The '12 Dates Of Christmas' Leads Reveal Their Best & Worst Dates Of Season 2

- Holiday -
The '12 Dates Of Christmas' Leads Reveal Their Best & Worst Dates Of Season 2

Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, Jack Frost nipping at your nose, and interrupted kisses in the hot tub can only mean one thing – the return of HBO Max’s 12 Dates of Christmas.

This holiday season, the streaming platform's dating series follows three leads who are looking for love through a quickly-revolving pool of romantic interests in a cozy, winter wonderland.

Markelle Smith is a dentist from New York City, but unlike Hermey from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, his biggest dream is finding a man with a sense of humor and a banging body that he can take home for Christmas. (Actually, now that I think of it, maybe that was one of Hermey’s biggest dreams, too?)

Last Christmas turned out to be a blue one for Amanda Grace Jenkins, who was lied to and betrayed in her most recent relationship. She’s hoping the show introduces her to a woman who’s beautiful inside and out.

Rounding out the cast is the holly, jolly hunk, Danny Escalante, whose ultimate Christmas wish is finding a girl he can settle down with.

The three leads made time in their busy holiday schedule to speak with The Dipp ahead of the season premiere about the show’s non-traditional format and their most memorable moments. Read on to see what the leads had to say about Season 2.

THE DIPP: First of all, why did you want to do a dating show?

MARKELLE: I was reached to about this opportunity on Instagram. I had recently gotten out of my first serious relationship, and I felt like I was at a point where I was ready to date again. I had seen a couple of dating shows, so I was like “Why not? Why not try?”

DANNY: I actually swiped right on one of the talent scouts of the show. She was pretty hot, so I figured I’d talk to her, and then by the time we finished our conversation, she was like, “You know what? I think I could see you doing this show. You’d be perfect for it.” It just kind of snowballed.

AMANDA GRACE: I actually never saw myself doing one. I’ve been approached before, but I’ve always turned it down because I thought it wasn’t really my thing; I didn’t see myself finding love in that way ... But I watched the first season to get a good idea of what it was about, and it was rom-com’y and cheesy and magical, so that drew me in. There was a lot of hesitance, but there was a lot of motivation for me in terms of representation. We don’t see a lot of lesbians on TV, so I thought this was going to be a really good opportunity and maybe I’d find love.

THE DIPP: This show is so different than other dating shows because you’re not alone as the principal love interest. What was it like have two other people by your side, going through the same things you were?

DANNY: I’ve never been big into reality TV myself, so I never quite understood watching these shows and seeing people cry all the time and getting so caught up in it because it seems silly from the outside. Having lived through it, I can say I’m so glad that they were there because it’s an emotional roller coaster; there are real people, real feelings, and you’re involved in it.

MARKELLE: We really leaned on each other. We have several deliberation ceremonies where we have to talk things through, and there were many times when it was like, “I don’t know what I’m doing. I don’t know the right decision to make.” I feel like we were able to provide each other with insight and make each other think in ways we may not have normally thought.

AMANDA GRACE: I tend to be a little more on the shy side, so I don’t necessarily love when all of the pressure and all of attention is on me, so I liked the idea that I had this camaraderie with the two other leads.

THE DIPP: It’s pretty clear that this tight-knit support system was the best part for all of you, but what was the hardest part of doing the show?

AMANDA GRACE: I would say the hardest part was moving at the pace of the show and not at the pace I would like to and in the process that I would like to when it comes to dating.

MARKELLE: Definitely sending people home because we all got along so well. In a sense, we became one family where we were connecting and bonding over this unique experience. So seeing people leave the lodge, whether it was after a date or after a couple of dates… you form a bond with these people, and then all of a sudden, it’s like, bye, you’re gone.

DANNY: There’s relationships with people you haven’t spent much time with, and you have to decide who to send home. That’s the tricky part. I had trouble with that; I can’t say it really got any easier as it went along. One of the trickiest things about it is trying to compare apples and oranges; there’s someone who could have been there for weeks and you have a developed relationship with them, and then someone who came yesterday, and you have to choose between them.

THE DIPP: What was the best date you were a part of? What was the worst?

MARKELLE: The best (and worst) date were both skiing. I had never skied before, so I was balancing being on a dating show, learning to ski, and being on a date with somebody else. It was so much, but at the same time, it was so much fun.

DANNY: There was a hot air balloon ride, and that was a really incredible experience. The least favorite date?... Not bad, per say, but toward the end of the show, it’s sort of a staple of the show where people will pop up in a really surprising fashion. There was one time in particular where I was having a real moment with someone, and then the individual pops up out of the blue. It’s like, here’s a new person. Imagine you’re on a date with someone and then someone else pops up right in the middle when you’re about to kiss or something.

AMANDA GRACE: I didn’t like being stuck inside. I love the outdoors, so if I found out we were staying inside – sometimes it’s nice to cuddle up and get cozy, but I was usually more excited to get outside. On the other hand, I love animals, so my best dates were between feeding reindeer or riding horses.

THE DIPP: Would you sum up your behavior on the show as naughty or nice?

MARKELLE: Nice. Definitely nice.

AMANDA GRACE: I think overall, more nice. When it comes to my naughty side – it’s definitely there, but I like to keep that reserved. I probably came across as more nice because I’m always trying to cater to everyone else.

DANNY: Well, judging by the reactions of some of the contestants, I’ll have to say naughty.

Season 2 of 12 Dates of Christmas premieres on HBO Max on November 25.

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