'Dated & Related' hinges on pairs of siblings living together and dating while simultaneously "wing-manning" their sibling. It's like 'Love Island; the contestants stay in a villa in Cannes and embark on challenges that test their budding romances and, potentially more importantly, their family bonds.
The show is like 'Love Island' with some 'Big Brother' moments; dating and romance are slow and steady with secret challenges like when Alara and her brother Ceylan have to convince other siblings that they take baths together. It's that silly, harmless craic that makes for really enjoyable TV. But it's not all sunshine.
The cast is evocative of the very American high school feel onscreen á la 'High School Musical' or 'Mean Girls' with their distinct stereotypes; you can pin down the popular ones in Norwegian, Kim Kardashian lookalikes, Diana and Nina. Karina is the Vanessa Anne Hudgens of it all, an absolute sweetheart and Dion is the lovable nerd who slips in the pool when he tries to act smooth.
Like in every high school flick, there are the jock types. And usually, they're the worst of all. In 'Dated & Related' it's no different. If sliced bread ever met Chris and Jake from New Jersey, it'd end in fisticuffs. They're all brawn and no brains, all hair and no know-how.
While watching these two try and chat up two of the villa's biggest hotties, it was so awful that we began to wonder — are these lads paid actors? There's no way that we're in the year 2022 and people willingly flirt like this. They're the living embodiment of the chat-up line "did it hurt when you fell from heaven?".
So, all that said, you can imagine the series is pretty excruciating to watch, and it is, but only for the first two episodes. Beyond there, we get to see some initially surprising depth to this cast. Real people start to rear their heads above all the blowdries and bikinis. Emotional maturity enters the chat.
Karina is the 'Dated & Related' Taylor Swift. We can imagine her now writing lyrics into a journal when Kaz dumped her for Diana, deciding "she wears short skirts, I wear t-shirts, she's cheer captain and I'm on the bleachers". Suffice it to say she's a total sweetheart, but she handles rejection so healthily onscreen that it's worth applauding.
Instead of going down kicking and screaming like we've seen happen on so many reality dating shows, she accepts that two things can be true at once; number one, it's a shite situation and number two, this doesn't make Kaz a villain. Can we get three cheers for nuance, please?
The show needs these peaks and troughs, characters like Karina who centre us in reality and characters like Diana and Nina who shed tears that would shock a crocodile over the Jersey Boys, whom they seem to mildly dislike, because they "did such a good job wing-manning each other". Chef's kiss, where's the Emmy?
Honestly, this show is like a teen movie; we've got all the big pillars. Romance is on the cards. Families are always in the background. You've got your landmarks; the 'cool' girls and the underdogs. You've got the growth of a main character, Karina. And — we won't spoil the rest. Go grab the popcorn.
Watch 'Dated & Related' on Netflix now.