My Mate’s A Bad Date Is Here To Fix Your First Date Nightmares

Photo Courtesy of BBC Pictures.
Can you get through a date without looking at your phone? Would you ask your date to take Boomerangs of you and Snapchats of them within minutes of meeting each other? Ever forgotten your date’s name, abandoned them at the bar or interrupted them mid-sentence to demonstrate a handstand? 
If you answered no to the above then congratulations, you’re already ahead of the twentysomething nominees on BBC Three’s latest dating show. If you answered yes then be careful, because someone close to you might be about to sign you up for some deeply necessary coaching by sex and relationship guru, Oloni. 
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In new reality TV series My Mate's A Bad Date, though, Oloni is channelling all her knowledge to focus on one hapless singleton who’s having little success on the dating scene. 
Take 21-year-old Kelsie. She’s the mid-date handstand culprit who spends more time chatting with her friends on Snapchat than engaging with the date sitting in front of her. She was nominated for the show by best friend Tegan, who’s had enough of her pal’s bad behaviour – "Can’t take her anywhere" is a repeated sentiment – and with Oloni’s guidance hopes to steer her towards, well, a second date at least. 
The show's format will be familiar if you’re partial to the UK's existing roster of dating shows. First we establish just how bad the nominated bad dater is. For Kelsie, we watch as she speeds through porn star martinis before her date has taken more than a sip of his drink. Awkward selfies and a demonstration of the crab/bridge/acrobatic backbend follow shortly after. Twenty-one-year-old Khalil has a habit of calling all his female dates "baby girl" instead of their actual names because he often forgets who they are by the time he’s turned on his front-facing camera to check himself out mid-date. There’s 24-year-old Dami, who is a big fan of openly critiquing his dates' clothing and lifestyles, and Tyler, who isn’t really interested in any conversation unless it’s about her.  
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Sadly the rest of the series’ participants don’t paint an attractive picture of the Gen Z dating scene either. Consistent reference to ex-partners and the early suggestion of marriage is an odd, unsettling mix for a first date but it’s the conversational path that Lewis likes to take. Vicky, on the other hand, is very happy to walk out on someone mid-date. Though an incidental burp isn’t quite the be-all and end-all, alongside conspicuous farting and nervous (but heavy) drinking, it’s definitely getting in the way of Harriet’s quest for love, too.
Once we’ve spied on our bad daters’ unusual habits – with their best friends and Oloni sitting just around the corner, observing – it’s time for some tough love and advice from our expert. Oloni then sets each dater three tasks to follow on three dates that she has set up for them. Please don’t be on your phone, make eye contact with the person who’s talking to you, don’t leave halfway through, and so on. 
As you might expect, there’s varied success. If the challenges get too unbearable to watch, Oloni will interfere with a phone call to nudge the daters in the right direction. Whether a mid-date call is the best way to steer chronic phone users away from the very thing that’s occupying their attention, is up for discussion. No one enjoys watching their already uninterested date disengage completely while on a phone call right in front of them. Without waiters passing subtle notes on napkins or having a speedy skywriting team on call, however, this method is (for the most part) effective.
The variety of dates is a nice touch – instead of back-to-back dinners at one of the few remaining high street restaurant chains, there's bowling, farm visits and dance classes that nudge the bad daters (and the audience) out of familiarly boozy territory every now and again. More than anything, though, My Mate's A Bad Date feeds our weird fascination with other people's dwindling dating lives and the potential for happily ever afters at the same time, all packaged into easily bingeable 20-minute episodes.
My Mate’s A Bad Date is available on BBC iPlayer now
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