Crowd-source your girlfriend

Posted on 01/04/2011

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Saturday night is date night and has been since, well, forever. TV knew this and for anyone who’d not found a partner for the evening, she deigned to give us the show “Blind Date”. Each week, three contestants were asked questions by a potential suitor, but to make it a proper blind date they were hidden from view until the last minute. Based on their answers the suitor had to pick one to spend a romantic weekend with, usually resulting in a pretty unlikely coupling.

Blind date’s been off our screens for several years but now there’s a new show to fill the void in our Saturday evenings. Take Me Out is an revised/ genetically engineered version of the date night format for a new age (read Tim Dowling’s review). Gone is the wonderful dramatic irony of seeing a hottie pick a nottie (the audience could see everyone, unlike the contestants), and in have come the red lights… literally and figuratively.

The shows are only separated by a few years, but they’re hugely different. Here’s how take me out illustrates the changes of the past few years:

Turned on or turned off

Each of the female contestants gets 3 opportunities to turn off their red light, showing that she’s not interested. The slightly seedy red lights say something about whether you’re putting out or not. Obviously it’s great to live in an age where either sex can be the pursuer, but there is something slightly desperate about it. This could have something to do with the SATC inspired pursuit of finding “the one”.

The show also deals with absolutes- it’s all about being turned on or turned off. When it comes to attraction in 2011, there is no in between.

Crowdsourcing

Why have only three contestants when you can have 20? Take me out now has a panel of 20 women, replacing the 3 invisible contestants. When one finds a date another steps in to take their place. It’s a bit like deal or no deal- they’ll all get their chance. Meanwhile, the guys almost can’t fail to get a date. In a world where you;re connected to more people, there’s more chance of finding a match. Assuming you can filter them out from all the rest…

No secrets

The “blind” part of the date has gone (perhaps why they changed the title…) and now appearances are the deciding factor in the show. After all, if you can’t see them how can you possibly date them. We live in a time when our identities are extremely public, so why hide what you look like? There are no mysteries any more.

From 15 seconds of fame to 5 microseconds

The “chase” has been cut down to fit in more rounds (which means more male suitors) and their weekend away now lasts a mere 12 hours.

We want more, and more often. With so much choice on offer we’re a society that’s less likely to give something a second chance. If it doesn’t seem to work we want to swap it, asap. Our lives have become a lot  more impulsive, and with more choice available we can afford to make snap decisions.

Who wears the trousers?

200 years ago it was men who chased. That’s now changed and it’s completely accepted that both sexes are on the prowl. Take me out goes to the other extreme- the women are the suitors and the guys are the ones putting on the show. Does this mean women are the ones who know what they want and men will settle for what they can get?

Have people fundamentally changed or do TV execs just think we have? Let me know what you think below.

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Posted in: Culture, Media, Reviews