Channel 4 looks to have a hit with its dating show for people with disabilities, The Undateables, which attracted just over 2.7 million viewers for its second episode.
The Undateables picked up a total of 2.72 million viewers, an 11.1% share of the audience, between 9pm and 10pm on Tuesday, marginally down on the 2.9 million that tuned in in its first week.
Everyone I speak to is split in their moral viewing of the show. Some feel that watching it is supporting the degradation of people with disabilities, others watch it to empathise and a rare few watch it to laugh.
I think we need to understand that the people on this show haven’t been filmed against their will. Like all people involved in any kind of program they will have been paid and signed off the finished show or given full rights to channel four. They weren’t set up on fake dates or misled in any way so I think the criticism we give to the show producers has to be minimal.
In my eyes learning more about the disabilities that are out there helps me understand them more. To be honest we assume people with severe disabilities either don’t date or would date anyone so to find out that they are actively looking and have a high set of standards – some more than you or me is enlightening (and I don’t mean that in a patronising way whatsoever).
In the first show where people with disabilities were matched with others with disabilities it left implicit the questions raised about intra-disability prejudice, the manifold problems of exposing yourself emotionally when you are already, in many ways, more vulnerable than average – something few of us have to deal with.
Ultimately the issue of bad taste lies with the viewer, if you watch The Undateables for an insight into how confusing the world of dating can be for those with disabilities then it is enlightening and worthy. If you watch it to have a bloody good laugh at others’ misfortune (as the name suggests) then perhaps this often repeated style of documentary is starting to go too far.
Kevin O’Sullivan from the Daily Mirror calls it a ‘f**king freak show’ in one breath and in the next asks us to leave these normal people alone as freaks they are not. Have one opinion Kevin and stop being spineless – we can’t be all things to all people, especially not as a tabloid journalist.