First Impressions – Dating Alone: Ep 1 – 4 – 나홀로 연애중: 1회 – 4회


The latest variety show from JTBC is fluttering the heart of celebrities despite the fact that it is only a simulation dating game.  Every two weeks, one female celebrity pretends to go on a virtual date with four male participants.  At each stage, the male participants are faced with a question or dilemma that often comes up in the real dating world and must choose from a selection of multiple choice answers based on how they would face the situation themselves.  Their responses could help them to either score points or lose points.

Especially considering this program airs on Saturday night, a lot of critics compared it to We Got Married but I would say that it’s a very different type of show.  Each player goes into a booth with a monitor and they get to simulate the date through actions or responses.  Some activities give them a 4D experience like tasting food or a horse riding machine to emulate food scenes or horse riding scenes, respectively.  Based on the answers that are given, it provides the male celebrities to discuss various dating situations and what they think the female celebrities would like.

The show’s five main panelists are Jun Hyun Moo, Sung Shi Kyung, Kim Min Jong, Jang Dong Min and Cross Gene’s Shin with the sixth spot going to a rotating male guest.  2AM’s Jung Jin Woon and GOT7’s Jackson were the guests while APink’s Jung Eun Ji and SNSD’s Kwon Yuri were the dates in the first few episodes.  It’s nice to see that with the male panelist we get a difference in personalities and ages to reflect to a variety approaches to the questions.

Jun Hyun Moo and Sung Shi Kyung are the main hosts but often rotate MC duties with another panelist when they are participating in the dates themselves.  The male panelist who is unable to rack up enough points in the first week must switch out with one of the MC’s for the second week.  Korean viewers can also play along live by texting their answers into the show and win prizes.

I don’t know if JTBC happens to be a very male driven channel but I find that their shows are often skewed towards the male perspective.  Abnormal Summit, Witch Hunt and now Dating Alone all have male panelists and I just think it might do JTBC some good to mix things up a bit.  I suppose it’s a coincidence that all these shows have Sung Shi Kyung on them?

What I do like about the show is that after they reveal their answers to the questions, they all sit down to discuss why they selected that answer based on what they know of the female celebrity and how she’s reacted to certain answers in the past.  I found it hilarious that SNSD’s Yuri incited a lot of flummoxed reactions from the men.  She certainly proved the men are from Mars and women are from Venus.  Not every woman is going to answer these questions in the same way and that’s what makes the program fun.

The biggest challenge for the show is whether they are able to create as many different kinds of boy meets girl scenarios and various dating topics that will help keep the show fresh.

It’s almost important for the male panelists to be fun and provide a myriad of reactions as it is a variety show, after all.  However, the reactions can make viewers feel a bit more connected to a program that widens the intimacy gap through its virtual concept.  All in all, I’m cautiously optimistic about the show and looking forward to its 3rd male guest, Abnormal Summit’s Zhang Yuan.  He’s quite conservative in his approach to relationships and I always want to argue with him on that debate program but hoping he might surprise me on Dating Alone.



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