The reality show that sees one person go on five different dates per episode returns June 12.
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DATING AROUND

At this point we're all pretty much aware that Netflix is an authority when it comes to dating shows — remember when it predicted the future of socially distanced courtship with Love Is Blind? — so let's talk about Dating Around.

On Friday, June 12, the second season of the pretty typical dating show will grace our screens. The series showcases a more traditional style of romance than, say, talking to a person through a wall and proceeding to get engaged without every seeing them. On this show, one person goes on five separate blind dates with other men and/or women. Each half-hour episode kicks off with a friend of the main dater telling us how fun their buddy is and how odd it is that they're still single.

As the dates move from drinks to dinner (and potentially to more drinks), the dater the episode is centered around gets to pick one of the potentials for a followup outing. The daters' ages, backgrounds, and sexual and gender identities all vary, as do their approaches to finding a relationship and what they look for in the elusive one.

If you (unlike me) don't find first dates awkward and cringeworthy and just truly the worst way to spend an evening, then you might well enjoy a show that chronicles the roller coaster that is eating and drinking with a stranger. There's plenty of long pauses, double takes and, okay, fine, the occasional awww moment.

Ahead of season 2 dropping on Netflix, here's what you need to know about how this show works. (Warning: Watching Dating Around may convince you to never date again, or maybe it'll make you realize you're a dating pro — in which case, ugh, share your wisdom, please. Proceed with caution.)

Drinks

Ah, the awkward introduction. What was their name? Should I have gone for the hug? Do I compliment their outfit? Yup, the show's daters pretty much go through the normal motions of any first dates and rush off to the bar, where even ordering a drink can become an ordeal (looking at you, Green Tea Shot Man). As they sip cocktails, a lot of standard issues are covered: age, career, where they're from, how long they've been in the city (season 1 was New York City-based, while season 2 takes us to New Orleans). Before long (or possibly after way too long), a host pops up to tell them their table's ready, and off to eat they go. A pretty standard first date, right? Plus the film crew.

Dinner

After some quick scanning of the menu (thank you, editing!), the couples get into deeper topics of conversation, such as what they're like and what they look for in a relationship, past relationships and their demises, family expectations and, you know, whether they share food and kick puppies. We kid you not, this comes up. This is where you can start to place your bets on which potential partner the dater will want to see again. Some people just aren't into loud chewers, and you know what? That's okay. As they come close to almost clearing their plates (seriously, look out for it — there's always food left over), the dater will usually suggest another drink — unless they're completely not feeling it — and we get to watch them walk to another bar. If things are really going well, you might see some hand-holding action at this point, or at the very least a cringey failed attempt.

More drinks

Post-dinner drinks is where things get exciting, or at least conclusive. Sometimes there's a sneaky kiss, other times there's a "Should we hug? Let's hug!" moment that'll chill your spine or warm your heart, depending on your tolerance for sentimentality. At this point the dater tells a few of the potential matches that they're just not into them, right then and there. Of course, they can't let all the potentials off the hook because viewer suspense is more important than spared feelings. (Or maybe because they haven't fully decided, but if you've ever been on a first blind date, chances are you know somewhere in the first 10-15 minutes if you'll ever see the person again.) Sometimes this rejection happens in shared Lyft for added awkwardness. Yikes.

The second date

Since we know the dater can pick only one person to see again, we're on the edge of our seats as they wait for the potential love of their life to show up for date No. 2. There's some fun staging so it's not revealed too quickly, and then the (we hope happy, still-together) couple walk off (or bike off, it's happened) into the sunset together for what is often a fun, outdoorsy date…

And that's it!

In a maddening twist, there's zero post-date scroll informing us of the new couple's current status. We're left wondering evermore if those crazy kids made it! Fortunately, investigative journalism is alive and well at EW, so if you check back here in a week, we'll update you on the statuses of all the season 2 lovebirds. Until then, get busy cringing watching!

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