In fact, the past five or so years of dating men might best be described by involved parties as bleak.It’s into this landscape that dystopian anthology series has dropped its fourth season.In their renewed partnership and blissful cohabitation, we glimpse both those infinitesimal sparks of hope and the relatable moments of digital desperation that keep us renewing accounts or restoring Ok Cupid profiles ad nauseam.
Now take that bone-deep exhaustion and fury and sadness and pile it atop the already soul-deadening experience of swiping through Bumble, or spending countless hours with deeply uninteresting strangers in service of “being open-minded.” It makes the prospect of finding an equitable love, or even a satisfying lust, a laughable unlikelihood.
How could even the best dating app algorithm today factor that in?
Alone, each wonders aloud to their coaches why such an obviously compatible match was cut short, but their discs assure them of the program’s accuracy (and apparent motto): “They spend the next year apart, in deeply unpleasant long-term relationships, and then, for Amy, through a parade of meaningless 36-hour hookups with handsome, boring men.
Later she describes the experience, her frustration agonizingly familiar to today’s single women: “The System’s just bounced me from bloke to bloke, short fling after short fling.
From the inauguration of a president who has confessed on tape to sexual predation, to the explosion of harassment and assault allegations that began this fall, women’s confidence in men has reached unprecedented lows—which poses a not-insignificant issue among those who date them.
Not that things were all that much better in 2016, or the year before that; Gamergate and the wave of campus assault reporting in recent years certainly didn’t get many women in the mood, either.They are the dating app, one that has now alerted the real Frank and Amy, standing at opposite ends of a dark and crowded bar, to one another’s presence, and their 99.8% match compatibility.They smile, and the Smiths’ “Panic” (which prominently and repeatedly features the episode's title) plays them out over the pub’s speakers.Frank and Amy’s shared uncertainty about the System——mirrors our own skepticism about our own proto-System, those costly online services whose big promises we must blindly trust to reap romantic success.Though their System is intentionally depressing for us as an audience, it’s marketed to them as a solution to the problems that plagued single people of yesteryear—that is, the problems that plague us, today.But when they escape, the world waiting for them isn’t a desolate wasteland.