Would you like to have a month's worth of dates in one night? Want to shop for a potential mate but hate all the leg work? Need a service that can help you find your true love without dealing with the Mailer Daemons and other inconveniences of online dating? The 21st century's answer to all these problems is speed dating.
Designed by Rabbi Yaacov Deyo in 1998 as a way to help Jewish singles meet each other, speed dating is now a common practice enjoyed by people of different religions, ages, sexual orientations, etc. The rules may vary by event, but the general idea is that men and women sign up for the event, held in a bar or a club, the men move down the line of women (or from table and table), and you have a limited amount of time (say 1, 3, or 5 minutes) to figure out if the person is worth getting to know better before time runs out and it's time to switch. Participants don't personally exchange or solicit any contact information; you turn a list of names/id numbers into the organizer, and if there's a mutual attraction, they'll connect you.
The obvious advantages of speed dating in Real Life are that it provides a way to meet a lot of people in a short amount of time, eliminates pressure to ask for phone numbers, and doesn't allow much time for things to turn awkward. It has a lot of potential in fiction, too: it can serve as a great hunting ground for the perp in an episode of a detective drama, or it allows you to show a fun montage of the main character(s) meeting lots of weird and/or annoying people, like a personal Terrible Interviewees Montage sequence, or it can provide An Aesop about first impressions. Using the last one is probably not the best idea because one of the reasons speed dating makes a lot of scientific sense is that we actually do decide whether or not we're attracted to someone very quickly, some studies say within the first thirty seconds. Yes, love is, quite literally, a crapshoot. If there are No Sparks now, there won't be later, or so it would seem.
In any case, speed dating can be a lot of fun in fiction and reality.
- In season 2 of Aggressive Retsuko Retsuko's mother manipulates her into going speed dating, after her more traditional matchmaking attempts fail. She runs into Gori, who apparently goes to those events for fun, and they both manage to get suckered in by the same guy.
- In issue #2 of Loki: Agent of Asgard Loki goes speed dating. Well, they're actually there to keep an eye on their mark, but they do meet Verity, who becomes a recurring character, and possible BFF, later. From Verity's point of view it's pretty much Terrible Interviewees Montage as she "next"els everybody pretty much after one sentence. One man tries to claim that Roxxon is charity for example.
- In issue #118 of The Simpsons, Comic Book Guy told his experience in speed dating at Moe's tavern. At the end, he was exhausted from going table to table.
- The entire story for On the Application of Time and Motion Efficiency Studies to Initial Relationship Formation within the Triptych Continuum. After Rarity makes the mistake of telling Twilight that the designer can generally judge whether a date or chance meeting has any chance to lead into something more within three minutes, Twilight sets up an experiment with forty-four ponies to see if everypony else makes their decisions with the same speed. And Rarity, as the creator of the idea, gets to be part of the group. It doesn't end well for anypony.
- Shows up in The 40-Year-Old Virgin where the guys sign up to help Andy find an easy date. Hilarity Ensues.
- There's a speed dating event in Hitch that gets interrupted by Hitch and his ex having a big argument. One frustrated woman asks them to stop disrupting the event because she's desperate and hasn't gotten laid IN A YEAR - and realizes the whole room heard her say that.
- The main character in I'll See You in My Dreams is talked into joining a speed dating session for senior citizens, but ultimately finds all the participants unsatisfying; though she does run into her love interest later in the parking lot.
- Law & Order: Special Victims Unit: A serial rapist played by Dean Cain used speed dating to hunt for victims. SVU put the pattern together after three victims and sent Olivia undercover. Her last date before the perp was with a guy who collected Pez dispensers.
- NCIS: A murder victim recently attended a speed dating event, so the team sends Ziva undercover in case she met her killer there and he shows up for the second night. The catch is that they decide Ziva ought to assume the personality of the victim to try to attract the same man... and the victim was a big computer nerd.
- House: Wilson learns that every woman in the world knows someone who died of cancer, House Sherlock Scans a woman who Sherlock Scanned him, and Chase tries as hard as he can to turn women off and fails.
- Ned's Declassified School Survival Guide: Moze arranges this for Ned after Suzie moves away. Tip for girls: Telling a guy you only shower once a month is not attractive. Every girl he met had a flaw so cringeworthy (i.e. a horse-like laugh, shaving her neck, or having a man's voice) that Ned ultimately decides that the hottest one was a cross-dressed Cookie.
- Psych, in the episode "He Loves Me, He Loves Me Not, He Loves Me, Oops He's Dead"
- Monk: Monk went to a speed-dating event to get a chance to talk to a suspect, and in the meantime was awkward and uncomfortable with all the other women he had to talk to first.
- In Ashes to Ashes (2008), Drake uses speed dating as part of a plan to catch a criminal targeting women through a dating agency. Of course, this was 1983.
- In an episode of Charmed, Piper held a speed dating event at P3 and got Paige to go there to boost the beautiful women quota.
- In an episode of CSI: Miami a speed dater's death kicked off the plot; in the Cold Open, Caine quips accordingly:
"Well, you know what they say, Frank..." *sunglasses* "...speed kills." YEAAAAAAAAAAAAAAAH!
- In one episode of The Vicar of Dibley, Geraldine tries speed-dating. Her prospective partners turn out to comprise all the regular characters. Including the Happily Married Alice and Hugo. Together.
- iCarly had the episode iSpeedDate.
- One episode of Reba had Cheyenne send Reba to a speed dating event to help her get back on the horse after her divorce. Reba's friend comes along because it's "like little bite-sized man samples!" Reba ends up getting a date out of it, while the friend doesn't.
- Yes, Dear has the episode "Speed Dating". Billy drags Jimmy along with it due to Billy's lack of confidence, but then Greg does it when he wishes to get more matches than Jimmy to prove his own manhood, and then Greg and Jimmy try to compete over a woman who separately becomes a match for both of them...
- Alien Loves Predator frequently features Abe's adventures in speed dating. Given that Abe is a Lovable Sex Maniac with No Social Skills— not to mention a Xenomorph— it goes... Poorly.
- Bug Martini: The narrator says liked to try, not speed dating, but a speed relationship. This includes everything from short runs on the beach to quick little spats to very brief sex but not for the reasons you think.
- Cats N' Cameras had a short arc where some of the minor characters went speed-dating. A lot of the guys were creepy, one time two girls were put together due to a gender disparity, and a few pairs called each other up later.
- The basic premise behind the web series Speedie Date.
- Jubilee Media's video series Versus 1 has episodes involving one person speed-dating numerous potential matches in a variety of circumstances, some of which involve not seeing the dating partners until he/she has selected one and eliminated all the others.
- Totally Spies!: Clover once tried out "hyper-sonic dating," which she describes as making speed-dating "look like a long-term relationship." It's basically identical to speed-dating, except you get to arrange to date anyone you like at the first event for a whole minute to get to know them better.
- 6teen had this in an episode where Jonesy sets up a Speed Dating service and the gang attempts it.
- The Simpsons: When Marge develops amnesia in "Regarding Margie", Patty and Selma take her to a speed dating event so she can meet a man who is not Homer.
- Bob's Burgers: In "My Fuzzy Valentine", Linda sets up a speed-dating event for singles at the restaurant. It gets somewhat derailed by Sergeant Boscoe, who's there staking out a jewelry-store robber the police are after, and has a rather more cynical view of romance.
- Gary the Rat took part in a speed-dating event once, starting out fairly confident about his odds. However, his expression has noticeably deteriorated by the end, as every girl remarked on him being a rat and immediately left the table.