Cut to the end credits of Channel 4’s The Undateables. 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.
Then there’s the matter of the title. A sharp sounding, curl up your toes, wrench a knife through your heart and tell yourself it’s okay because the TV said so type of title. ‘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 6-year series, I am always left with the same feeling when an episode of The Undateables comes to a close. A feeling of warmth. I am overwhelmed with feelings of self-appreciation, understanding and above all, love.
When the 60 minutes are up and those awesome 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, you see.
Then there’s 2018 and current Series Eight 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 personalty. 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, and through the bravery of the characters we see on screen, our own concerns or insecurities on love are highlighted.
At the same time however, 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 greater awareness to the disabilities that feature within each episode.
Let’s case-study my mum. There are two reasons she will burst into tears when glued to a latest episode of The Undateables. Number one, she is overwhelmed by a character’s honest search for love. Number two, she has learnt something about a disability that she was previously unaware of. She is a big wimp may I add, but that probably isn’t the point.
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. And on that note, I may be willing to drop my issue with the cupids. Maybe.