As an individual who attempts to matchmake her friends and enthusiastically passes out crackers for Saint Sarkis Day, I was delighted when I saw posts on Instagram advertising a Miaseen production—The Armenian Dating Show. The show matches single Armenian men and women and pairs them up on a blind date. But here’s the catch: potential dates of the featured cast members first have to meet their prospective date’s family.
The show is amusing as the notion of dating in Armenian culture is wrapped up in its own joys, difficulties, awkwardness and exhilaration. The cast alludes to this as they seek to answer the question of why they chose to participate in the show during the confessionals. The concept of having a potential love interest meet one’s family first isn’t exactly foreign to Armenian families, as potential couples often are introduced at church or Armenian-related events where immediate and extended families are often present. Yet, unlike in Indian or Bengali culture, Armenians do not participate in arranged marriages. Meeting the family first is the crux of the show and perhaps the most affable aspect, given that nearly all Armenian parents desire for their son or daughter to find an Armenian mate.
Dissimilar to the real world where dating is kept private from the family (probably not true for Armenians), viewers are treated to insider information such as what type of person would be a good fit for their child; family members also reveal their thoughts about the potential matches. What makes the show truly shine is the participants’ ability to be vulnerable about how the dates went. After being turned down for a second date twice, Shant, for example, has candidly shared how difficult the process can be. His father echoes a similar sentiment but praises his son’s willingness to participate.
The Armenian Dating Show distinguishes itself from other dating shows in that meaningful topics are presented, such as divorce, rejection and partnership. It is refreshing to see Shant’s father openly explain his family dynamics and the common concerns of a potential match. Likewise, it is endearing to watch Vanessa’s family enthusiastically list all her character traits to her suitors. The show captures how unwieldy dating can be, but also highlights humorous moments, such as Vanessa’s relatives instantly recognizing one of her blind dates, Hampik.
Undoubtedly, the excitement of the show extends long after each episode has aired. Social media stories are filled with viewers’ reactions and the comment section of each episode’s YouTube page is filled with a multitude of opinions about how the dates progressed, who the cast members would match well with, and which family needs a spinoff series. I too am just as invested and have enjoyed conversations with friends in which we share our perspectives and exchange our own mishap dating stories.
Overall, it is wonderful to see Armenian media content that explores the experiences of young Armenians in the United States. I am hoping that at least one of the matches results in a marriage so viewers can be treated to a reality version of My Big Fat Armenian Wedding.