Tara Ward does the unthinkable, and binge-watches 22 episodes of guinea pig dates on TVNZ Ondemand.
It’s not often you enjoy a guinea pig’s quest for true love. Hardly ever, in fact. So when the televisual universe vomits up a tiny nugget of unexpected joy like Holly and Luke’s First Dates, we must grab it with both paws and gnaw on it with our protruding front teeth like the hairy love rats that we are.
Whatever genius dreamt up the idea of animals providing a commentary on reality show First Dates NZ should immediately do a John Key and retire on a high. Because what could be better than watching two single guinea pigs on their search for true love, as they watch two single humans on their search for true love? The answer is nothing. NOTHING.
Jokes. There are plenty of things better than this. Almost everything, really. Holly and Luke’s First Dates is basically two guinea pigs clambering around a decorated shoe box, fighting over who’ll be first to shit in the corner. Some of us have enjoyed similar first dates, but steady on, it was one bad curry on a terrible evening years ago, let’s try and move on.
So why should you watch two guinea pigs looking for love, when you could be savouring on-demand gems like I Can’t Stop Farting or How to Live with Women? Life is full of these tricky questions, but as Holly and Luke would say: “take risks. Be brave.” (They also say “side-by-side is friend zone!”, so please think twice before taking advice from a guinea pig).
They’re cute, they’re furry, they’re probably delicious. If that’s not reason enough to binge on Holly and Luke’s First Dates, here are some more.
1) It’s not about the guinea pigs
To judge Holly and Luke’s First Dates by its low production values or questionable dating advice is to do it— nay, the entire world — a disservice. This is about more than tiny pigs going out for tea. Watch 25 episodes in a row like I did, allow your senses to numb and your eyes to glaze over, and you’ll appreciate the show as an absorbing metaphor for the struggles of the human condition, an animalistic representation of the universal pursuit for acceptance and belonging.
Or it could just be about guinea pigs eating lettuce, hard to know.
2) Watch history be made
Holly and Luke could be the big love story of our generation — the next Lionel and Kirsty, Ken and Deidre, or heaven bless us all, Art and Matootles.
It hasn’t been easy. Not only did Holly take Luke home to an apartment littered with poo (she needs to Marie Kondo that joint up, ASAP), but she dropped the L-bomb, which made Luke and his commitment issues scuttle toward the nearest tunnel. Holly is too good for Luke, and no piss-poor guitar solo about the time a ferret ate her father will change that.
This whole thing better end with an impromptu trip to a Las Vegas wedding chapel with a hamster Elvis celebrant, or else.
3) It grows on you like fungus
Holly and Luke burrowed their way into my brain like a rabid case of leptospirosis. I became emotionally invested, and after Episode 22 even found myself liking Luke — that rodent version of Trump, all combover and bulging eyes and nonsensical jibber jabber.
I thought of Holly and Luke day and night. Which guinea pig was which? It was hard to tell, even when one of them wore a hat. Were they actually siblings? That would be an excellent twist. Luke stayed the night at Holly’s, did they Do It or did they just spoon and talk about their hopes and dreams? Is their relationship moving too SWEET BABY GUINEA PIG SOMEBODY HELP ME.
4) Animals always make it better
Chucking animals into a TV show is scientifically proven to improve viewer satisfaction by nine million percent. Remember Campbell Live and those driving dogs? Never seen JC so proud. That time a dog interrupted a cricket match and shat on the outfield? Oh, how the viewers laughed.
Holly and Luke do for First Dates NZ what the Bouncer dog-wedding dream sequence did for Neighbours: they take it next level. You can’t argue with science. Or with guinea pigs, they have a nasty bite.
Holly and Luke are just two guinea pigs, standing in front of the nation, asking us to love them. Be brave. Take risks. Grab some lettuce, and dive in.
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