To be fair: The show isn’t as grotesque as it first seems.
The upcoming Netflix dating series, Dated and Related, raised eyebrows into the next level of the stratosphere when the platform announced * that * title. Listen, we’ve proven suckers for all of Netflix’s dating gimmicks: fall in love without ever seeing your partner; go on dates while you’re wearing prosthetics to look like monsters; vacation with a bevy of hot singles but — if it’s even humanly possible! —don’t have sex. Yet is this new series’ title suggesting… incest ?!
A trailer released Thursday was clarifying, but it still proclaimed that Dated and Related should be “the most awkward dating show in history.” The narrator takes such glee in that superlative. Having now watched the footage, I’m not so sure this is a good thing.
The premise of the series is that requisite “hot singles” (Netflix has tapped into a seemingly endless supply) travel to a villa in the South of France, all hoping to find love. The catch: All their siblings are there, too — and they’re also looking for “the one.”
Is having a brother or sister there looking out for your best interest, vetting out the red flags and helping you make a connection, a welcome, healthy thing? Are they going to be raging cock blocks any time you try to hook up? Or are they just going to be in the corner vomiting after watching you engage in a sloppy, drunken makeout session by the pool — something no sibling should have to see?
The whole thing is mortifying. There’s no thrill in the second-hand embarrassment. The cringe of it all isn’t “so painful it’s fun.” It’s queasy and upsetting and, as has increasingly become the case with these kinds of shows, so gimmicky you question whether any of it — be it the hook-ups or the sibling blow-ups — are authentic.
The immediate question that one would ask about a show this ludicrous— “Who in the hell would agree to do this?” – didn’t always have such an obvious answer. But as trashy dating series have metastasized into a lucrative cottage industry for average hotties aspiring to be influencers from whatever vaguely altruistic origin there may have been, the answer has become obvious: money and attention.
In the trailer, there’s footage of the cast posing seductively by the poolside, as if they’re filming the opening credits for a Baywatch reboot, and as if you couldn’t catch me dead before I would do that in view of my siblings.
The show is admirably self-aware about the awkwardness, even proud of it. “This is probably the first time I’ve kissed a girl in front of my sister,” one guy says. There’s a montage of people taking uncomfortable sips of wine. One brother is seen gagging as his sister di lui kisses someone right next to him. Another threatens a guy for being disrespectful. I hate it all!
The trailer’s narrator practically screams at one point, “WHY WOULD ANYONE WANT TO DO THIS?” before pivoting to a noble motive: Finding love isn’t easy, and this might be one unexplored avenue to do it.
Sometimes, the road less traveled is closed for a reason. In this case, that reason is your sibling humping someone mere feet from you while you’re encouraged to do the same thing — all on TV. Let’s not travel there.