As a student in England back in the 1980s, I remember it seemed on Saturday nights as though the whole country was watching a TV show called Blind Date. The premise of this show, presented by the popular Cilla Black, was that three singles of the same sex were introduced to the audience. They were then asked a question by a single of the opposite sex, who could hear but not see them, to choose with whom to go on a date.
After an amusing series of questions accompanied by an equally funny and sometimes naughty commentary by an unseen narrator, the couple picked an envelope naming their destination. The next week’s episode would show the couple on their date, and carry interviews with them about the date and about each other.
This encouraged my lifelong love for pleasure derived from another person’s petty misfortune, especially when said people have walked into the danger fully aware of the possibility that they will end up looking silly. It’s probably a terrible thing to admit, but there it is and you, dear reader, know you share it.
Nowadays I get my fix of this feeling every Sunday night, when along with the millions of South Africans who have access to DSTv, I can be found watching the country’s hottest and often most scandalous dating show, Date My Family.
The show describes itself as helping “singletons find love by sending them on dates with their potential partner’s family.” As the show’s tagline suggests, Can you really trust your family [and often closest friends] to help you find love?
I find it essential to have a bowl of popcorn and my Twitter app open and tuned into the hashtag #DateMyFamily to follow the show’s unofficial but absolutely necessary running commentary by the Twiteratti. The popcorn is to stave off Pavlovian hunger pangs brought on by watching people eating, and Twitter helps me follow what one TV critic recently christened, CSI:Twitter, because people who know the characters on a particular episode often reveal their hidden truths online, which just adds to the juiciness of the show.
One character got tongues wagging for referring to himself in the third person, his “borrowed” accent and several contradictions of his own narrative. Viewers and the Twitterati skewered him to the point where, a few days after the show was screened, he took to YouTube and the press to respond to critics who accused him of giving “alternative facts” on the show.
The appeal for me, and I suppose many others, on the show, is not so much the romance of finding partners on TV, but more the car crash theme of shows such as this.
I just don’t get how people will go on this show or any other reality show and expose themselves to the ridicule, etc, but I thank them from the bottom of my heart for the entertainment.