The Gaeltacht was essentially a sex camp created by Éamon de Valera
In the world of the reality show First Dates Hotel (Channel 4, Thursday), the beloved mops are sent on a special vacation where the gentle caretakers get them to speak the language of love. Irish tribal memory inherently understands this phenomenon.
To Irish people, the language of love is known as ‘Irish’, and the exotic vacation was held in a strange, more spartan resort known as ‘Gaeltacht’. There, Irish teenagers learned the erotic art of céilí dance and the joys of kissing someone from the Midlands who doesn’t pop their gum and whose father owns a shop.
Yes, the Gaeltacht was essentially a sex camp established by Éamon de Valera to ensure that he had a steady supply of workers to send overseas. It certainly didn’t improve our Irish, and it certainly gave all of us something to say in confession (which we had in our day instead of Twitter).
This week’s couples include Zoe and Joe, who indulge in ‘jokes’ but also discuss cat possession, fatphobic bullying, and bereavement.
It’s a little different at the First Dates Hotel, where love-seeking people are sent to the sunnier Amalfi coast. There, they lounge around the hotel pool before eating what looks like chopped food but cleverly arranged, in front of a human made up of the same makeup. (Aren’t we all the equivalent of artfully arranged shredder food?)
I love First Dates, and therefore I love its slightly damaged service industry-themed spin-off. I love that both shows feature people of all ages and gender preferences who are heartbroken and emotionally hurt and who wear human clothes. The showmakers don’t just fill the hotel with brash, boastful hunks walking around naked with their weird, bumpy bodies until something grotesque happens. You can block the date to find out more.
And I love how the whole resort has an army of waiters, bar people, receptionists, and room cleaners who each act as gently encouraging love coaches for these temporary lovers and are deeply invested in their romances but seemingly just watching.
I imagine this is what the world must be like for contemporary pandas. (“Dude, everyone here is okay with me continuing, but I’m afraid that’s more their thing than mine,” is what I imagine the pandas are thinking.)
There are other people here too, who look like plants (spy type rather than vegetative). There’s the sparkling muscular man in tight orange Speedos who dispenses wisdom to shy young men hovering poolside (the job I was originally hired for at The Irish Times), and there’s the woman at the front desk raising her eyebrows at everything as though she’s Kenneth Williams visiting a showroom filled with exotic scabbards.
On RTÉ, David Brophy reminds us that fame and royal celebration are not really what music is for
This week’s couples include Zoe and Joe, who indulge in “jokes” but also discuss cat possession, fatphobic bullying, and bereavement. Their names rhyme, if you pronounce things phonetically (which I do), and frankly, I’ve seen people get married for much worse reasons.
We also have James, who wants to meet a tall man, and Max, who is a self-identified tall man and confesses that he “absolutely smacks me”. I think he speaks metaphorically. Otherwise, this is also something that could happen to the Gaeltacht. Max and James bond over their relatively recent outing and an equally sarcastic sense of humor.
There is also the courageous Liverpudlian Cara and the slightly geeky and bespectacled George. “My conversation is terrible,” George confides to the muscular man in tight Speedos. Yes, something about this muscular guru gets people to confide in him. (Did Jesus wear Speedos?) George gives examples of his “gossip”. It is wrong discuss. George does do not know the language of love, which is why he is here in this chic Gaeltacht.
Turns out George doesn’t need discuss. He just needs to be a good listener and a nice sweet boy. Cara has body image issues and George can’t believe it because he thinks she is beautiful. And that’s the sustained pleasure of the First Dates format. The people on it are genuine and goofy and funny and they mean well and they deserve love.
The episode is capped off by the visit of two former guests, Vanessa and Julian, now comfortably cut off and cohabiting. Then Julian gets down on his knees and a hotel filled with panda-pimping sex facilitators swoon.
Britain’s Got Talent (Virgin Media One, Saturday) started this week with series judge David Walliams, dressed as a queen, descending on threads to the stage. It sounds like treacherous subversion, until you remember that not only does Britain have a real queen (which is like having a Viking or a Centaur), but the show’s point is to control. the commoners to see who is worthy of entertaining her at the Royal Variety Performance.
One act is to apply pieces of clay to their shoulders, on which they then sculpt the contours of a face. It troubles Cowell because that’s how his everyday heads are made
She is basically a sensitive symbol of hereditary wealth and hierarchical worth. It doesn’t matter who she is as long as she is that. So go ahead, Walliams! You might as well be the queen for whatever good or bad it will do to your nation strangely doomed to ironically deferential and ideologically confused stories.
This week’s episode comes close to the bone on a number of things. At one point, a man jumps through literal hoops for Simon Cowell and his grinning sidekicks. To another, someone looking like the devil comes out with a cute costume, red skin, and big black horns (seriously) and sings a surprisingly rich and melodious version of I Want to Break Free. Cowell knows him from the office (hell).
A third act involves applying pieces of clay to their shoulders, on which they then sculpt the contours of a face. It troubles Cowell, because that’s how his everyday heads are made.
Meanwhile, on RTÉ, David Brophy reminds us that fame and royal celebration isn’t really what music is for, as he returns with a new choir on Unsung Heroes (RTÉ One, Thursday). Members are family caregivers who care for spouses with dementia, aging parents and children with disabilities. They subsidize our state and do what they must in a spirit of love and worried exhaustion.
Brophy, a kind-hearted musical evangelist, visits them in their homes and then helps them find their voice in the most beautiful way. But before we even get to that, we see an aging father softly chanting “You are my friend forever” to his disabled adult son, and it’s almost too much for me. Watch this, then watch again next week and remember most people are nice, some people are heroically nice, and everyone should sing along.