‘Love on the Spectrum‘ is a reality dating show like no other. Many believe dating to be a somewhat complex social construct for neurotypical people, anyway. In the show, which is now on Netflix, we see autistic individuals looking for love. The creator described his motivation for the series, saying, “People on the spectrum want love just like everybody else does. It’s really refreshing and nice to be able to show people on an authentic dating journey…” However, viewers are left asking how ‘authentic’ is ‘Love on the Spectrum,’ despite its best efforts?
Is Love on the Spectrum Real?
When it comes to reality shows, especially dating shows, one might understand the skepticism viewers bring to the table. Firstly, the casting process is stringent, considering the needs of the show. Moreover, there’s interference from producers who tend to focus on the more dramatic moments to draw audiences. However, ‘Love on the Spectrum’ eschews the typical drama that one would expect from such subject matter. In fact, the entire purpose of the show is to provide better autistic representation in such fields.
Speaking of the casting methodology, Cian O’Clery said, “Our casting methodology was completely the opposite of a dating show. We look at it as we’re filming a series on the terms of the participants, not on our terms. We see it as we are people who are being allowed into their lives to tell their stories. We’re not casting a show and finding people up for something that they can’t get out of.” As a result, casting agents don’t find the participants for ‘Love on the Spectrum.’ Instead, they reach out to disability employment organizations, autism organizations, and social groups.
Even during the filming, the show accommodates some smart fourth wall breaks, to try and highlight the reality of an autistic individual’s search for love. For example, Amanda asks the crew if she can take a break during her date with Michael. Another participant addresses the team in an attempt to clear up a misconception. ‘Love on the Spectrum’ doesn’t seem to be as much about the drama of love, as it is a benign, non-judgemental look at the romantic struggles of different individuals on the spectrum.
Ultimately, the series seeks to clear misconceptions about autism. It looks at the situation through the lens of love, since love is the most inexplicable, common thread that we all relate to. Cian spoke about it, saying to Fast Company, “I wanted to help bust some of the myths about autism—one of the biggest being that people on the spectrum aren’t interested in love and uninterested in relationships and intimacy.” So, how far does it come along in the attempt? Sarah Kurchak, who’s autistic, writes for TIME magazine, saying,” ‘Love on the Spectrum’ is, by and large, seemingly well-meaning and intermittently charming.”
The series does not intend to shock and awe rather tends to educate and inform. Kurchak has pointed out some possible flaws like zooming in on the eccentric clothing choices of the participants. However, Sarah’s been quick to check herself and reach a similar conclusion as us – the series puts a substantial step forward when it comes to an accurate representation of autism and how it might impact someone’s romantic life.
Read More: Is Indian Matchmaking Scripted?