This is Ode To…, a weekly column where we share the stuff we’re really into in hopes that you’ll be really into it, too. First up: Blind dates on camera.
Throughout my tenure as a YouTube connoisseur, I’ve cycled through plenty of content — but there are only so many vlogs, old celebrity interviews, and beauty tutorials one can take in before turning into a pile of mush.
There’s one type of video, though, that still makes me click: videos of folks going on blind dates. My ice-cold heart melts whenever I settle in to watch two strangers meet. I stay glued to the screen, just in case this couple falls in love before my eyes.
In today’s dating world, we form our ideas about potential dates from their social accounts and dating app profiles. Going on a blind date — or, at least, watching people go on one — feels like a breath of fresh air, void of preconceived notions.
Whether romance does or does not blossom on set ultimately doesn’t matter to me. It’s the videos themselves that serve as reminders that nothing beats the thrill of meeting a stranger with whom you’re willing to share a little bit of yourself.
These blind dates are the perfect escape for those who lament the decline of the rom-com, and also enjoy bite-sized videos that offer a bit of escapism from their day-to-days.
Though there are multiple production companies known for filming people on blind dates, the format of these videos are pretty similar across the board: Two people enter a neutral space (sometimes blindfolded at first), and either answer a series of questions prepared for the couple — No awkward scrambling and secondhand embarrassment here! — or get to know one another through an activity, like a drinking game.
Regardless of how boring some of the participants may be, it’s the questions that carry the date forward and keep things interesting, especially considering that they’re not likely ones that someone might ask on a normal first date.
The “Tea for Two” series from Jubilee takes on the famed 36 questions “that lead to love,” written by psychologist Arthur Aron and popularized by a widely read New York Times‘ Modern Love column. Prompts like, “What is your most treasured memory?” or, “When did you last cry?” lead to seriously revealing answers.
Other videos — like those uploaded by The Skin Deep or Cut — take a very different tone. Participants are asked to draw from stack of salacious prompts — an enticing element, because the only thing better than watching people fall in love on camera is watching people squirm on camera.
Here’s just a sampling of the conversation starters forced on these poor strangers: “When was the last time you masturbated?” or, “What is my least attractive feature?” or, “Choose five words to describe what having sex with me would be like?“
While some remain at ease in the face of challenging questions, it’s thrilling to see discomfort settle across the faces of those who are struggling, particularly when politics come into play.
This is all part of the beauty of first date videos. These interactions aren’t filtered through the rose-colored lenses of a movie (though, they are filtered somewhat — it’s still YouTube content, after all).
Like in life, stereotypes and biases can be on full display during these videos, though thankfully it never gets malicious. SoulPancake’s “Tell My Story” series asks its participants to judge one another based on appearance alone. Participants do a fill-in-the-blank questionnaire about the person across from them and are expected to guess names, ages, occupations and more, based on just a few minutes with their date. It’s heartwarming to see two strangers open up and slowly get to know each other.
First dates, as awkward as they can be, are a treat to witness because of the blank slate they provide for potential connection. Throw in the unexpected blind-date factor and these clips become fascinating case studies in body language, human behavior, and modern dating. Sometimes it’s obvious even to the strangers on screen that one date is more interested in a connection than the other. But when the stars align, it’s exhilarating to watch.
Until IRL blind dates become a full-fledged thing again (a recent GQ piece argued for bringing them back), there are plenty of great blind dates videos perfect for the romantic at heart. Grab those tissues and enjoy.