With the recent release of the U.S. edition of Love of the Spectrum after two successful Australian seasons, I was reminded again of why this show is one of my favourite TV shows of all time. They did an amazing job of keeping this latest instalment true to the Aussie series, complete with speed dating, blind date setups, family interviews, debriefs with friends, and a local love expert to give some tips.
There are so many things that have made this show an instant hit with all audiences, but I wanted to share with you the top three reasons why this show is so amazing.
The Most Genuine People on TV
Unlike every other dating reality show I’ve seen (and I’ve seen a lot – it’s my guilty pleasure after all!), not once have I questioned that these contestants’ primary and sole motive for participating is to find a partner to love. From their heart-warming openness in interviews to their charmingly-awkward date conversations, every person on the show is consistently themselves, even when this doesn’t fit social norms or make them look “glamorous” or “impressive”.
For an example of how effective this is, we need look no further than in the writing of this post itself. The fact that I wanted to refer to them as “characters” just now (as I always do when commenting on shows like Married at First Sight) – but couldn’t – is a testament to the power of what the show-makers have created. I believe that these are the depictions of the personal journeys of real people, not just highly-edited narratives designed by ratings-hungry producers.
Importantly, being able to trust that the people you’re watching on screen are fully invested in the process (without compromising their authenticity) is a major reason why the show is so refreshing – and so successful. Not only does this keep the stakes high (and with it, our interest in their outcomes), it makes each participant intriguing to watch and keeps us invested in them as people, regardless of whether they have a successful relationship with a love interest from the show.
Representation – For All of Us
It’s incredibly important for diverse groups to be seen on screen, and for people on the spectrum to know that their lives and experiences are just as worthy of being shared with the world as anyone else’s we see in the media. The representation of diverse groups also provides people outside those groups (“neurotypicals”, in this case) with a rare opportunity to learn about the experiences of neurodivergent people without stigma or an overly-medicalised lens. This kind of learning through storytelling is a key beneficial function of entertainment media and is fundamental to audiences developing the kind of empathy, acceptance, and diversity that is needed for our society to work cohesively.
Finally, There’s No Such Thing As Weird
On top of the many benefits of seeing autistic people on screen in its own right, there’s a wider implication here. No matter who you are, there’s a universally-reassuring effect of seeing people who do and say things that no one around them expects or really understands – and knowing that they’re loved and lovable despite (and often, because of!) their quirks. It makes us as viewers start to question the self-stigma we carry towards our own unusual traits and behaviours.
Whether it’s attending a niche hobby event in an attention-grabbing outfit, being starkly honest about their dating dealbreakers at the family dinner table, or being inspiringly transparent about the loneliness of being single, the cast give us all permission to own our experiences and uniqueness. It seems that unapologetic honesty and self-acceptance are the trend of this show, and I for one hope it never goes out of style.
If you haven’t had a chance to check out the show yet, what are you waiting for? Go watch it now on Netflix – and let me know what you think!
P.S. While you’re taking instructions, be sure to follow me on my Insta for the latest updates – @ActuallyICould.