Over the past seven episodes of “Casual,” we’ve learned a lot about how to navigate the modern dating scene, thanks to lessons acquired by watching Valerie (Michaela Watkins), Alex (Tommy Dewey) and Laura (Tara Lynne Barr) seek love — or at least a satisfying connection with another.
Communication is Key
Just because you’re keeping things casual doesn’t mean you shouldn’t communicate — especially during the earliest phases of a relationship, when you don’t really know too much about a person’s life, from their other relationships to their own personal boundaries.
During her earliest forays into the casual dating scene, Valerie hooked up with James (Dean Geyer) a charming young man she picked up at a restaurant. Valerie and James had chemistry and at least one round of fantastic sex, but while no promises or commitments were made, Valerie still had expectations that were way too high for what might happen next. An ill-advised surprise trip to James’s apartment ends in embarrassment for her as a result — a situation that could have been avoided, had she called or texted first.
Kids Know More Than We Think
A healthy knowledge of sex and all its complexities is a good thing for teenagers. With hormones all out of whack and opportunities aplenty, high schoolers will find a way to hook up whether parents want them to or not. “Casual” has a more than healthy attitude toward expansive knowledge, but that doesn’t mean it merely treats Laura like an adult. She and her friends talk about sex often, but then get skittish when discussing more intimate areas of relationships.
Laura feels mature enough to go after older men like her teacher, Michael (Patrick Heusinger). She gains that confidence from sexual exploits approached with safety and a wealth of information, but also from the knowledge picked up from her uncle and mother, sometimes via eavesdropping on their morning after conversations. She struggles, though, to discuss her own emotional standing. In short, she’s knows how to casually hook up with the best of ’em, but intimacy is a struggle. She’ll soon learn from experience, though, just like the rest of us. But in the meantime, we have to remember just how much experience she and her fellow teenagers really have, and guide them towards understanding just how complex dating can be.
Know Who You’re Sleeping With
Choosing to hook up with a relative stranger can be sometimes a thrill, but it’s also a risky maneuver. And we’re not just talking about potential problems of the sexually transmitted variety — not paying attention to what kind of person you’re getting intimate can leave you vulnerable in all sorts of unexpected ways.
Alex finds this out the hard way when he hooks up with Monica (Stefanie Black), a sweet bartender who Alex tells pretty bluntly is not his type. He also tells her a lot of other things about the reality of the dating site he runs. And while Monica tells Alex right up front that she has a blog — she, in fact, asks him for permission to use something he said on her blog, the first time they actually speak — he only realizes how much he screwed up after Monica reveals some harsh truths about him.
Don’t Trust Others To Know What You’re Looking For
Sometimes friends have the best intentions, but perhaps don’t fully understand your needs. That was the case for Valerie when she reluctantly went out on her first post-divorce date at the urging of her brother. Alex thought he knew best, arguing a quick fling would be just the ticket for his lonely sister in need of a pick-me-up. But Valerie wasn’t quite ready for that, especially with the guy Alex’s algorithm thought would be perfect for her.
Which brings us to our lesson: Whether it’s finding the right person to spend time with or how you choose to spend that time, always try to know what you want before asking others for a helping hand. Or, for that matter, accepting a hand forced upon you.
Know What You’re Looking For
Finally ready to try a different approach to dating, Alex ends up matching online with Emmy (Eliza Coupe), and it seems like a perfect match — except her relationship status turns out to be different than his. And while he might pretend to be comfortable with the situation, that sort of pretending isn’t going to do him any favors — either with Emmy, or with other women.
With casual dating, open marriages and other complicated new definitions for relationships, the key to being sure you’re happy with what you get is to be sure about what might make you happy.
New episodes of “Casual” premiere every Wednesday on Hulu.