The holiday-themed dating show is back — as three singles look for love amidst a revolving door of suitors.
HBO Max’s hit holiday reality dating series “12 Dates of Christmas” is back on the streamer on Thanksgiving Day, introducing an exciting new trio of lead singles and their many, many love interest.
Narrated by “Insecure” star Natasha Rothwell, the eight-part holiday-themed reality series follows three singles as they mingle with three separate groups of prospective love interests in a winter wonderland. As they send contestants packing, new arrivals each episode threaten to unseat the frontrunners, before the leads each pick one person to bring home to meet their families for the holidays.
This season’s singles include Amanda Grace Jenkins, who identifies as lesbian, straight boy Danny Escanalte and Markelle Smith, who identifies as gay. WM Leader caught up with Amanda ahead of the premiere, where she opened up about love triangles, potential red flags and potentially competing against some of her own contestants for their attention.
Going into this show, what were qualities you were looking for in a partner — especially knowing you’d probably be bringing someone home to meet your family?
I was looking for a healthy relationship. Someone who is genuine, kind, and is interested in pursuing romance and partnership.
On the flip side, what are some red flags you watch out for?
I watch out for inconsistency, lacking sense of self, or lacking transparency and authenticity.
Not only do you start with a lot of women vying for your attention, but new ones are added as the show progresses. What’s the most challenging aspect of navigating that dynamic — and did you find yourself in any love triangles you can tease?
This was the most challenging for me because I’m not one to date more than one at a time. It was challenging to share my time with each one equally while trying to gauge where the true connections were in such a short amount of time.
What’s one of the craziest things one of the suitors did to catch your attention and did it work the way they hoped?
Hina drew a sketch of the hotel we stayed in and framed it along with a poem in French and gave it to me as a gift. I was impressed by their skills and the effort put in to the romantic gesture.
As the two gay leads on the show, did you and Markelle ever think your singles may have been more interested in each other than you / if so, how did you deal with that? Was there any spark between the contestants themselves.
At the time I was not thinking about that but now that I’m looking back it makes sense knowing how the dynamic was and how the expectations were set up going into the lodge.
What did your family think about you doing this show and, without spoilers, how did they feel about being on it themselves when it came time for the home visits?
My family was supportive of me doing the show and they trust that I know what’s best for me. As for being on camera themselves, they weren’t exactly thrilled but were happy to support me.
Was it nerve-wracking for you to bring a woman home with you period, as you never had before this?
Not really. Even though this was a first time bringing a woman home to spend Christmas with my family. They are always welcoming when any of us bring new people around. And at this point in my life my family knows I’m out and proud and they support me.
Are there any holiday traditions you have that you look forward to sharing with a future partner?
I love when my family is able to all get together, eat food, exchange gifts, and just laugh and enjoy one another’s company. These are some of my favorite moments in life so I would love to share this with a partner as well.
Do you regret any of your eliminations, looking back?
No. I am so grateful for the connections I made with some truly beautiful humans inside and out and I also feel confident that I made the best decisions for myself.
What is your biggest takeaway from this experience?
I still believe in love. I’m surrounded by it in my life in so many aspects. I also learned that connection isn’t everything. You have to also be compatible. I learned that some will make you feel like you’re doing too much and some will make you feel like you’re not doing enough. But as long as you show up authentically, for the right person, you will be enough.
Season two of “12 Dates of Christmas” will premiere on HBO Max on Thursday November 25.