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21 things we learned watching the American version of First Dates

It’s here.

firstdates Source: NBC

A COUPLE OF weeks ago, America’s very own version of First Dates debuted on NBC.

As one of the most exportable shows on telly today, it’s hardly a surprise to see it pop up in the States. But, unlike other jurisdictions, there’s a nagging sense that they’ll find a way of ruining the pureness of First Dates with some unnecessary shite like:

  • surprise eliminations
  • introducing Maury as the restaurant’s waiter brandishing a DNA test with the bill
  • a kiss cam of some sort

So, in the spirit of keeping First Dates’ honour intact, we watched the first episode – and learned a lot:

1. You quickly realise that Drew Barrymore is the narrator and not some generic Irish/English voiceover actor.

This definitely adds a bit of glamour and A-list appeal you wouldn’t usually associate with First Dates.

firstdates3 Source: NBC

2. Five minutes in and the Maître D’ hasn’t said a word despite meeting several daters.

If this was First Dates Ireland, Mateo would have had two monologues about love completed and a few sassy one-liners to the daters thrown in for good measure.

Barrymore is definitely dominating the early set up.

3. The backdrop for the pre-interview is reassuringly familiar. As are the quotes from this lad:

I like to have fun, to be spontaneous… that’s always been a part of who I am. The charm thing is just natural, I can’t help it.

Nice to see that brazenly building yourself up for a fall is a universal quality.

firstdates4 Source: NBC

4. First impressions? All these people are far too comfortable with dating. We’re missing that mortifying awkwardness that comes with Irish people going on dates and being delightfully out of their comfort zones.

It’s like watching Oscar-winning actors on stage when you’re used to a 4th class Christmas play with kids getting stage fright.

5.  Case in point: when yer man walks in and they meet at the bar, instead of nervously shaking each other’s hands/half hugging, this couple twirled each other like they were on Strictly ffs. 

firstdates5 Source: NBC

6. Her standout quote early on?

Dating? I’m really good at it.

We’re here to see amateurs, not professionals. PLEASE.

firstdates2 Source: NBC

7. Within seven minutes, the US military gets a mention.


8. The conversation is definitely good quality first date material though. Tinder, awkward romantic tales and guessing each other’s ages keeps things ticking along nicely.

9. The bartender fits the pattern of all the other shows too – a really well-dressed ride who’s a sympathetic ear for everyone’s problems.

FirstDates1 Source: NBC

10. The phonecalls in the jacks have remained in the US format.

So far, so good.

11. Just as you think everyone is just a little too slick, along come a couple who hold their handshake at the bar for what feels like 17 minutes.

Now we’re cooking.

firstdates7 Source: NBC

12. The restaurant feels a good bit fancier than the Channel 4 and Irish settings – the kind of place where you’d expect the menu to be packed full of things that are supposed to be nice, but actually taste awful and cost you a month’s rent.

13. About halfway through, the touching stories start coming thick and fast – and the more you watch it the more you start getting invested in these people’s lives. Americans tell these stories better than us, let’s face it, and deliver polished personal anecdotes on command.

Damn it First Dates, you’ve done it again.

firstdates9 Source: NBC

14. At one point the Maître D’ waves a couple out the door with a cheery “ciao!”

So we know he’s Italian – keeping up the classy European First Dates standard.

15. Grand gestures seem to be a pretty big deal here – this guy brought expensive champagne with him to be presented at the end of the date:

firstdates8 Source: NBC

Best you’d get on First Dates Ireland is a single rose picked up from M&S on the way to The Gibson.

16. In keeping with the consistency of format, the final decision is *exactly* the same as what we’re used to.

The same bumbling moment of doubt and eventual resolution remain in all its glory.

firstdates10 Source: NBC

17. The only difference is that after this pair said yes they just casually shifted on the street and headed on to a bar.


firstdates11 Source: NBC

18. It’s not just slick young things on First Dates USA though, oh no.

In the second half they introduce a ~lovely~ elderly couple.

firstdates12 Source: NBC

Again, reassuring.

19. In fairness, the producers have nailed nearly every aspect of what makes First Dates one of the most addictive shows on telly.

20. On top of the success stories, there was a tragic shutdown right at the end (a staple of any good episode, let’s be honest).

One for the ages:

Her: I definitely feel like there wasn’t quite the spark
Him: Well I would have gone on a second date

firstdates13 Source: NBC


21. We would watch every single episode of this in one sitting, to be honest.

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About the author:

David Elkin

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