The concept for UpDating began with Harrison Forman & Brandon Berman dreaming of media glory as young “mommas” boys growing up in New Jersey & New York, respectively. Harrison’s Bar Mitzvah dancing & Brandon’s local radio hosting sparked these journeys leading, years later, to Harrison moving to San Francisco to work in tech at Facebook & pursue the entrepreneurial dream & Brandon leaving Long Island to move into NYC to work as a NBC Page & perform stand-up comedy. After a mutual friend introduced them with the emphatic “hey dudes! you guys have to meet,” they became pen-pals, bonding over their love of Sex and The City, shared nature as two sensitive, Jewish men, and the two-year long journey began to find a creative project to dig into together.
It wasn’t until Harrison, while ironically still working at Facebook, started going on Facebook Live to broadcast his first dates when the initial lightbulbs went off for UpDating. As the story goes, Harrison would go on real first dates reporting to a live-streamed audience before the date in an Uber en route to the date, mid-way through the date from the bathroom for a “Halftime Report,” and then a post-date “Recap Q&A” (he struggled with Emoji choices the morning after). Brandon, watching this from afar, though in a serious relationship of his own, knew this had the foundation of a new wave of storytelling, but it was missing one major piece neither he nor Harrison could figure it out. As the search continued, Brandon was performing stand-up now almost every night in Manhattan growing tired over the mundane nature of the scripted writing element of this craft: seeing the same people do the same act every single night (despite his love of joking about burials in Jewish cemeteries). Along this journey, the spark finally happened: different daters, different nights, live audience. UpDating. Berman called Harrison immediately and the current version of UpDating was brought to life with Harrison finally moving to NYC six months later.
The foundation was set, the first show lined up, but it was still missing the personal touch. Luckily, the relationship gods agreed with both Harrison & Brandon’s girlfriends becoming ex-girlfriends before our first show — Harrison’s long-distance attempt had come up, short leaving him confused & way too jaded by dating apps to get back out there. Brandon well, he was dumped the day after by his supposed “love of his life” leaving him heartbroken & devastated. From then on out, it got real & so did UpDating.
The first UpDating started in a dimly lit basement of a small taqueria in TriBeca with the goal of bringing a totally fresh perspective on modern romance. Twenty shows, two separate gay bar venues, and thousands of attendees later, our show has evolved into an interactive experience bringing two (and sometimes more) single New Yorkers together with a live audience to control, watch, and offer feedback on blind first dates in real-time with real-people (nope, no influencers or actors here).
With an audience dictating the show every step of the way, UpDating taps into so many nodes of “ twentysomething neuroticism” around dating, lifestyle, and romance — from the outfits we wear on first dates, our sexual honesty around tattoos, and the drinks we order. To say UpDating is just a dating show does not do justice for the deeper themes of its existence. It exists to explore the need for self-validation as opposed to self-help. It exists to create a movement away from the toxic masculinity plaguing men in the dating world. It exists to bring vulnerability & brutal post-swiping honesty back into the center-fold. Most importantly, UpDating exists not to fight the digital revolution of dating, but rather, working with it via interactive tools & technology to meet someone new.
The story of UpDating is just beginning — other cities, different types of dates (bisexual, divorcees), and unconventional meet ups are a few pieces of what can be part of the long-term journey.
Our only question, can you help #DecidetheFate?
When not producing the show, you can find us around New York City crashing first dates in real life, promoting casting for upcoming shows, and most importantly, living the typical flex-room Manhattan dream with our diverse squad— dentists, financiers, contractors, engineers, rappers — to keep us sane.
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