Love in ashow ran for 11 series on ITV.
With each new commission, producers up the ante to fulfil our insatiable need for chaos. Blind Date was once one of the most popular shows on TV, but the comparably basic offering was cancelled after two series after its Channel 5 return in Meanwhile, more controversial series, such as Five Guys a Week, in which participants let five potential partners stay in their home as they date en masse, and Naked Attraction, are going from strength to strength.
Too hot to handle
The universal appeal of many dating shows is that they hold out the possibility that it may all go wrong, that the fantasy of true love is just that. The Spouse House saw six men and six women move into a house with the intent of finding their ever after. The two weddings filmed on the show ended in divorce.
As for Love Is Blind, the biggest shock was that any of the couples made it up the aisle at all. Naturally, rather than wait for the cracks to show, programmes are now impatiently focused on relationships where the dysfunction is already built in.
The potential for fallout is obvious. Indeed, there are still a of dating shows that have a lot of heart. The Undateables looks at dating with a disability in a warm, nuanced way, and you get the feeling that producers of First Dates are actively trying to create compatible couplings.
As with love itself, it does seem that there is a dating show for everyone. And while some viewers just love love and others simply love watching it crash and burn, we are all head over heels.
Reality checked Television. Love is on the air: why we can't get enough of romantic reality shows.
Photograph: AP. Yomi Adegoke. Thu 2 Jul Reuse this content.