It’s not often that a real dating app is used on a TV show, much less featured as prominently as it is on “Sideswiped,” but apparently YouTube and Tinder matched, and their mutually beneficial relationship has resulted in a new rom com. Dating, especially in the digital age, is well traveled ground, but YouTube Premium is hoping that viewers like the first date episode enough to come back for more and see the depth that is lurking beneath the pretty profile. At times awkward and depressingly realistic about navigating being single today, “Sideswiped” already shows in its first two episodes the potential for sincere insights into a range of relationships — romantic or otherwise. For the most part, Olivia’s dating exploits would be enough for the show.
After all, she is still learning her needs and preferences, and the endless parade of men — Jason Sudeikis, Tyler Posey, and Charles Michael Davis, among others — are delightful in their familiarity as dating stereotypes: the health nut, the CEO who’s too good to be true, etc. And while their blatant inappropriateness is part of the fun, it’s also done in a good natured way that also highlights Olivia’s own faults. Plus, the sexual interactions depicted are aboveboard and consensual, which a refreshing, sex positive attitude despite some initial slut shaming commentary. However, while “Sideswiped” healthily engages in sex talk and sex acts, very little is shown in the way of nudity, thus maintaining that lighthearted rom com tone. Jayne and their mother Mary Rosanna Arquette give “Sideswiped” extra dimension, however. Each of them have achieved what Olivia wants — finding the love of their lives, getting married, and having kids — but that has not guaranteed them domestic bliss.
Both are still facing the same fate as Olivia but in a different form: to constantly seek connection. Mary is recently widowed and can’t seem to handle doing anything alone thus, her crashing at Olivia’s, and she’s also on Tinder. Meanwhile, Jayne wants to rekindle the flame with her husband Jim Craig Frank, who is content in their comfortable relationship. In some ways, this could be an old fashioned relationship comedy, but “Sideswiped” fully embraces that fact that most of us are on our phones. When each new character is introduced on the show, one of their profiles — dating app, Facebook, etc.
— pops up to give us the quick 411. This screen on screen view creates a bizarre meta commentary on how we experience the world. That said, the series is restrained and balanced in its use as a storytelling device. The potential to really examine the microcosm that is dating apps — the typical photos, the clicked language, how to game them — could fill a series in itself.