Channel Sevens hit show First Dates is back tonight and, at a guess, it would have taken approximately two minutes for the heat of second-hand embarrassment to rise into watchers cheeks as they took in the stellar first episode.
The show is a voyeurs delight because the entire premise means we have permission to sticky-beak into would-be couples oft-excruciating first dates. Sometimes theyre awkward enough to make you want to spin yourself into a blanket cocoon on the couch and take a vow of silence. Other times, they're palatably sweet.
Tonight, the audience was gifted with a pleasing mix of both.
First up is Italian boy Daniel. His ethnicity is mentioned here simply because he emphasises so greatly himself – and it plays a large factor in his desire to find a girlfriend. Hes only 29 but his Italian mum, dad, cousins, nonna, nonnas cousins and so on (presumably) are putting the pressure on him big time.
Hes a a self-proclaimed nice guy. Often the self-proclaimed part can be an instant red flag, but seemingly not with Daniel. He seems like a proper Nice Guy – not that he thinks thatll do him any favours. “Nice guys finish last, I definitely believe that,” he says. “Girls generally want a bad boy and thats just not me.”
Lucky for him, his date Alex, 30, is not one of those women. Shes beautiful and good-natured and half-Italian, so Daniel is in love almost instantly.
The date goes well, but things really come alive when Daniel decides to test the compatibility waters with a dad joke.
“Do you want to hear a joke about construction?” he asks.
“Yeah, go on,” Alex says, with a big swig of her rosé.
“Ah, nevermind – Im still working on it.” Boom-tish! Except … Alex missed the joke.
“No, go!” she urges. He repeats his line: “Im still working on it.” It sails right over her head again.
“Thats the joke,” he laughs. “You missed it!”
“Oh my God,” Alex says, slowly putting down her wine.
Later, when theyre talking about their 'types', Daniel goes in for the kill and says hes drawn to some very specific features: “Italian. Light-brown hair. Light eyes. Red dress,” he says, describing Alex.
“Oh thats nice,” she says with a blush.
When it comes time to decide on whether or not a second date will happen, Daniel doesnt hesitate to say yes, and Alex reciprocates. They kiss on the cheek and go off to get shots – a promising start to any young relationship. For a moment, the future looks bright but, alas, we soon find out that, actually, Alex never returned Daniels calls in the end.
Ouch. Wheres that blanket cocoon when you need it?
Meanwhile, country bloke Brad, 47, seems sweet but shows a fairly clueless streak when he compares his date, Kelly, 39 – who seems like a lovely, normal person – to a crappy present.
After a night of somewhat forced chatter, he sums it up this way: “Shes probably not the usual girl Id go after,” he starts. “Shes a bit like a really good gift thats wrapped in brown paper. You might think, Thats a s— gift but then when you unwrap it its quite a beautiful gift underneath there.”
Frankly, we're offended on behalf of both Kelly, whos perfectly lovely, and brown paper, which is severely underrated.
Then Brad forgets her name and asks if its Katie. Or Kylie. “Nah, its Kelly,” he finally decides. Shes got no time for any of this and delivers a straight-up “no” when producers ask her if shed like to go on a second date. He seems to take it well for a minute, but then chooses to end things with this zinger:
“Thats ok. Thats cool. Thanks for the night and the conversation, I enjoyed it … Kelly, Kylie or Katie.” Safe to say they wont be seeing each other again.
Back on the other side of the Gen X fence, Rob and Jaime, both 26, arrive at the restaurant and realise they know each other because – modern love alert – he follows her on Instagram. They recognise one another, she teases him for always sliding into her DMs and they spend the evening flirting.
At the end of the night, they agree to see each other again – and while the montage at the end indicates theyre still dating, a quick stalk of their Instagram accounts tells us otherwise. And if its not on the Gram, did it ever really happen?
Last – but most certainly not least – is Dino, whos 33, deeply spiritual and a male model. Hes also a gentleman, which we know for sure because he tells us and his date, Kahla, about 357 times.
“I believe I am a gentleman, whether it be opening a door for a lady, or making sure her hair is ok," he tells us at the beginning of the night. Lucky for all of us, Kahla's hair is perfect and Dino's assistance is not required.
Before dinner, Dino asks Kahla to dance. In a brightly-lit room. With barely any music. With a million other confused diners watching on. Kahla is game and gives it a go, but it's terrible for the rest of us.
After dinner, Dino takes things up a notch. “How do you define seduction?” he asks, followed by: “Give me your fingers.” He proceeds to demonstrate how hed seduce her physically and you just know with every fibre of your being that Kahla is fighting the urge to reclaim possession of her hand.
When an awkward silence ensues, Dino tries to put an end to it with: “Do you like cuddling?” There will be no second date.
Genevieve Rota is the PM Digital Editor for Entertainment at Fairfax Media.
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