Do It Like They Do On The Discovery Channel

You never know when you’ll meet that special someone. For that matter, you never know when you’ll meet a camera crew and two of your true love’s friends or family members dedicated to making the two of you lucky people fall in love. When Elizabeth Totman ’03 left Cambridge 1 after dinner with friends earlier this fall, she certainly never expected to run into a network television-produced matchmaking team.

“Would you date the guy in this picture?” an older woman and thirty-something man asked Totman and her friends. They quizzed the girls on their interests and snapped Polaroids. The inquisitive pair were researching for the Discovery Channel’s new daytime dating series, “Perfect Partner,” set to debut Dec. 30.

The show, a spin-off of the BBC’s hit of the same name, gives two teams—one made up of family, the other of friends—the opportunity to pick a date for the lonely heart of their nearest and dearest. The teams roam around the single’s hometown searching for willing parties to play potential soul-mate. Each team then chooses a perfect partner who is taken on two fabulous dates caught on camera. Blossoming romance or no, the lucky singleton must then give the verdict on whether family or friends make the best matchmakers.

This fall’s Cambridge contestant was David, a 29-year-old event organizer. His mother and brother agreed that of all the women they interviewed for a date with David, Totman would be the best match.

The Discovery Channel’s take on reality TV romance resulted in a much tamer tête-à-tête than is standard for shows like “The Bachelor” or “elimiDATE.” The first date proved to be a multicultural learning experience, with the couple participating in a traditional tea ceremony at a Japanese Cultural Center followed by step dancing at an Irish-American club. In a happy coincidence, the night’s activities matched Totman’s passions—she studied in Dublin last spring, and is interested in East Asian Studies—and provided plenty of conversation to buffer the inevitable on-camera, blind-date uneasiness.

“Of course it’s going to be awkward. I was lucky because he had a sense of humor,” says Totman. “I don’t think you really believe you are on camera. It doesn’t seem like it’s real. You just forget about it for awhile.”

But did sparks fly? Although single-guy David declared his family—and Totman—winners of the perfect partner challenge, Totman herself wasn’t as enamoured and a third date with David hasn’t worked out. Still, Totman is adamant she would do it all again given the opportunity.

“I was talking with my friends about whether we would do it. I’d probably do it. We talked about which team you would trust, and we all came to the conclusion that the family members would probably be better at picking a boyfriend or girlfriend,” she says.

“Perfect Partner” is currently accepting applications to appear on the show at www.discovery.com. Totman’s episode airs in January.

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