Set to premiere this February, exciting new reality series Dating Unlocked, follows daters in the LGBTQ2S+ community as they compete for the chance of true love.
The show is set to make its debut on February 11th, 2022 on OUTtv and AppleTV+ just in time for Valentine’s Day.
We had the opportunity to chat with Creator Charlie David about wanting to provide the LGBTQ2S+ community with a show around Valentine’s Day that represented who they were on screen – especially at a time when we’re all surrounded by heteronormative imagery of love.
Kat: Where did the inspiration for “Dating Unlocked” come from?
Charlie: Dating Unlocked is a reality series featuring LGBTQ people, who despite the evergreen popularity of the dating format, are often excluded from or tokenized in the storytelling, reinforcing old ideas that queer people are not deserving of love or relationships – traditional or otherwise. Changing that story is really important to me and my partner, Patrick Ware and on a road trip from Toronto to Montreal we developed the concept for the show. For a very long time, Patrick and I didn’t always feel comfortable holding hands walking down the street, booking a couples’ spa day, or requesting one bed and not two when checking into a hotel. Even living in a progressive country like Canada, gay marriage only became legal in 2005 when I was 25 years old, so there’s all those formative years prior feeling like an unequal member of our society.
We want to make sure Valentine’s Day and the whole month of February is a time for LGBTQ lovers too and Dating Unlocked shows that love, dating and relationships are for everyone in society – including those that don’t fall into the majority. We have an incredible cast and crew working on this show and our goal is to engage the hearts and minds of our audience by amplifying the stories of those who have previously felt unseen or alone. Dating Unlocked is our big gay Valentine to the world.
Kat: What do you hope fans connect with from the show?
Charlie: I really hope that when people watch Dating Unlocked they have an opportunity to see themselves and the kind of love and relationships they’re looking for reflected on screen. We invited so many different people with an incredible variety of experiences and desires to be part of the cast. That richness really shines through and so I feel like there’s bound to be resonance in their experience for the audience. I hope that Dating Unlocked creates some conversations – around consent, communication, and honest talk about our wants and needs in any relationship.
Kat: What did you find was the most challenging part of the process?
Charlie: Casting Dating Unlocked was some seriously challenging calculus! The straight dating shows have it easy, in terms of putting together a bunch of men and women. For our series, we had to take into consideration gender identity, sexuality, interests, kinks, monogamy versus open or poly – there were a lot of factors in each human and so our calculation of who may or may not jive with who was extremely fun but we were also crossing our fingers pretty hard in high hopes!
Kat: What did you learn along the way?
Charlie: We aimed to create a different kind of reality dating show. We didn’t want to fall into bad habits we’ve seen on other reality TV – because we had the opportunity to make something new and to also make something better. Open communication and consent were a priority. This was a no drugs/no alcohol situation – which is certainly not always the case in reality TV. We wanted our daters to lower their own inhibitions naturally and by their own volition. When they choose to explore intimacy, they are in the driver seat – for whatever that means to them and the person or people they are with. Intimacy can be a deep conversation, it can be holding hands or a slow dance – it can also be a strip tease or making out. But however they want to pursue getting to know the other daters, we wanted to ensure there was always discussion and ongoing consent practiced, because that’s sexy.
Our director, Sam Coyle, and I had a conversation as we were prepping for the series and wanted to clearly communicate to our whole team, to everyone on the cast and crew – ‘we don’t yuck someone else’s yum.’ And if it’s not clear – that means we maintain an open mind and heart, we don’t judge, we welcome people to share and explore. When we do that, we have some awesome transformational moments of ‘aha’ both within ourselves and within the daters on the show – and that makes some great television.
Kat: What’s next?
Charlie: I’m really excited to launch the second season of www.avocadotoasttheseries.com in June. It’s such a fun comedy to work on and the cast and crew are absolutely incredible. We have such a creative community in Toronto and I feel so lucky to be a part of making fun, funny and conversation starter television here.
Dating Unlocked is created and produced by Charlie David and Patrick Ware, directed by Sam Coyle (AVOCADOTOAST THE SERIES, HAZY LITTLE THING), and hosted by Yaz Harris.