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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).

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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: Erica has been in relationships with a number of men, but admits it was just to please her family and provide cover, since she's lesbian. Callum is just the latest of the bunch. With him, she resolves not to keep up the charade any further.
  • Big Brother Instinct: Erica says that her brother is just protective of her, though she might be more blindly trapped under his thumb.
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  • Blind Date: There are a few, some more successful than others.
  • Butch Lesbian: Kate is mildly butch. She's a bit aggressive, showing hostility toward men and bisexual women. Her looks are less masculine than most, but still much more than Erica, with her long hair pulled back so that she appears to have it put into something like a mohawk at first. Overall she's got a goth look, with many piercings.
  • But Not Too Gay: The series shows Kate and Erica post-coitus in bed together, rather than actually having sex. Many straight couples explicitly get it on.
  • Can't Act Perverted Toward a Love Interest: Ignored, chivalry seems to have died.
  • Coitus Ensues:
    • Mia and Stephen impulsively have sex in the alley.
    • Mia and David later have sex in her flat, right after he made a point of insulting her.
    • Jenny and Christian are shown talking on their date, then it cuts to them finishing up having sex in bed.
  • Coming-Out Story: Erica admits she is lesbian to Kate after the pair have sex, and then stops pretending otherwise with her family (after her brother's accidentally learned).
  • Dance of Romance: Erica and Kate dance seductively with each other in a club, then start kissing. Next we see they've slept together.
  • 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: This 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 obligingly dance with two guys at the club, but gravitate towards each other and end up making out on the dance floor. The guys seem to be aware from the start (they had seen them both together) and just happy watching.
  • Forced Out of the Closet: Erica accidentally leaves her phone on in a call with her brother when talking to Kate (a conversation that includes shouting she's gay).
  • Girl-on-Girl Is Hot: The guys who buy drinks for Kate and Erica in the club then invite them to dance seem aware they're on a date together, but don't mind, particularly when they start dancing pretty seductively then kissing. Callum is also similarly very eager to hang out with Kate and Erica, as she lampshades.
  • Groin Attack: Callum is kicked in the balls while he's pinned down by the restaurant staff.
  • Goth: Kate has the look, complete with all of her actress's piercings and Raven Hair, Ivory Skin.
  • Heteronormative Crusader: Erica's brother wants her to be straight, even if she's just acting. Kate's family also doesn't speak to her because she's lesbian.
  • Hollywood Atheist: Averted. Jenny tells Christian (whose religion appears to be very important) that she doesn't believe in God due to the problem of evil. He respects this, and she's portrayed sympathetically (kleptomania notwithstanding).
  • I Have No Son!: Kate's family don't talk to her because she's lesbian. Erica expresses her fear of her family disowning her if she came out as well.
  • Internal Reveal: Erica comes out to her brother and Callum, after having already admitted she's lesbian with Kate.
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Callum is a pretty obnoxious guy, ordering for Erica before she can even speak up, insulting Chinese people (apparently unaware she's British Chinese) and overall coming off as a huge arrogant prick. However, he doesn't actually seem to intend this, being more oblivious than anything, and encourages Erica to stand up and be herself when he learns she's lesbian, which isn't acceptable to her family. Overall, he seems like a well-meaning guy with very poor social skills.
  • Jerkass Has a Point: Callum is obliviously rude, but he's right-Erica must stand up for herself, and not hide that she's lesbian. Eventually she realizes this, and does with his encouragement.
  • 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 both being lesbian and still dating men.
  • Lipstick Lesbian: Erica is highly feminine regarding her appearance and manner, while also lesbian.
  • Love Before First Sight: Kate, spying Erica from the bar when she first walks in.
  • Making Love in All the Wrong Places: Mia abruptly has sex with Stephen up against the wall in the alley behind the pub they had met inside.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Erica is quite feminine while Kate's mildly butch in their clothing and mannerisms. The pair hit it off and become a couple.
  • Mighty Whitey and Mellow Yellow: One of the first thing Kate notes about her British Chinese 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). It's an unusual twist, with a same-sex couple.
  • Modesty Bedsheet: Kate has the bedsheet over her when she wakes up beside Erica after they had sex. Erica later uses it to cover herself as well. Jenny later covers herself this way after having sex with Christian also.
  • Ms. Fanservice: Mia, Kate and Erica are all quite beautiful. In the first case, she wears pretty revealing clothing and has casual sex with men. Kate and Erica show some non-explicit nudity in the wake of having sex.
  • Next Thing They Knew:
    • Kate and Erica dance seductively together, then start making out. Then we cut to them in bed together the next morning after they had sex.
    • Jenny and Christian are talking while on their date, then the following scene has them loudly having sex in his bed.
  • Nice Girl: Erica is a kind and polite woman who's very tolerant even when other people act like asses toward her.
  • No Bisexuals: Invoked by Kate, who initially responds to Erica having previously dated guys far less sympathetically than she is later on, never acknowledging the possibility of her being bi.
    "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.
  • Please Don't Leave Me: Both Erica and Kate say this.
  • Proper Lady: Erica is a very elegant, reserved and genteel woman, aside from when she's drunk, which loosens her up a bit. It's indicated that she struggles with this, since her family won't accept her being lesbian, while expecting her to sacrifice true love for them by getting with a man. She finally stops being this and does what she wants, pursuing a romance with another woman.
  • Queer Romance: Erica and Kate go on a date, then sleep together. After she stands up for herself and refuses to pretend she's straight anymore, Erica says she'll pursue their relationship further.
  • Really Gets Around: Mia freely admits she likes sex and has had it with a lot of guys. She has casual sex with both David and Stephen later. It also turns out she's a former escort.
  • The Reveal: That "Celeste" is actually called Mia, and that she had been a client of Stephen's.
  • Shrinking Violet: Erica is a shy, studiously polite young woman who's a closeted lesbian hiding her sexuality to please her family at first. Her character arc involves defying them to be herself and come out.
  • Sophisticated as Hell: Kate, summed up by "now put some clothes on so we can get some fucking brunch".
  • Sorry, I'm Gay: Erica cuts off her date with Callum by telling him she's lesbian (it was her brother who arranged this, since he won't accept her orientation).
  • Tomboy and Girly Girl: Kate and Erica, respectively. The former is a fairly aggressive woman in masculine clothing, while the latter has a demure, submissive personality (at first) with traditional feminine looks.
  • Toplessness from the Back: Kate briefly sits up naked in bed while she's putting on her clothes, showing her bare back and buttocks.
  • Token Minority Couple: Kate and Erica are the only interracial couple and the only LGBT couple (Mia's played by an actress of mixed race ancestry, but the character's ethnicity isn't brought up, though both her love interests are white men).
  • 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.
  • Twofer Token Minority: Erica is both British Chinese and lesbian. Kate could be said to be foreign and lesbian, given her actress is Irish and her ethnic background wasn't established as well.
  • 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.
  • Wall Bang Her: Mia is shown having sex like this twice. First with Stephen in the alley, then David inside her flat.

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