On Wednesday, January 10, Virgin Media aired its newest dating show, Generation Dating. Last night’s episode saw 81-year-old Tony be introduced to 22-year-old Isabel, as the pair were tasked with finding a suitable match for one another.
Tony is an elderly widower from Pimlico, who met his late wife in his early thirties and was married to her up until she sadly passed away forty years later. Isabel, on the other hand, is a young professional from Cork with a history of dating men and women and labels herself as bisexual.
Meet Isabel & Tony, our wonderful singletons helping each other find love ?
— Virgin Media Television (@VirginMedia_TV) February 9, 2022
When the pair meet up, they start to understand what the other is looking for in a partner, and it is then that Tony learns about Isabel’s sexuality.
“My preference would always be leaning more towards women,” Isabel begins, “But technically I’d be more so in the middle ground which is bisexual.”
The information isn’t the easiest for Tony to digest, but his open-minded nature and curiosity lead him to ask more questions, such as whether or not being gay is genetic, and how she told her mother.
In these early exchanges, it is evident that Tony is doing his best to comprehend the new information, although all is not clear straight away. Later in the episode, Isabel’s mother is introduced, and she shares her feelings on Tony’s reaction.
“I didn’t know what way he’d feel about Isabel being gay because a lot of people of his age […] mightn’t agree with it or accept it so I’m really happy that he’s so open and understanding and willing to learn about change and be educated about it as well.”
Isabel echos a similar sentiment, saying: “I think he took it well, and I think he was fairly open and he’s very well accepting of things.”
When it comes time for Tony to find a date for Isabel, he heads to Panti Bar, dubbed ‘the most famous gay bar in town’. Here he seeks advice from and has an eye-opening conversation with DJ Kate, and begins his pursuit for an eligible suitor. It is at the Alternative Dublin Boob Pottery class that he eventually finds the perfect date for Isabel, while on the other side of town, she finds a potential partner for him at a local church group.
Tonight, 81-year-old Tony's on a mission to find 22-year-old Isabel a date. ❤️? And what better way to start your search than with a lesson in LGBTQ+ at PantiBar? @pantibliss
— COCO Content (@COCOcontentie) February 9, 2022
And just like that, the dates are underway – Isabel with Casey, and Tony with Rhona. Both are relatively successful, but it is the relationship between the two new friends that captures audiences’ hearts.
The conversations between Tony and Isabel, not only surrounding sexuality but also surrounding things like being mixed-race, growing up in tenement poverty, and discovering your history, allow the pair to bond over the importance of knowing and being your true self. While much of the first episode of Generation Dating displays Tony learning about the diversity of sexual identities, Isabel also has her views of older people challenged.
“I hadn’t been around old[er] people in a while, and sometimes I think that they’re very stuck in their ways,” she starts.
“With Tony, it was really refreshing that at first, he might not be warm to an idea, but once I spoke to him and spoke about different things, he’s so understanding and he’s very open and very open-minded to see things in different ways.
“Even with meeting older women in the groups, they were open-minded, they like having a bit of a laugh and things, and that’s nice as well. I think I forgot that older people can have a bit of a laugh, you know?”
The first episode of Generation Dating was certainly eye-opening on many accounts and proves that there is always the potential for attitudes and biases to change. Watch the full episode on the Virgin Media Player.
“While their dates were a hit, the real love affair was between Tony and Isabel. They have stayed in touch and are planning to meet up very, very soon.”
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