Share via Email The women from Girlfriends have been 'worn down by the sheer tyranny of choice'. Tim Kavanagh One of the biggest problems with TV dating shows is that our relationship with the contestants is infuriatingly brief. On Dinner Date we see them eating one, maybe two, quick meals together. On Sing Date we see them perform a single duet face to face. On Take Me Out , any early embers of attraction are suffocated by the sight of Paddy McGuinness waddling around in a circle like a constipated duck.
We never get to see the contestants go on a second date, let alone a fifth. We never see them traipse around Ikea a year in, or whine about each other's parents, or spend evening after evening silently sitting on opposite ends of their sofa, listlessly staring at their phones until they're allowed to go to sleep.
It feels as if we're missing out on the bigger picture. Things don't quite go that far on ITV2's dating show Girlfriends , but it takes us further than most.
The entire eight-part series tonight is episode five follows three young women as they whittle down a legion of eligible men, Bachelorette-style, until they're left with their one true love. It means we get to see the first rush of infatuation, just like all other dating shows, then the indecision and jealousy and awkwardness that inevitably follows.
The series started with an audition phase. The three girls — all in their early 20s, all with early onset sciatica caused by the tremendous weight of their fake eyelashes — ploughed through boy after boy like a set of backcombed X Factor judges. A hundred men passed through the first round, the girls becoming so worn down by the sheer tyranny of choice that they'd casually reject some of them with a dismissive wave for having slightly asymmetrical teeth.
Now we're at the second stage. Each girl has four boys to choose from over a series of dates — either one on one, in groups or with all the girls crowding around one hapless contender. This is where Girlfriends is coming into its own. Some of the boys are awful, and the girls know it. Some of the boys are awful, and the girls don't know it. Some of the girls are competing for the same boy's heart.
Nobody really knows where anybody stands — especially the boy who awkwardly lunged mouth-first at a girl last week, only to be rejected in such an alarmingly brutal fashion that it's bound to negatively inform every relationship he'll have for the rest of his life — and it's this complexity and uncertainty that pushes Girlfriends above similar shows.
However, for viewers to go along with this — for them to agree to watch three girls dither over which identically haired River Island model they most want to kiss for eight full hours — we need to believe that they're playing for keeps. It's fine if a Take Me Out girl doesn't click with a Take Me Out boy, because they're just sausages on a production line. But after dedicating two months of our lives to the ups and downs of Girlfriends, the whole thing had better end definitively.
Or some sort of heartfelt declaration of eternal love. I'd honestly be fine with an unexpected pregnancy. Statistically, though, that won't happen. These girls have been presented with too much choice. The audition round has conditioned them to nitpick, to always expect that something better is around the corner. Clearly this isn't the case for most of us. We don't all have attractive would-be lovers prepared to backflip for our affections. Our choices are limited.
And that's why I propose that ITV2's next dating show should be more realistic. It should be called Let's Settle. One man and one woman are chosen at random and, despite their obvious physical and emotional incompatibility, are forced to spend the rest of their lives together in a state of bleak acceptance because all their friends are getting married and they're scared of dying alone.
That'd be a ratings-winner, surely.