Netflix’s Cutest Latine Couple is from “Love on the Spectrum”

LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM. Dani in episode 7 of LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2024

Returning for its second US-based season, Netflix’s documentary-style dating show Love on the Spectrum is delighting audiences with the real-life experiences of people with autism searching for love.

As a long-time fan of the show since its 2019 Australian release, I knew to expect authentic and heartwarming stories of people looking for love, romance, and relationships, while also learning about the diverse ways people with autism navigate life. What I didn’t expect to experience this season is admiring the sexual empowerment of returning cast member Dani Bowman.

As a Latina living in Los Angeles, I was especially excited to see the return of Dani, the Pasadena-based, mixed-race, Latina entrepreneur who is determined to enter a “serious and intimate adult relationship.” In the first U.S. season of Love on the Spectrum, Dani goes on a few promising dates, including with Adán, with whom she shares a love for animation. But ultimately, she does not pursue a relationship and keeps Adán as a friend.

LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM. Dani in LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2023
Dani in LOVE ON THE SPECTRUM. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix ©2023

This season, we see Dani as a confident woman who knows what she wants and where she is unwilling to bend. What is especially refreshing is Dani’s unabashed and liberated quest to find a partner who is ready to explore a sexual relationship.

When I first felt a curiosity about sex, I remember feeling incredibly insecure, self-conscious, and riddled with Catholic guilt for even having the desire to have sex before marriage. Dani, on the other hand, has several books about sex and speaks freely about her desire to enter a sexual relationship both in front of the cameras and when seeking advice from her aunt, whom she lives with. “Women can be horney too,” Dani declares.

After going on a couple of dates with different matches, Dani opens up to the possibility of dating Adán, her friend from Season 1. But before exploring this seriously, she considers how to bring up the subject of sex, letting viewers know she is not going to waste her time on someone who is not aligned with her on this.

Dani is unshackled from the feelings of shame for wanting sex that I experienced when I was young. On their first date, Dani asks Adán how he feels about premarital sex. In a suspense-building moment, we watch Adán, who also has autism, consider the question. Here is where I identified with Adán who first speaks about the fact that he is Catholic and that technically, “sex before marriage is a big no, no.” But, he continues, he recognizes that sex is natural and therefore, he would be open to it.

Triumphantly, we see Dani beam. The friend she has chemistry with can be more than a friend! I audibly shrieked as I watched the pair kiss and cuddle after this critically important conversation to uncover if their values around sex align.

As if that exchange between Dani and Adán wasn’t empowering enough, the next time we see the couple on a date completely solidified my admiration for Dani. On this date in Echo Park Lake, Dani brings two cupcakes to share with Adán. But more than a sweet treat, Dani uses the cupcakes to show Adán how she would like to be kissed, walking him through what to do with his lips, tongue, and head.

Many women do not experience orgasms because, for a variety of societal reasons, we may not feel comfortable expressing exactly what we want. I know because I was one of these women well into my twenties. Dani of Love on the Spectrum shows us that not only is it perfectly acceptable to want sex, but we can also tell our partners exactly what we want from them. Viewers take notes.

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