Move over Bachelorette and Love Island.
TV has never quite seen a dating show like ABC’s Love on the Spectrum.
This 4 part series from Northern Pictures (Employable Me) highlights the difficulties of dating for those on the autism spectrum.
There are 11 young Australians profiled: 7 singles and 2 couples who are already building a life together.
Michael, 25 (pictured) is full of optimism and doesn’t even see his Aspergers as a disadvantage. “If anything it’s more of a gift,” he declares. He’s also ready to find his future wife, insisting his greatest dream is to become a husband. But he is specific about his dream girl, whom he describes as “50 / 50.” She can’t be too hot. After all, too many young people are just looking “for intercourse.”
“Never fall for a girl just because she’s hot,” he insists. “Love at first sight is a symptom of lust.” Despite his inexperience, Michael is full of wise counsel.
“Every family needs a Michael,” his mother observes.
19 year old Chloe, who also has a hearing impairment, says “Autism makes me who I am.” She hasn’t had a date in two years. “I want to be like everyone else,” she reveals, which involves kissing and dates. Chloe is also openly bisexual and will embark upon two very different dates in the opening episode.
We also meet 22 year old Ruth who is living with 25 year old Thomas -both are on the spectrum. Ruth loves her pet snake, collecting business cards, and visiting a cat cafe, while Thomas is a bus driver who is a miniature train enthusiast (go figure!). He also says Ruth has a “killer body,” and together they are like fire and water. “Things get steamy,” says Ruth, adding “We are comfortable farting in front of each other.”
The doco also features Relationship Specialist Jodi Rodgers, who helps Michael prepare for speed-dating and a dinner date. “Knowledge about relationships and sexuality should be accessible to all people, no matter what their age or learning abilities,” she says.
Subsequent episodes will profile other young Australians as well as Psychiatry and Biobehavioral expert Dr. Elizabeth Laugeson.
Northern Pictures’ experience in Employable Me positions them well to deal sensitively and entertainingly with the material tackled here. Series Producer and Director Cian O’Clery shines a spotlight on a delicate cast without ever feeling exploitative. It’s ok to smile -or even laugh- when it’s done in the context of the educative aspects of the topic. Narrator Brooke Satchwell never over-eggs the storytelling links.
Hats off to the casting folk for finding these expressive and endearing young Australians.
Love on the Spectrum is frank, warm and full of hope. Fingers crossed it ends with true love.
As Michael reminds us, “Smell the flowers. They don’t bloom every day.”
Love on the Spectrum airs 8:30pm Tuesday on ABC.