There have been a lot of dating shows this year. On Netflix alone there’s been so many that a lot of them tend to blur together. Love On the Spectrum is one that stands out ahead of the pack. It’s a heartwarming, awkward and realistic look at the quest for love between autistic men and women. It’s worth noting though that this isn’t a wholly original idea – especially given the popularity of The Undateables in the UK. Unlike that questionably named Channel 4 series however, Love On The Spectrum is much more inclusive and every bit as watchable.
Across the five episodes we’re introduced to a host of different people that we follow on and off through the series. Michael lives in the shadow of his brother and is desperate for love; he even has a love heart placard ready for his future wife. Chloe has hearing aids and was diagnosed with autism when she was 11. Ruth meanwhile is a self-proclaimed nerd but has been dating Thomas for 4 years.
These different men and women form the crux of the first episode before more individuals are introduced across the following episodes. Maddi is eccentric and independent, 21 year old Kelvin embraces his autism while Mark is first introduced after going on a date with Maddi. Toward the end we also meet Andrew, Olivia and the cute couple of Sharnae and Jimmy.
The episodes themselves add a lot of face to face interviews which allow us to get to know the quirks and personality of each character. It’s here the shows hands the reigns over to these different young adults as we see them preparing and taking part in various first and second dates. Predictably some go really well while others are incredibly awkward and end disastrously.
There’s one such example in episode 2 as the awkward silence becomes so unbearable that the date is called off. It’s heartbreaking and poignant but also incredibly realistic. There’s no script here, no slick camera work and most importantly, a real desire to show both the highs and lows. Given some figures state 95% of people with autism never find a partner, Love On The Spectrum tries to level the playing field by showing different couples living together and how they’ve been getting on.
The biggest problem with Love On The Spectrum though comes from its short length. With only five episodes, some of the different characters we meet over the season fall by the wayside in favour of newer faces. I found myself wondering what happened to Chloe after a great first date and had to wait until the end of episode 5 to find out. Personally I would have liked there to be a few more episodes to follow these individuals for a longer period of time.
Ultimately though Love On the Spectrum is a wonderful series and a heartwarming, realistic look at the world of dating. There’s a great array of people covered here and the show has done an excellent job finding people from all walks of life and from across the globe.
If you’ve been disillusioned by the recent slew of glossy, perfect dating shows on Netflix and fancy something a bit more down to earth and different, Love On the Spectrum may just be what the doctor ordered.