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Dating in the Dark is Deeper Than You Might Think… At Least That’s What I’m Telling Myself

August 13, 2009

ABC aired its newest dating reality show, Dating in the Dark, a few weeks ago. When I first read about the show I thought, “wow, I did that for years.” When I read a little further, I realized that the title was not a figure of speech, but that couples would literally be dating in darkness.

It is a fantastic premise and sociological experiment… and I am a fan. I’m hooked, well, because it’s summer and there is nothing else on television, but also because ABC is successfully executing a concept that in the wrong hands (I’m looking at you FOX) could have been trashy.

But who is surprised? With all due respect to VH1, I think we can all agree that ABC is the foremost authority on dating shows. After all, they did develop the quintessential reality dating series several years back with The Bachelor.

After I saw a picture of ABC’s latest bachelorette, Jillian Harris, on YAHOO! I assumed that Dating in the Dark was a recycled premise or a twist borrowed from Harris’ season of The Bachelorette. I was wrong. It is an innovative twist to a tired genre and it works.

The show places three single men and three single women in a divided house. The only common area between the two sections is a pitch black room where the couples go on their “dates.” It sounds silly, I know, but it is fascinating. The couples talk, laugh and make, what seem to be, very real connections. All of this happens over the course of several dates in a room where you can’t see your hand in front of your face.

At the end of the show, there is a big reveal. The contestants get to view each other in the dark room via a spotlight for roughly 10 seconds. After days of dating and 10 seconds of viewing, each person has a decision to make. Any one of the singles can invite another single to meet them on the balcony and continue the courtship.

After the viewing is when the sociological experiment ramps up. However, the internal conflict doesn’t always go down the way you might think. Sure, there is always the single that fell for another’s personality only to be disappointed by that person’s appearance, but it works the other way as well. Take for example the guy who had a sensible connection to one of the single females, but was extremely attracted to her after the reveal. In the end, he walked because of religious differences that they had discovered on one of their dates.

In the end, I fear Dating in the Dark will end up in the same conversations as Joe Millionaire, For Love or Money and Married By America. However, I wouldn’t mind seeing Dating in the Dark get renewed. It actually holds my attention for a full hour week-in and week-out. Some of you might think that means I need to get a hobby, but I think that means it’s a show worth watching.

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