Dates is a Channel 4 original programme of short self-contained episodes looking at the dating lives of different couples. The episodes surround one date in the life of different couples, all in London. As a series, though, the show brings the couples together and has characters interact outside their pair, being a conducive whole rather than separate stories on the same theme.
Over a number of episodes, Mia (Oona Chaplin) learns to let down her guard and get closer to David (Will Mellor); Jenny (Sheridan Smith) begins to trust men more as she moves on from bad experiences, but also rebuilds her own self-confidence; and Erica (Gemma Chan) comes to terms with her sexuality. Their various dates involve conflict and revelations with promiscuous Nick (Neil Maskell), conceited Stephen (Ben Chaplin), confident Kate (Katie McGrath), wise Ellie (Montanna Thompson), friendly Callum (Greg Mc Hugh), and deceptive Christian (Andrew Scott).
Not to be confused with First Dates, a similar show that began airing on the same channel a week later, but in a reality format rather than fictional.
Tropes to be found on these dates are:
- All Gays Are Promiscuous: Erica infers that she believes Kate has had a lot of lesbian sex and has introduced a lot of women to it. Kate drops her exterior and shyly replies that it won't be anywhere near as many as she's thinking.
- The Beard: Callum for Erica (for a little bit).
- Big Brother Instinct: Erica says that her brother is just protective of her, though she might be more blindly trapped under his thumb.
- Blind Date: There are a few, some more successful than others.
- Broken Bird:
- Kate shows shades of this, as well, especially when she looks like she feels she might have been Stood Up at the start.
- Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest: Ignored, chivalry seems to have died.
- Coming-Out Story: Erica to Kate.
- Dance of Romance: Remarkably, only the Erica/Kate date features dancing.
- Does Not Like Men: Kate, an "angry lesbian with a dick complex", but only because it's implied she's had relationships ruined by her girlfriends going after men.
- Drowning Our Romantic Sorrows: Seems to be one reason why Kate and Erica happily down the Bellini's (the others being Liquid Courage and a taste for alcohol).
- Dude, She's a Lesbian: Subverted. Kate and Erica oblige to dance with guys at the club, but gravitate towards each other and end up making out on the dance floor.
- Forced Out of the Closet: Erica accidentally leaves her phone on to her brother when talking to Kate (a conversation that includes shouting she's gay).
- Have You Tried Not Being a Monster?: Erica's brother thinks this way.
- Internal Reveal: Erica comes out to her brother and Callum.
- Last Het Romance: On her date with Kate, Erica talks about a trip to Tuscany where she split with her last boyfriend. Of course, she then goes on a date with Callum, but comes out to him and properly stands up to her family regarding being gay and dating.
- Lipstick Lesbian: Erica to Kate's butch.
- Love Before First Sight: Kate, spying Erica from the bar when she first walks in.
- Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: One of the first thing Kate notes about her Chinese-descent date Erica is that she seems to like being told what to do (which becomes a Call-Back when they get into the thick of the plot, as Kate calls for her to speak up for once).
- Modesty Bedsheet: Is half-heartedly attempted.
- No Bisexuals: Invoked by Kate, who initially responds to Erica having previously dated guys far less sympathetically than she is later on."I'm so sick of women who go this way and that on a whim, it's not complicated, it's annoying and not honest... maybe you're just straight and bored."
- No Romantic Resolution: Ultimately, none of the dates end with a happily ever after, but the characters have come a long way in their own outlook on their personal lives and may well pair up.
- Oop North: David is the only character who doesn't seem to be from London. Note that he's supposedly from Yorkshire, but his actor's from Manchester.
- Parent ex Machina: Erica's brother wants her to be straight, even if it's just acting.
- Parental Abandonment: Kate's family don't talk to her because she's gay.
- Perky Goth: Kate, complete with all of her actress's piercings and Raven Hair, Ivory Skin.
- Please Don't Leave Me: Both Kate and Erica get one in.
- Queer Romance: Erica/Kate.
- The Reveal: That "Celeste" is actually called Mia, and that she had been a client of Stephen's.
- Sophisticated as Hell: Kate, summed up by "now put some clothes on so we can get some fucking brunch".
- Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kate and Erica, respectively.
- Twofer Token Minority Couple: Kate and Erica are the only interracial couple and the only gay couple — with Erica being both Chinese-descent and gay (Kate could be said to be foreign and gay, given her actress is Irish and her ethnic background never established, too).
- Tsundere: Kate swaps between an insecure romantic (who can be scared enough to be angry) and a reliable, confident, shoulder for Erica to lean on with the passion to coax her to be honest with herself.
- Virgin-Shaming: Kate asks Erica how many women she's slept with, and scoffs when she won't answer. Even when Erica later reveals it's three (including Kate), she thinks it's miserable.