October 01, 2020
While we know it’s incredibly empowering (not to mention cost-effective and fun) to host your own dating show, what is it like to be a contestant on Serena Kerrigan’s Let’s Fucking Date (LFD)? Modern society is no stranger to dating on television, but those contestants are physically together on the show (well, for the most part). As Jonah Feingold said, “it’s all about the ‘cuddle chemical’” when dating. Sure, Zooming is cool, but it “lacks the true “X factor” of chemistry that meeting someone in real life is able to offer.” So, how authentic can you really be if you’re experiencing your first date with a stranger in front of a live audience, and how well can you really get to know your date? Naturally, I took to Instagram and DM’ed a few of LFD’s Season 1 contestants to find out (are you sensing a pattern here?). Here’s what I found out.
When he first appeared on the show, Ben dazzled the LFD audience with his intelligence (a neuroscientist!) and approachable, boy-next-door vibe. However, when he returned to the show for a DIY-sushi date, the live-stream comments were less than complimentary and the date essentially tanked before it could really get underway. What happened?
“You can’t cook and film, so finding an activity that allows you to cook, chat and still remain watchable for an audience was a real challenge. Every date idea I had, they said no to” Ben told me over FaceTime. “The sushi date was a horrible idea for the platform, but a great idea for in person. It was meant to keep us sitting still, but [Serena] kept moving around and the whole thing was a mess.” Aside from the poorly executed activity, the conversation between Ben and Serena was noticeably stiled when compared to their first date. When I asked Ben how the first date went, he said that the conversation flowed normally once it got going, but he had been quite nervous beforehand.
“By nature, it’s a show that’s meant to entertain,” he said. “The questions were designed around that [on the first date].” Yet, on the second date, Ben found that the questions were geared more toward his personal life and dating history. “I tried to open up and be myself, but it was just a show — it was hard to be honest and not be met with the same level of vulnerability.” When I asked Ben whether or not he regretted the date, he shook his head. “Was it embarrassing? Yes, but I wouldn’t take back the experience. I’ve learned that this method of virtual dating didn’t get my personality across, but I also learned [by reading the comments] that people are so quick to polarize and operate from snap judgements formulated on little information — especially information that is cultivated for a ‘show’ environment.”
Ben chuckled a little when I asked him this question, stating matter of factly that the encounter has actually made other dates much easier for him. In his opinion, “I’m glad for the experience because there are some things I need to work on but I’m also glad there are certain things I don’t like [in a potential partner]. Because the date went as poorly as it did, I’ve started acting on red flags that I see in people. In other words, there are a lot of people that I go on first dates with, but not a lot of people that I go on third or fourth dates with.”