The dating show is motivating and moving, bringing autism to the forefront. However, this well-worn format is starting to feel a little repetitive now.
This review of the Netflix series Love on the Spectrum U.S. season 1 does not contain spoilers.
All the way back in 2012, Channel 4 launched a dating show with a twist, the individuals hoping to be lucky in love in this program all had long-term conditions, including disabilities, learning difficulties, and developmental disorders. The series, awkwardly titled The Undateables, ran for eleven seasons, giving those in the disabled community some much-needed media representation. Netflix got in on the action, releasing their own spin on this highly successful format in 2019, deciding to focus on the autism spectrum exclusively, over in sunny Australia. Now Netflix has broadened their horizons further with an American version of the show, which you can binge to your heart’s content.
The uplifting reality series returns, following the same tried and tested formula as its predecessor. A voiceover narration introduces viewers to the romantic hopefuls of each episode. We get to know these individuals personally in their home settings, with family and friends helping to build a better picture of the autistic people at the center of the show. The individuals themselves explain why they are looking for love in their own words and address their autism in one on one soundbites. As the hopefuls gingerly enter the dating scene for the first time, an Autism expert is on hand to train and guide the romantics through this alien process. After a rapid-fire rehearsal, they’re taken on their first date, with the film crew following their every move.
Social interactions can be a minefield for an autistic person, so Jennifer Cook, who was diagnosed with autism herself at 35, teaches the individuals to follow social stories and roleplay conversation starters. The show represents the autism spectrum in an authentic and honest way, choosing not to sugarcoat or objectify its participants. Autistic people normally say exactly what they are thinking, these social discrepancies and struggles with social cues do inevitably lead to humor, yet the individuals are never ridiculed. It’s a genuine and heart-warming series that shines a light on a forgotten part of society. A light-hearted and sweet docuseries that will brighten up your day.
This six-part series does start to become quite repetitive after a while, only following a handful of individuals over multiple episodes. Netflix tries to inject some drama into proceedings, ending episodes on unnecessary cliffhangers that are edited in a superficial way. Those two negatives aside, this is an inspiring show that will melt even the hardest of hearts. It’s nearly impossible to pick fault with such a pure program that heroically brings vital representation to a minority group, going a long way towards normalizing disabilities in today’s society.
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