For many millennials, navigating the dating world during the coronavirus pandemic can seem like a challenge, but is it still possible?
Content creator Serena Kerrigan took a creative approach to love in the time of the coronavirus by launching the Instagram Live dating show “Let’s F*cking Date” (known to fans as LFD for short). Each week, Kerrigan goes on a virtual blind date through the social media platform as followers tune in and comment in real time. The goal: to empower women to be “unapologetically” themselves on first dates — and to entertain her followers while they are staying home.
Since the show launched on April 23, it has become a popular dating show during quarantine among young people with the show’s Instagram account being followed by more than 7,000 people and the most recent episode drew more than 28,000 viewers and fans of the series are highly engaged.
“We get invested in these people and I even feel like I ‘know’ who would be a good match for Serena and who wouldn’t,” Melissa Krol from New York told TMRW. “I have an alarm set in my phone for her dates … I don’t even set an alarm to wake up right now.”
“I look forward to Friday nights in quarantine because of LFD,” echoed Stephanie Gutierrez from Houston, Texas. “Each week that I tune in, the show gets better and better.”
So how did it all start?
From video producer to professional dater
Kerrigan, a 26-year-old from New York City, is no stranger to performing and producing live content. Prior to launching her dating show, she worked at Refinery29 as a video producer and content creator with a focus on Facebook Lives, producing 60 live videos each month.
In early March, Kerrigan decided to leave her job in order to focus on her brand, “SFK, the Queen of Confidence”, which originated from a persona she created while she was studying at Duke University “as a humorous way to shield against her own insecurities.”
Once lockdown began in New York City, Kerrigan realized she would no longer be able to host live events across the city in order to promote her brand. She told TMRW during that first weekend quarantining by herself in her apartment, she felt extremely alone. “I was ridden with anxiety that I was alone without a companion.”
The feeling was unfamiliar to Kerrigan, who says her “whole brand is about female empowerment, self-worth and not being dependent on anyone other than yourself.” However, after speaking to other professionals, she realized what she was feeling was “totally normal” and decided all this time spent at home alone would be the perfect time to date.
A new kind of dating show
Kerrigan said that she usually disliked dating in New York City because there were so many logistics to figure out and many times, she could tell within five minutes if the person sitting across from her was the right fit.
She realized dating during such an uncertain time would be more productive because “you’re more likely to have an impactful and less superficial conversation because it’s a pandemic.”
Utilizing Instagram’s live feature, Kerrigan decided to launch “Let’s F*cking Date,” a show that airs on the platform every Friday at 8:30 p.m.
Kerrigan said she wanted to be entirely in control of the program, unlike other reality shows where producers have the ability to manipulate the contestants for ratings, so she would serve as the producer, host and contestant.
Kerrigan said, “I control the social media, the relationships, the conversation. I don’t have an earpiece and I think that’s part of the success of the show.”
She also attributes the overwhelming response to the series to the live platform. Because viewers can comment and ask questions that she can respond to or address on the date, they’re just as much a part of the show as they are members of the audience.
The fact that the show is happening in real time also adds to the buzz: “It’s authentic, it’s happening in the moment. Those awkward moments where you don’t know what to ask next, that’s there.”
She said the platform helps with “getting to know someone gritty and real with no gimmicks.” Of the 13 dates she’s been on so far, Kerrigan has hit it off with a few of the eligible gentlemen and has even gone on some second dates.
Kerrigan added that her “after the date” show, another Instagram Live in which she discusses the date she just went on with fellow influencers like Danielle Bernstein of We Wore What, also appeals to her audience because it gives them the opportunity to debrief the way you might with a friend who just came back from a blind date.
“I feel like I was born to do this,” Kerrigan said. “If you were to tell me I’d have a live dating show during a global pandemic, I would’ve said that’s insane but it could not be more on-brand.”
She said she wants to ultimately find love through this process, but she also hopes the show will “change the future of dating” so women can be more confident going into a date and fully embrace who they are.