First Dates is a lifestyle show on the Slice Network. Filmed in Vancouver, it's about two strangers meeting for the first time to see if they hit it off. It's a very common experience - all people, in every culture, woo potential mates. So it's a popular show.
The episode airing on April 4th features a sexy, grizzled old daddy named Craig, a recent divorcee with a big beard. His blind date is Maxi, a somewhat younger Asian transwoman. They actually do hit it off. Even after she reveals that she is trans, Craig is still moved to say "A beautiful woman is a beautiful woman."
When I speak to producer Toby Dormer about First Dates. "The show reflects Vancouver society. It's open to everyone," he tells me. "We interview applicants, we match them up, and from the minute they enter the restaurant they don't see any members of the production team. It's filmed with remote control cameras. We don't tell them what to say. They pay for their own food, as we have to see who will pick up the cheque and it helps weed out people who just want to be on TV. Most of our applicants are just focused on meeting another person. Meanwhile, we're next door in a different building watching the whole thing go down."
Now in its second season, the show is great fun, but has anyone ever really found love on a TV show? "I know of at least two couples from this season who are still together. We don't expect many of them to work out, that would be ridiculous, but over half have at least gone on a second date on their own."
As for Craig and Maxi, I won't spoil it by telling you if it works out or not. But like a lot of transpeople, she wants to find true love and not be fetishized. "We've had other transpeople apply but couldn't find a match for them," said Toby. "We almost teamed up a transman with a transwoman once, but unfortunately one of them dropped out." Now that sounds like it would have made a fascinating episode.