Ellie and David – episode five of Dates – was probably the funniest so far. It’s not really a laugh out loud show but I smiled a few times this episode. It was good to see the likeable David back from episode one, and Ellie grew on me, though she grated at first.
Sheridan Smith’s character aside, all the females in this show have been a little annoying. In this episode, we have Ellie, a quirky teenager, on a date with the 34-year-old lorry driver, who is still hung up on Mia from the first episode.
I was all ready to criticise Ellie for conforming to the Manic Pixie Dream Girl trope – were a quirky female character in a film enters the life of a brooding, lonely, male character and solves all his problems – but then she was revealed to be only 19. I don’t think that completely invalidates the criticism though. It explains Ellie’s quirkiness but the plot and characters still conform to that overused cliché, right up to the overhead shot of a male and female character lying together looking up at the sky (and no, having the characters address the cliché – ‘it’s what they do in films’ – doesn’t legitimise it. For one thing, they used many elements of the trope beyond this one scene).
The acting from Will Mellor was good again, and Montanna Thompson played a big part in making Ellie likable despite her annoying characteristics. Both actors were aided by some decent writing and dialogue, and it’s interesting to compare it to episode four’s flawed dialogue. In that episode a character looking to jog conversation asked ‘What do you hate most about yourself?’ ‘I’m a very good liar,’ was the reply. ‘Who do you lie to?’ ‘Myself mostly.’
In this episode, a character looking to jog conversation asked ‘Why did you start internet dating?’ ‘Because I was lonely,’ was the reply. There is a subtle difference between those scenes, and that difference results in the first seeming overwritten and artificial. The second meanwhile is more straightforward and appears more natural as a result, and still manages to convey as much character detail.
This episode added to what we learned from the David and Mia film, and mirrored that episode in places. Ellie sent a text from David’s phone telling Mia to ‘go fuck herself,’ before cajoling David to show up at her door, at which point he abandoned Ellie and disappeared inside to fuck Mia.
Mia is supposed to be David’s weakness but it is still out of character for him to just callously abandon Ellie like that. Nothing in the previous 60 minutes in which he’s been on screen suggests he’d be that much of a dick. Most of the episode was good though, and I hope Ellie appears again in the show.
- I’m struggling to track down a full episode list for Dates. Channel 4 and the Radio Times have a little bit each about the next two episodes (there’s nine in total) with episode six bringing back Erica from the lesbian episode, and episode seven bringing back Stephen and Mia (airing next Tuesday and Wednesday respectively).