OPINION: Is Channel 4’s The Undateables morally wrong?

Cut to the end credits of Channel 4’s The Undateables. Now, notice the flock of teeny-tiny cupids, bobbing across the screen in baby grows and shooting their little love bows with 99.9% accuracy to be ridiculously stereotypical. The cupids annoy me, in case you haven’t noticed. But that’s not the only thing…

The very title of the show is excruciatingly sharp sounding. It’s the type of title that makes you curl up your toes and want to wrench a knife through your heart. ‘The Undatebales’ it reads. Clearly, I missed the memo where branding people – of any background – as undateable was acceptable.

But, despite small falters like these, which have flickered through not only each episode but across the seven-year series, I am always left with the same feelings when an episode of The Undateables comes to a close. I am overwhelmed with feelings of self-appreciation, understanding and above all, love.

When the 60 minutes are up and those god-awful cupids reappear, the only question of morals I can put on the spot are my own.

There is no doubt that The Undateables is morally good. While I remain strong on questioning minor aspects like the title, the content of the show is flawless. For me, no other show triggers more emotional responses than this delicate Channel 4 production.

The Undateables follows the highs and lows of individuals with challenges or learning challenges as they embark on very unique and different journeys to finding love. Take Richard for example. The series seven favourite hit a colossal stumbling block when faced with having to date outside of a five-mile radius from his house. Rich was looking for love, not travel complications.

Then there’s 2018 star Luke, who charmed his date into an uncontrollable laughing fit by shouting obscenities at passing police officers. Luke has Tourette syndrome, and it was one of many things date Charlotte adored about his personality. I can’t remember the learning difficulty Richard was diagnosed with, and perhaps that’s the point. It doesn’t really matter.

The Undateables captures a little bit of everyone when it comes to finding romance. Through the bravery of the characters we see on screen, our own concerns or insecurities about love are highlighted.

At the same time, we must remember that the show’s attention to detail saw The Undateables nominated for both BAFTA and Diversity in Media awards. Beyond the heartfelt messages on love and dating, the show does an outstanding job at bringing awareness to the disabilities that feature within each episode.

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The Undateables is both specific in its ability to focus on certain disabilities while broad with its scope of challenges that surround finding love. At a time where the media world is living in fear of causing offence, the fact that The Undatebales is so widely applauded tells you more than enough about how it is morally pure.

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