Words can’t describe the joy I felt when I discovered that First Dates Germany is a thing. It was yesterday, and my life hasn’t been the same since.
If you’re unfortunate enough never to have heard of this show, here’s a quick summary: strangers meet for a date at a restaurant owned by a flamboyant, semi-famous chef; the encounter is filmed and dissected by a snarky voice-over with a penchant for puns.
The Irish version debuted on RTE back in 2016 but tragically – while the episodes are available online – you can’t watch them from abroad.
That said, I have (obviously) seen enough episodes while back on the old turf to make a meaningful comparison with the German version.
Here, based on several glorious hours of binge-watching, are my first impressions of First Dates: Ein Tisch für Zwei:
The Teutonic reputation for bluntness and practicality? Firmly upheld. One woman praised her date for his attractive personality but rejected him on the basis that he simply wasn’t “optically” up to scratch. Another factored in the cost of the airfare that would be required for a long-distance relationship between Cologne and Zurich.
And when it comes to paying, there is far less beating around the bush. One young man leant back luxoriously when the bill came, waiting for his date to pay up. “I like to be treated,” he said simply, as if this was all that was required for a free dinner. It worked.
“Can I pay?” another man asked his date.
“Sure,” she said.
No “Ah, God no.” “Ah go on.” “No, we’ll split.” “No I insist.” “Oh go on then.” “Are you sure? Next one’s on me.” “If there is a next time: oh God. How presumptuous.” “Thanks ever so much. You’re too good.”
If you think it’s all about reason and logic on the German dating scene though: think again! These people are obsessed with star signs! In fact, asking prospective love interests their Zodiac sign appears to be a standard first-date question. This, of course, presents plenty of opportunities for some astrological banter too. Take last night – for example – when a Pisces (the German word for it is Fisch) ended up ordering – you guessed it – fish.
Staring blankly in the face of compliments is also common among participants in First Dates Germany. “You have lovely eyes,” one date said to another last night. No“ah stop” in response. No “yours aren’t bad either.” Not even an embarrassed glance to the side. Just silence and a long, impassive stare back at the admirer.
Altogether, First Dates Germany does not have the delicious appeal of the Irish version, with its self-deprecating and often highly witty participants. But the candor offered by the Germans offers its own unique comedy and charms.
Consider me hooked.