‘Dating Is Hard Enough’: Love On The Spectrum Creators Weigh In On How It Serves As An Antithesis To Reality Dating, And Other Shows Should Take Note

 Dani on a coffee date in Love on the Spectrum.
Dani on a coffee date in Love on the Spectrum.

If you frequent dating shows on Netflix, you know that Love on the Spectrum is totally different from other series focused on finding romance in reality spaces. And, it goes much deeper than Love on the Spectrum focusing on participants who are on the autism spectrum. When CinemaBlend spoke to the show’s creators, they explained the thought process behind the series being a refreshing antithesis to other shows about dating.

With the second season of Love on the Spectrum U.S. now available to stream with a Netflix subscription, I spoke to creators Cian  O'Clery and Karina Holden about the making of the docu-dating series. When I asked them about the show differing itself from other reality shows about the dating process, Holden said:

I think that dating traditionally gets portrayed as a gladiatorial sport, and I think that it's nice to have this as a counterpoint where our participants are almost like role models on how to behave well. When you're stepping into the arena and taking somebody's heart in your hands, the honesty, the respect, the communication that is expressed in the show, they're all really helpful things. And I just think that dating is hard enough without us all having these sort of major conflict examples of the cheating and the backstabbing and the ghosting and all of the rubbish that you see that happens that is hard enough to deal with in real life… We love that we can do that for people. That means that they're not scared off of having to date and meet strangers for the first time and take that risk.

As someone who enjoys viewing shows like The Bachelor and Love Is Blind, sure, they are entertaining in their own ways, but when I watch Love on the Spectrum, I get much more excited about the world of dating whereas I get stressed AF when it comes to those other shows. As Holden put it, Love on the Spectrum works as this “counterpoint” to what we’ve come to expect from seeing dating on TV, and that’s very much their hope for audiences when they are watching it. O'Clery added:

I've worked on dating shows back in the day. I spent some years working in the reality space and yeah, you know, it's really nice to be able to tell positive stories and not just rely on a sort of conflict to hold an audience.

While it’s certainly entertaining to see the dating show drama that happens on other shows, I find myself getting just as hooked on what is happening during Love on the Spectrum in a much lower-stakes sense. It’s free of these crazy deadlines for participants to get engaged or married in a matter of weeks or months. Plus, you really feel as if the creators are working to help its participants, rather than exploit them. As Holden continued:

[We] schedule around the fact that people take a while to process how they feel about these people they've met and the relationships that they're entering into. If we just kind of blocked out somebody's story and we got them back-to-back dates and then we wanted to progress their dates too quickly, it wouldn't be successful either. So that's a really important thing for us to create the space for them to process how they feel, take that time with their family, reflect on it, and then to come back to us and say, do they want a second date with somebody they've met? Or, do they feel that maybe they wanna meet someone new?

The series has found success in this as well. As Season 2 shows, Abbey and David, who met first in Season 1, are a very successful couple who travel to Kenya for vacation ahead of the pair celebrating two years together. Holden also pointed this out:

Everybody has ended the series either in a relationship that is either a romantic relationship or at least a lasting friendship and has formed a genuine connection, which I think is really sweet.

Rather than what happens on many dating shows where participants leave with an enemy or two, Holden shared that everyone on Love on the Spectrum has at least made one genuine connection, whether that be a friend or romantic interest. While the show certainly brings more understanding about the complexities of living on the spectrum, O’Clery also previously told us that they created the show to be about “people trying to connect,” and that’s definitely communicated through its narrative.

Love on the Spectrum is for sure one of the best dating shows on the 2024 TV schedule due to many of the things they spoke to us about. Other reality dating needs to take note!

As you stream the latest season, you can also check out the creators’ comments on how social media fame of its participants has affected Season 2 along with what romantic comedies influenced the show’s formatting.