Love on the Spectrum, follows the lives of people on the autism spectrum with understanding, insight and joy

We are spoiled for choice when it comes to watching dating shows on Netflix. The streaming service has released a slew of these, including “The Bachelor” “Dating Around,” “Love is Blind,” “Too Hot to Handle” and “The Circle.” But the newest addition, produced right here in Australia, is provoking some of us to take a closer look at the genre.

“Finding love can be hard for anyone,” a narrator says during one of the first scenes of “Love on the Spectrum.” Then, the catch: “This series follows young adults on the autism spectrum as they navigate the confusing world of relationships and dating.”

In 2019 audiences watched the show’s 11 autistic participants go on dates, get well- meaning advice from family members and wonder about what love might feel like when eventually found.  “It would be like a fairytale,” one participant said.  “A natural high, I suppose,” said another.

“Love on the Spectrum” is fast dominating conversations for its non-scripted shows featuring an autistic cast. Audiences around the world are conflicted about some of its promises and setbacks with some, of the opinion that the show accurately portrays the dating lives of autistic people, while others warn it degrades them and is voyeuristic.

“I have autism. I’m amazed with love on the spectrum. It helped me understand dating more than ever before.” Eric Thompson, Jackson County Medford Oregon.

Dr Kerry Magro Ed.D said, what he loved about ‘Love on the Spectrum’ as someone with Autism was  seeing it as a resource for those with autism facing challenges, “Growing up with autism, one of the most difficult challenges for me was finding meaningful relationships. Barriers such as having trouble understanding the perspectives of others and some other social challenges made dating challenging. It was tough at times because I couldn’t find any resources to help me out.”

Others say that the dates felt like they picked a person not because of compatibility but because they were also disabled and that may suggest that we shouldn’t be dating non-disabled people.

Expert, Dr Elizabeth Laugeson hosts a “dating boot camp” later in the series and says, “it is a common misconception that people on the spectrum are happy not to date, not to be social. This programme busts that myth, and plenty of others, too. The pride with which many of these people talk about autism, and how it shapes their personalities, is important, as is the fact that there is no one “autistic type” here. For some, there is sadness that dating has been so difficult. For others, they know they are simply waiting for a person who gets them.”

Despite mixed reviews, the show has been a commercial success and has received an overwhelming positive reception. According to the production company’s website, the second season is currently underway for Australia. It’s not clear yet if Netflix will also pick up it up for viewers across the globe.