The British network Channel 4 has released a new TV documentary series on disability and dating titled The Undatables. Some early reviews of the show indicate parse for the quality and message, but question the marketing and other aspects of the television medium in conveying what is a complex component of life.
Channel 4s The Undateables features many people with learning difficulties and introduces us to a dating agency, Stars in the Sky, which helps put people in touch with each other.Lydia Jones is one of their chaperones – she makes sure that clients get to the date venue safely and that they meet the right person, but she also helps tackle lulls in conversations.Continue reading the main storyLove at no sightThough love at first sight may happen for people blessed with eyes, love after first discussion is the closest youll get to it if you cant see.Ive often thought that “sighties” might be just a little bit disabled by having vision. Ive seen friends chasing people for their looks yet getting hurt very badly because their beauty is only skin deep, their personality somewhat rotten.But good looks and attraction can be complex for blind people. And oh how Id love to be able to sit here and tell you that blind people are without prejudice: not caring if youre a prince or whether youre plug ugly and that we dont care about such superficial matters. Sadly, thats just not true.Read the full Magazine article by Damon Rose from 2009″Quite often, people with learning disabilities are forced into sharing relationships with people who they dont have a choice about being with,” says Jones. “Their peers are the ones they meet at a day service or in supported living accommodation.”
The issue of marketing the series is taken up Francis Ryan
As marketing moves go, Channel 4 has hit a near impressive level of crass in its promotion of The Undateables, a series following people with disabilities in their quest for love. This is a title that looks bad on paper but even worse when put on a billboard, where towering images of people with a facial disfigurement or a wheelchair have the title Undateable emblazoned next to them. You do wonder why Channel 4 didn’t go the whole hog and just use the title “You’re weird and no one wants to have sex with you”..
But if The Undateables seems an offensive title for a show, then that was probably the aim: offence equals controversy, controversy equals ratings. Disabled people are hardly the first subjects to fall victim to such calculations (My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding remains a lesson in avoiding nuance) nor are Channel 4 the only station to have done the sums (BBCThree is now in titling territory that’s almost beyond parody).
Not yet distributed in The US, the show’s trailer is available on YouTube