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The Nevermets review – online couples meet for the first time … and the results are bleak
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The Nevermets review – online couples meet for the first time … and the results are bleak

Are you mildly depressed? Would you like to stay mildly depressed? Welcome, then, to The Nevermets, one of those programmes Channel 4 unofficially specialises in – potentially uplifting but in fact as relentlessly bleak an exploration of the human condition as you are likely to see, and built on a premise that is simple, brilliant and yet somehow still seems the product of sick minds dedicated to squeezing every last drop of hope out of existence.

The Nevermets follows various people who have been in online relationships for months, sometimes years, with other people thousands of miles away whom they have not met in real life. They all profess to be in love and have decided it is time to meet.

Abandon hope … Jgoy and Sarah in front of Jgoy’s house in Philippines.View image in fullscreen

Some are more starry-eyed than others. Seventeen-year-old A-level student Jay is nervous but excited about meeting 26-year-old Veena, who lives in India. He comes from Bridgwater. “People who are born here usually stay here.” He and the (absolutely charming) Veena have been communicating for hours a day since they met in a Game of Thrones roleplay chatroom 18 months ago. His romantic writing, she says with a sigh, is “so expressive”. “I would say we’re in love,” is Jay’s position. I wish you could see his mother’s face. You probably can. “What if you don’t get on?” she says. “I haven’t really thought about it,” he replies.

Twenty-five-year-old Dumebi is from an Igbo family and has always hoped to settle down with someone from the same background and as much like her beloved father, who died four years ago, as possible. She has been “with” Mazi, a Nigerian man who hires out yachts and cars in Dubai, for 18 months and is preparing to fly there to meet him. They have spoken about getting married but he has not been keen on her coming until now. I have very little faith in Mazi but a lot in Dumebi’s mother and sisters, who are like a wall of common sense around her.

Most vulnerable is 38-year-old catering assistant Sarah, who, like so many, lost her job and thus contact with many friends during lockdown. She seems to be looking to assuage the loneliness with Jgoy, a 27-year-old virtual assistant in the Philippines. She wants to settle down and have a family. They need to meet, she says, “because I’m getting on now.” You can see her struggling to hope for the best even before she arrives at his home and has to deal with him drinking with his friends, grim “banter”, and his desire to dictate various choices to her.

Jay, on the other hand, is greeted in Kerala by a delighted Veena and about a thousand members of her even more delighted family, who have all but arranged a wedding for the pair. They lay on a feast (Jay tries hard, but his favourite food is Greggs’ sausage rolls and he has never even had an Indian takeaway), put him in a traditional groom’s outfit and give him traditional marriage presents. The extent of their expectations and Veena’s only gradually dawns on him. You would laugh if it wasn’t all so horrible for him and – when he cannot meet them – for Veena.

The internet has opened up the world to us all, and only proved how ridiculous our efforts to find more than fleeting moments of happiness are, have always been and ever more shall be. Only the first two episodes were available for review but the second’s look-ahead promises more of the sorrowful same – though also the tantalising prospect of Mazi getting his arse handed to him on a plate. That will be something. But is it enough?

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Source: theguardian.com