IRL - In Real Love
Onto the next release of the weekend and I finished watching the new Netflix series IRL – In Real Love which is probably the first time that Netflix has ventured into the dating space in India. One of the reasons why I was excited about the show was because the show marked a mini reunion of the ‘RRR’ of Roadies – Raghu, Rajiv and Rannvijay(along with a brand new addition Gauahar Khan). The trio has been an integral part of my impressionable years as I was able to learn a lot from Roadies which was so much more than any other reality show.
I have always been an admirer of Raghu and Rajiv from the creative stand point. The two of them are almost synonymous to some of the most entertaining shows in the form of Roadies and Splitsvilla, so much so that I would watch anything that they are involved in, creatively speaking. So when I did get to know about this new Netflix dating show, I was quite curious and looking forward to it. Of course I wasn’t expecting it to be as intense or intellectual as Roadies but my curiosity was always there. So then does IRL – In Real Love manage to impress, lets find out.
The Not So Good
Dating as a concept is still evolving in India and straight up this show would feel alien to many viewers. In times of Tinder and Bumble still finding its feet, it makes for an interesting experiment on whether online dating is better or offline dating. And that is essentially what the show caters to, through this ‘experiment’.
The show for me was essentially about the two halves, much like the case is with every relationship. Firstly, it did take me more than usual to warm up to the show and its concept which initially did seem to be pretty one-dimensional. The thing about shows like Splitsvilla is that you are acquainted to all contestants right from the beginning and eventually you are on a journey with them. But here, the approach of introducing only a few contestants was a bit of a hit and a miss for me. But if I were to look at the larger picture, it all did make sense at the end.
The conversations at the beginning are just so cheesy and frivolous that it was almost like a turn off for me. The levels of flirting is fair and I am all game for it myself, but if it makes you cringe, then there is definitely a problem. Probably, a better appeoach could have been to get a little deeper into the psyche of the contestants as opposed to getting cheesy. But then that is not how a modern day relationship works and so it is what it is. Having said that, I would think many viewers would almost leave the show at this point even before the good part kicks in! On a side note, I did miss Raghu and Rajiv in front of the camera too.
The show does take its time to warm up by dabbling with the dynamics of different characters and their equations with one another, with the ongoing experiment of Online Dating Vs Offline Dating playing out as an undercurrent. I slowly but surely did find myself getting invested in their journey in what started to become entertaining after probably the 3rd or the 4th episode. It almost started becoming a guilty pleasure on reading personalities and studying the different equations, which is almost a trademark of Raghu and Rajiv in creating such situations. Speaking of which, the drama did feel a little more eased out and organic, allowing all the contestants to make decisions unlike some of the other shows where a twist a introduced against the run of play!
The show is on the ascendency in the second half when even the conversations begin to get more serious and less frivolous. As they say, it is all hunky-dorey at the beginning of a relationship and the true test lies much later. So the situations introduced at meant to bring out the vulnerability of individuals that does include jealousy, insecurity and vulnerability which I felt was pretty well done. This is when the show truly shines and it does make the proceedings fascinating. Even the final act of the show was pretty interesting where all the equations were met with a final conclusion. Again, none of it is intellectual and if that is your cup of tea then this show isn’t for you.
We live in an era wherein we are surrounded with options be it on food apps or OTT apps or even dating apps. So from the concept point of view, the show doesn’t really disappoint. I knew exactly what I was signing up for and it did deliver that although with a wobbly start. Dating as a concept is always exciting and you are at your best behavior in the first meeting. Yet as you start to get comfortable with the other person, other factors start creeping in that often does result in a ‘complicated’ relationship. The fundamental idea of why you may have started off with that person is often lost amidst the plethora of options that you have. Add to that, the virtual world and your options are never ending. And that is where the show does score in highlighting that fact.
IRL – In Real Love is a fluffy, frivolous and fascinating dating experiment that does deliver exactly on what it promises. Nothing more, nothing less. Watch it and move on. Available on Netflix.