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With the proliferation of dating websites, online profiles, and matchmaking services, daters today have an incredible number of ways to meet each other. Truly, meeting the old fashioned way has become old fashioned. But amidst all of these new-fangled dating strategies, let us not forget the original Dating 2.0: TV Dating Shows!
This is the second in a series analyzing the success of dating on television. Check out my previous entry for a statistical breakdown of the popular 90’s MTV show “Singled Out.”
Up next: Blind Date!
If you’re anything like me, you spent many an afternoon watching “Blind Date” when you got home from school in the early nineties. For this reason, it holds a very special place in my heart. (Much like “Total Request Live,” and reruns of “Dawson’s Creek” and “90210.”) I also relate well to this show as a certified blind date aficionado; I have been set up on them by everyone from my friends, to my boss, to my doctor. Some of them went well, some of them were a horror show, but they were always a hysterical bumble of awkwardness that I’m sure were laughed at by everyone observing. Just like on the show!
Debuting in 1999, “Blind Date” ran for 7 seasons, giving it one of the longest on-air tenures of the entire Dating Show pantheon. Although, if you feel like you’ve seen “Blind Date” more recently than 2006, that is because it went into syndication on Spike TV, Fox Reality, and Reality TV One. “Blind Date,” man. Quite a juggernaut.
This shouldn’t come as a surprise, I suppose. I mean, what is more relatable and timeless than the tensions/excitement of being set up on a blind date?
You know what else is timeless? Roger Lodge’s smile.
Incidentally, are any of you going on a blind date in the near future? Because if so, here are some quality Roger Lodge branded conversation starters, courtesy of wikipedia:
Ah yes, Rogelio was a fine host. But hosting aside, can we all agree that the real star of “Blind Date” were the thought bubbles? They say invention is born from necessity, and because awkward silences compose 50-75% of any given blind date, it was probably some poor soul’s job on the “Blind Date” production crew to come up with a way fill in all that dead air. That creative someone chose to fill the spaces with quirky jokes and observations, and I think we all owe that person a round of applause. Pop-Up Video + The Dating Game = Entertainment Gold.
Because I am currently getting my MBA, I am always on the lookout for important ways to apply the important lessons I’m learning. After all, practical application is a proven method of long-term knowledge retention. olks, I’ve just completed an entry-level survey course of Economics, and I got an A-, so I pretty much nailed it. Consequently, I would now like to apply some macro-economic theories to “Blind Date” for analysis.
Supply and Demand
After doing some research, I am happy to report that unlike “Singled Out,” a few of the daters set up on “Blind Date” have actually gotten married!* Two couples, in fact, have walked down the aisle after meeting on the show. At first this seems counterintuitive. Why would a blind date show produce more successful matches than a show where the contestant gets to choose from 50 different people? Personally, I believe this can be explained using the simple theory of Supply and Demand.
*I cannot emphasize enough how excited I was to find this information. These couples are so lucky; not only did they get to have their first date chronicled for posterity on National TV, they also got to have it happen with the anonymity of “Blind Date” being broadcast in the early 2000’s. If they got married after meeting on a TV show today, they would probably end up on the cover of US Weekly, have one or more plastic surgeries, get embroiled in a publicized cheating scandal, and ultimately breakup while wallowing in shame. Congratulations, mystery couples. You really dodged a bullet, there!
Anyone familiar with the relationship of supply and demand knows that when supply increases, the demand actually goes down. On a show like “Singled Out” or “The Bachelor,” wherein a large number of guys vie for one girl’s affection, the demand for any one particular guy goes down by proxy. There are just too many other people to choose from. However, on “Blind Date,” where the supply of guys is low, you are only on a date with one person after all, the demand to make a connection with that one guy is necessarily higher. After all, like him or not, he is the only one there. You have to accompany him in the hot tub.
This merits a discussion about Opportunity Cost as well. Defined as “The cost of an alternative that must be forgone in order to pursue a certain action” by our friends as Investopedia.com, this is the idea that decisions must be made while bearing in mind what other opportunities you are missing out on.
You can see how the Opportunity Cost on the show like “The Bachelor” or “The Bachelorette” would be brutal. No matter how much fun you were having on a date, you’d spend the whole time knowing in the back of your head how hot the other girls/guys are back at the house. With so many options, questioning yourself would be easy. Did I make the right rose-giving decision? Should I have gone deep-sea fishing with someone else today?? Which one of these former catalog models should I be proposing to???
On “Blind Date” Opportunity Cost is a no brainer. You are on one date with one person. Did you have fun? Then hang out again! No? Then go out with someone else. Rinse and repeat.
Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility
Of course, not every date on “Blind Date” went well. In fact, the most entertaining to watch were often disasters, described on the show as “Dates from Hell.” We can use the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility to describe why we saw so many dates go south.
Let’s go back to Investopedia.com for an official definition: “A law of economics stating that as a person increases consumption of a product – while keeping consumption of other products constant – there is a decline in the marginal utility that person derives from consuming each additional unit of that product.”
If we apply this to “Blind Date,” we can use “marginal utility” as a measure of how much pleasure you get from hanging out with your date. For the visual learners, I’ve created this highly scientific graph to demonstrate the theory below:
Enjoyment (or marginal utility) increases during the first portion of the date- intial introductions are always polite, and the first activity is a usually pleasant display of earnestly trying to get to know each other. Clearly utility peaks with the dinner (ahem, drinking) portion of the date, a respite from the social rigors of feighning politeness to someone you have just met and may not like very much. At that point, however, enjoyment usually begins to decrease (future married couples excluded, of course).
For the most part, they have spent so long together that they are quite weary of one another’s annoying idiosynchrasies, and the aforementioned alcohol now allows the daters to be less inhibited (read: honest about the fact that they’re over it). This makes the drive home especially not fun, because in the vast majority of “Blind Date” episodes, by that point the daters are well aware that they will not be hooking up, passing go, or collecting $200.
Daters on the show “Blind Date” are particularly suceptable to the Law of Diminishing Marginal Utility, because the dates on the show are remarkably long. Between two different activities, and having to have a meal together, the daters spend almost an entire day one-on-one. That is a long time to be on a blind date. I mean, I’m getting the shivers just thinking about it. In real life, any blind dater worth their salt knows to have an exit strategy ready at a moments notice; but in the “Blind Date” universe, exits are impossible.
No matter how low your “marginal utility” falls, you are stuck there trying your best to be polite to this probable werido, all the while knowing that cameras are capturing your every move. And this was before cell phones, so you wouldn’t even be able to check twitter or anything when the coversation got slow. Brutal.
Well, brutal for the participants anyway. Fantastic for the viewers. Much like the Marginal Cost and Aggregate Demand curves (prob a little advanced for you guys, nbd), the daters’ enjoyment and our enjoyment often ran inverse of one another. So to all of those “Blind Daters” who suffered a terrible date at the expense of creating trashy TV, thank you! Economically, it was for the greater good.
Thanks you to the Frisky and MagWeb for the fun photos!
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Colorado-bred, Brandy is an MBA candidate, marathon runner, and former NBA dancer who currently lives and works in Boston, Massachusetts. She loves long weekends, margaritas, and the USC Trojans. She hates it when people take the elevator to the second floor. Follow her at @iambadler.
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