Forget MAFS and The Bachelor, this dating show keeps it real
IT CAN be tough out there in the dating world with a myriad of apps, flirty DMs and the threat of ghosting.
Looking for love is even harder for those on the autism spectrum, who often lack the practical skills to help them navigate what can be a confusing experience.
The award-winning team behind the ABC's eye-opening documentary series Employable Me is back to follow a neuro-diverse group of singles dipping their toes in the dating pool.
Across four episodes, Love on the Spectrum follows seven young adults as they explore the unpredictable world of dating and relationships.
"We were working with a lot of young adults on the autism spectrum (for Employable Me) and just kept hearing the same stories of people who are single," series producer and director Cian O'Clery tells The Guide.
"Not to generalise, but we did hear a lot of stories from these young guys and girls saying, 'yes I want a job but I would love to meet someone'. We found out a lot of people hadn't even dated.
"For two of our subjects, the most important thing for them in life is to find a partner and they've never been on a date. Something's not right when people are wanting something so badly and there's so little opportunity for them."
The filmmaker says making sure his subjects were comfortable was even more important this time around.
"It's more of a delicate area to explore. Looking for jobs is not as intimate, I suppose," he says.
"One of the challenges was to make sure the people understood our intentions were positive and we were making a series for the right reasons.
"Interestingly, everyone was great and they found the experience quite a positive one. You would think it would be quite daunting and imposing to have a film crew filming your first date, maybe they were happy with us being there because we were providing support and structure."
Like Employable Me, the series breaks down stereotypes about the diverse range of people who fall on the spectrum.
"There's a real misconception out there that just because somebody may not be great at reading social cues or communicating their feelings, it doesn't mean they're not feeling those feelings," he says.
"Families say they often feel things quite strongly, to the point it can make things quite difficult.
"This (love) is something they've wanted for a long time. Everyone who participated came to us. We put the call out through various ways and we received hundreds of stories."
The series also introduces two loved-up couples on the spectrum. Cian says he hopes these success stories inspire others to not give up on their search for a soul mate.
"It was important to show couples who had found love because we want people to see why it can work," he says. "Hopefully those stories will show people out there who may be feeling a little hopeless to keep trying.
"Hopefully this series will at least be a conversation starter."
Love on the Spectrum premieres tonight at 8.30 on ABC-TV.