What happens when you take a hoity toity Sydney restaurant and fill it with a whole load of lovelorn singletons? Awkwardness, usually. When various odd and eccentric personality types meet in the hope of finding a spark, well, that’s TV gold, my friends.
That’s what First Dates is all about: filming couples on their very first dinner date. The small-talk, the flirtation, the horror of realising you might hate the person sitting opposite you: it’s all there.
This week, five couples looking for love met, ate, then decided whether or not they’d fancy a second date in front of each other. Let’s meet them.
Stephanie, 24, and Stewart, 27
Stephanie might be a little crazy. How else do you explain that she’s opted to come back for a second week running? Oh Steph, WHY?
Watch Stephanie being a bit awks last week. Post continues after video…
Her first date with Jordan last week did not go well. He decided not to take her up on a second date, and all of Australia saw her heart break. She thinks it might be because her make-up was too low-key. No fear of that this week.
Stewart has hipster tattoos and a soul patch and likes a woman who can “do the make-up thing”.
“What’s Sydney rock oysters?” asks Stephanie. “Like, yeeeeaaahhhhh?” she says, making rock ‘n’ roll hands. Stewart generously laughs.
“I’m a glamour lady,” she says, apropos of nothing, with a mouthful of bread. They high-five over the fact that she enjoys buying and wearing make-up, particularly MAC. I am surprised and confused as to why Stewart knows about/approves of MAC cosmetics in particular.
Stephanie thinks people might underestimate her because of her mad make-up skillz. Stewart tells her, “That’s what happens when you’re pretty.” which is actually quite sweet.
Steph doesn’t know how to deal with compliments. “Took you long enough to say it!” she says flicking her hair around self-consciously.
When their date ends, Stephanie tries to go dutch on the bill, which I would have thought is standard behaviour, but it seems like the guys are grabbing the bill on most of these dates. Likewise here, Stewart picks up the tab.
Finally, in the decision room, seated side by side, they must say whether they want to see each other again. Stephanie says she’s looking for “all-consuming passionate love” and wasn’t sure she felt that — on their first TV date. Stewart agrees — but really, what choice did he have?
Stephanie ends up alone and in tears over her singledom. I think Hollywood movies have a lot to answer for.
Mikaela, 18, and Luke, 25
“Hopeless romantic” Mikaela wishes she was “born in “the olden days” when men weren’t “dicks”.
“Meat retailer” (butcher) Luke is single because “I don’t have a girlfriend!” He’s a real jokester.
Since she’s only been drinking legally for several months and doesn’t know anything on the wine list, Mikaela asks for something “fancy”. She ends up with a dated Cosmopolitan cocktail that nevertheless will help in the urinary tract department, if nec.
She’s scared of fancy restaurants and as far as dates go, dinner would be her least favourite. Scanning the menu for something she recognises, she looks perplexed. She usually just orders “chicken schnitzel and chips or something”.
Luke has a disconcerting way of opening his mouth really wide after he makes a quip as if in expectation of uncontrollable guffawing.
They meet and both acknowledge being extremely nervous, and then, inexplicably, Mikaela agrees to oysters. She has never eaten oysters before.
She washes one down with some red wine. Luke’s face when she says, “I’ve actually never had red wine,” is priceless.
Other things Mikaela’s never had before: duck.
Once she’s recovered from the food, the next topic of conversation is marriage which Mikaela is very keen on, even though she might still be growing. She’s never been in a serious relationship (because teenager), although someone once broke up with her on Valentine’s Day with a text message.
Despite this setback, Mikaela’s keen to marry and start a family. Luke agrees that’s he’d like two or three children. In the midst of this important conversation, Mikaela leaves to call her mum about the duck. “Like, quack, quack!” she tells her, incredulously.
This date has filled Mikaela with confidence about future dinner dates and she now can consume oysters and red wine with impunity.
Watch Mikaela and Luke’s date. Post continues after video…
Fortunately, she can do it with Luke — he wants to see her again. CUTE. These two are cute. He’s planning to introduce her to some more dishes but would be OK with a schnitty, too.
According to the postscript, they haven’t had their chicken schnitzel yet but they are in touch.
Lani, 24, “professional flirt” and Layton, 28
Lani reckons men have misconceptions about her; they think she’s ditzy. But she understands “how the male mind works and how to turn them on”.
Upon entering the restaurant, she immediately begins rehearsing her flirting technique with the bartender. “What do you like about me?” she asks coyly.
“I’m not on the menu madam, I apologise.”
So how does Lani make men fall in love with her? She “puts on a voice, smiles, laughs, and gives them the sexy eyes”.
Layton wants a smart girl with a good sense of humour and a “good rack”. Ugh. I hope Lani eats him for breakfast and picks her teeth with his bones. Too much?
When they meet, she immediately begins her seduction technique: she puts on a soft, murmuring voice, smiles, laughs, and gives Layton “the sexy eyes”.
They bond over the hilarious coincidence of both having names that begin with L.
Their conversation is mystifying to me. He says his philosophy is that he doesn’t care what happens in life as long as he doesn’t regret anything. “Oh my god, no way!” Lani squeals. “Me too!”
The thing about this seemingly shallow and meaningless conversation is that it’s all part of a larger plan. “Be like an onion,” Lani advises. “If you give them too much, they’ll cry. It’s too much to take.”
The next coincident is that they both like scallops, which causes much merriment, for some reason.
The flirting campaign continues. She whispers “naughty secrets” to him over the table then insists they eat limes together.
“Are you trying to seduce me,” she asks, doing the “sexy eyes”. “Are you going to spoon me and I’ll spoon you?” she asks, doing the “sexy eyes”. “How do you feel about me?” she asks, doing the “sexy eyes”.
I don’t know whether or not they’ll date, but they’ll probably definitely have sex. Possibly under the dinner table.
Layton tells us Lani’s very sexy but he doesn’t know if he wants to see her again. Of course, when she says she can’t see a single thing she doesn’t like about him, he’s all, “I was going to say the same thing!” Another hilarious coincidence!
According to the postscript, they’re still in touch but “flirting is the name of the game”. That’s code for “they’re doing it”.
Paul, 53, and Sharon, 48
Paul’s from Birmingham but now lives in Australia. He’s excited to be on a real live date; he doesn’t like online dating. In his day, they just used to jump from club to club in Birmingham!
His ideal woman is a Sandra Bullock type — only “with boobs”. A brunette with boobs enters the restaurant. Sharon’s ideal man: Vin Diesel crossed with George Colombaris (?!). I feel like Paul is getting pretty close.
They reminisce about Duran Duran before Sharon can make her confession to Paul. “I’ve got to tell you. I love bald men.” Paul’s entire bald head goes bright red.
Her reasoning? “It’s nice to rub a bald head.”
For his part, Paul is intrigued by Sharon’s breast implants. Her surgery is a fact that he finds “saucy as”.
She’s twice married but totally wants to get married again. He’s been married once but would be willing to do it again. “Sharon could be the right person,” he says.
They’re totally going to see each other again.
Postscript: Sharon and Paul are married. Only kidding! They did kick on after their date though, and are planning another.
Kate, 27, and Griff, 24
Kate’s a PA who wants a guy with a sense of humour. “I always come across as this fun-loving-go-lucky-happy-girl,” she says. However, she’s got a lot of sadness in her life.
“My dad’s sick,” she says, describing how he’s been paralysed since she was 14 years old. “Humour has helped us as a family come through this every day.”
Griff is a trivia host. The jury’s out on whether or not he’s funny.
Griff’s problem: he can’t tell if a girl’s flirting with him, ever, unless she’s about as subtle as a train smash.
He becomes paralysed with nerves and Kate has to work really hard. She even complims him on his blue suit and his very high hair.
Griff eventually has Kate giggling up a storm despite the fact that she usually dates men who are “nothing like” him.
In the decision room, Kate says she felt a strong friendship connection rather than emotional or physical.
The wander off doing funny walks together. It could be the start of a beautiful friendship.