Channel 4 have released another series of ‘The Undateables’ and there has been an element of controversy over the name of the show.
The programme features an array of disabled people who are in the search of love. They apply to specialist dating agencies who partner them with someone of similar interests and then they film them on their dates.
Channel 4 is renowned for screening controversial programmes. Examples would be ‘Embarrassing Bodies’, ‘Benefits Street’ and now, ‘The Undateables’. Channel 4 and BBC 3 are to me, the equivalent to tabloid newspapers, with their shocking headlines and unusual, thought provoking stories about minority groups which grab the public’s attention. The show got a BAFTA last year, presumably because it addresses disability as an issue that’s not really talked about, a subject that’s still quite taboo? The fact that the show brings together physical and mental disability, does this highlight this group of people to be some sort of segregated minority group? Why should this be?
The question is, are they helping disabled people or making things worse? It’s certainly not helping by calling them ‘Undateable’ is it? Who decided these people were ‘undateable’? Does society have this unwritten rule that only the ‘perfect’ body image is ‘acceptable’? What about in the past, where people with different race or sexual orientation were treated differently, why hasn’t society moved on? All these questions…
The people who go on the show, are they brave? Have they gone on to raise awareness of their disabilities and plight, or have they just appeared for publicity? The show is great for raising awareness of the disabilities, but if they changed the name, would it be better? I didn’t really know what Asperger’s was before the show started and now I know, it gives me a better understanding as to why certain people with that condition react in certain ways in social situations.
As far as I’m aware, there haven’t been any deaf/hard of hearing people featured on the show, but if you take disability as a whole, why are we portrayed to be different? As a deaf person, I know I can do everything a hearing person can, except hear. There have been times in the past where I felt ‘undateable’ because ‘normal’ guys didn’t really want to know me. Boys didn’t want to talk to me- it’s like they saw my hearing aids as a force field around me and if they went near, it would be a catastrophe!
It’s like the people with Tourette’s syndrome. They look perfectly ‘normal’, except they might let off a few tics every now and again. Why should that stop them from being able to date?
In a way, I admire this programme, particularly after Monday night’s episode: ‘Wedding Bells’ [link: http://www.channel4.com/programmes/the-undateables/on-demand/61401-005 ] as if it wasn’t for the show, some of these couples might have never met. The show is giving those with disabilities a chance to find love and once they do, it could inspire and encourage lots of other people with similar disabilities to do the same thing.
It’s complicated isn’t it?
Disability can affect people mentally, so they need extra care and support when it comes to dating. They need somebody who’s suitable for their emotional level, and won’t take advantage of them, especially those with learning difficulties. The programme title suggests the majority of society wouldn’t go on a date with a disabled person, but it’s up to the individual whether they are able to see the person for who they are, not just their disability.
The show itself, has elements of humour in it. But, are we meant to laugh at them? I enjoy and love watching it, but is it right of me to be entertained by it? They’re almost making us laugh at the fact that disabled people can’t date ‘normal’ people because of something that’s wrong with them? We’ve all got something wrong with us… nobody’s perfect. On the other hand, are the TV producers creating this so called humour to educate us and make us aware of disabled people out there, so ‘normal’ people aren’t wary of them?
Chatting to some disabled friends of mine, they refuse to watch the show on the belief that it portrays disabled people in a ‘freak show’ type of way.
I understand that this is a delicate subject, but the show just got me thinking. I’m just trying to look at all the angles without imposing my personal opinion. I’d love to hear your thoughts, so please leave them in the comments below.
Love E x