Dating in the digital age isn’t a new theme for romantic comedies but "Sideswiped," which focuses heavily on Tinder, has more to offer than cliché jokes about swiping right to find your dream match. It’s a thoughtful, funny and sometimes cringeworthy look at trying to make a connection.
The set-up is familiar. Olivia (Carly Craig), an ambitious and uptight insurance agent, turns 35 and realizes that years of not taking chances on love have left her facing an aging biological clock. Still feeling the pain of her one serious relationship that ended two years ago, she resists her sister Jayne’s (Chelsea Frei) efforts to get her back on the dating scene. Jayne puts Olivia’s profile on Tinder anyway. One tequila fueled birthday celebration later and Olivia’s drunken epiphany leads her to swipe right on every profile she sees. The next day, she has 252 matches.
The matches are not without stereotypes. There’s the fitness guy who talks constantly about his gym routine and doesn’t eat carbs and the CEO who seems charming, says all the right things and then is easily scared off. They are good for a few solid laughs but this is mostly due to Craig. She expertly hits her punchlines and makes Olivia feel genuinely authentic and likable. You root for her almost instantly.
Olivia’s family relationships are also something she has to navigate, which adds depth and heart to the story. Her recently widowed mother Mary, (Rosanna Arquette), finds independence difficult so she lives with Olivia while Jayne is trying to rediscover the spark in her marriage after the birth of her first child. Each struggle with insecurities that feel relatable and the scenes where they face their self-doubt are emotionally convincing. Their chemistry together is solid.
The show frankly discusses and depicts sex and while the sometimes bawdy approach is part of the comedy, the search for connection through sex and romance is also used to occasionally pause the laughs and give the story a deeper layer or two. In one scene, Jayne’s determination to find the romance in her marriage by making out with her husband in their car in their garage starts off playfully but ends with her sad and defeated. In another, Olivia’s decision to end her sexual dry spell with fitness guy is full of funny, awkward moments but after it’s over, she sees a text from his friend congratulating him on finding a horny cougar to take to bed. Olivia’s reaction is all in her face — disappointment, embarrassment, a realization that she’s getting older — and Craig plays it perfectly.
Back at home, Olivia tells her mom that the date was fine and climbs into bed with her for comfort. It’s the interplay of fun and tender moments that gives this breezy romantic comedy more heart than most.
YouTube Premium is offering the first two episodes of "Sideswiped" for free, hoping that you’ll make a match and commit to watching more.
Episode One: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-IF61N6AegU
Episode Two: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zpRXhMZ1WVA
— Melissa Crawley is the author of "Mr. Sorkin Goes to Washington: Shaping the President on Television’s ‘The West Wing.’" She has a Ph.D. in media studies and is a member of the Television Critics Association. To comment on Stay Tuned, email her at
email@example.com or follow her on Twitter at @MelissaCrawley.