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TV Review: ABC's 'Dating in the Dark'

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Two and a half stars
9 p.m., WLS-Channel 7

I am not being sarcastic when I say that I watch reality television for insights into human behavior. That and the catfights, obviously. But I think it's fascinating what we can learn from these contrived situations. If this is how people behave when they know the country is watching, how do they act when unsupervised? The mind reels.

Yes, having cameras present would affect the results of any social experiment. And yes, the kind of people who go on reality shows should count as their own species. But from a psychological point of view, the premiere of "Dating in the Dark" should not be missed.

Beyond that, you're on your own.

The premise is to answer the question, "Is love blind?" By the end of the first episode, we have a pretty good idea.

Each week, six singles spend a few days in a mansion, where they meet possible matches in a pitch-black room. That means that they can still get to know each other by talking, and - ick alert - smelling, touching, and tasting, if it should come to that.

After a couple has bonded/connected/lusted together, it's time for the Big Reveal: They finally get to see each other in the same dark room, when the spotlight shines on their faces for a few seconds, one at a time. What's far more revealing is what we can see from the night-vision camera: their hidden reactions.

You will squirm.

Three things elevate "Dating in the Dark" above the likes of "Blind Date" reruns (slightly).

The casting

So far, the producers haven't resorted to MTV-ready twentysomethings gone wild. Consider Steven, for instance. "I'm a genius," he tells the camera. "Literally. I'm in Mensa." And if that doesn't turn you on, just wait until you hear what he's looking for in a woman: "Good pheremones and a good hip-to-waist ratio." Duh.

And then there's Leni, an Australian nanny who says men respond to her sense of humor. "That, and my boobs."

The assumptions

The men compare notes amongst themselves, in a suitably male setting (black leather furniture, neon bar signs). The women, as you can imagine, indulge in slumber-party talk. It's fun to see just how far off they can be - especially when they work on a portrait of what they think the other one looks like with a police sketch artist. Talk about setting yourself up for disappointment. Note to the ladies: Prince William is taken.

The suspense

After the unavoidable shock of seeing each other's faces, they are sent back to their rooms to reflect. They must decide whether to venture out onto the Balcony of Possible Rejection, where their match could be waiting for them.

Worst case scenario? Standing on the balcony amidst the potted plants, utterly alone, watching the other person leave the premises in a car without looking back.

That's pretty good TV.

Once.

If you find yourself tuning into more than one episode of "Dating in the Dark," I am going to guess it's to watch the night-vision outtakes from the dark room. Maybe you like to watch people trip over invisible bean bags. I won't judge you.

But for me, this show is a one-night stand, not a relationship.

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3 Comments

I thought the show HAD potential until the men were going through the suitcases of the woman. The men found a pair of jeans in size 4 and one of them made a comment that 'she must be curvy'. Since when are size 4 woman curvy?? That was insulting to all woman. Why is the size of her jeans such an issue?? Maybe the show was trying to make a point to men that you can find love without knowing her size and that everyone wants to be loved, not just the skinny little things that you can drop kick.
The women looked at the TYPE of clothes they found in the men's luggage. Not one of them looked at the sizes. Why is it ok for men to be big and not women?

So,I had to watch the show ... it didn't keep my attn. But a couple new thoughts, when my daughter's now ex-boyfriend's episode airs, if the girls go through his luggage/clothing to learn anything about him, they are actually going to learn about my daughter's fashion sense since she's the one who helped him shop and pick out his clothing! He actually even wanted her to help him pick something "of meaning" to take w/ him as an object that will be shared to show something about himself.
Also, couldn't almost the same concept of dating w/o seeing eachother be done over the phone ... you'd get to know eachother by voice and conversation w/o seeing eachother.

I am fascinated by this concept of 'blind love', so to speak.

As a person who uses a wheelchair part of the time, I would eagerly be a contestant. This exercise would for sure turn some media heads. Can you imagine seeing the expression and reaction of the person (and audience) who picked the disabled person with an awesome personality? Reality shows could be more real - dating for PWD's (persons with disabilities) is a tough thing man, trust me.

Take good care.
Thaddeus

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This page contains a single entry by Paige Wiser published on July 18, 2009 4:34 AM.

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