'12 Dates of Christmas' Showrunner Sam Dean on Expecting 'the Unexpected' This Season

12 Dates of Christmas, HBO Max
HBO Max
HBO Max

From masquerade parties to Christmas-themed dates, HBO Max series 12 Dates of Christmasproduced on location in Austria, and premiering Thanksgiving — is all in on finding love for the holidays. The reality dating show, which follows three leads Faith, Garrett, and Chad on their journey to find that someone special  (just in time for New Year's, no pressure) has all the ingredients of a snow-filled romance, even the castle from The Sound of Music. We speak to showrunner and former Love Is Blind executive producer Sam Dean to find out the details.

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Couples hope to find love before New Year's Eve (welcome to the club).

I feel like we could all use a festive "reality romcom" right about now. What inspired the concept?

Sam Dean: Michael Beilinson, VP of development at [production company] OMGA [Objective Media Group America], is the talented creative who conceptualized 12 Dates of Christmas. It has been so important to us all to create a real-life romcom for the holiday season, and to make a feel-good celebratory show. We were inspired by all of the tropes of romcoms.  It has been a truly inspiring collaboration.

Chad, Garrett, and Faith, 12 Dates of Christmas

HBO Max

The three diverse leads bring a fresh perspective that other network reality romance shows have lacked. How important was this to you while creating the series? 

I love our cast. From the start we wanted to format a show that was not only diverse but also celebrated both straight and LGBTQ+ stories within the same experience. So many Christmas romcoms have in the past lacked diversity and underrepresented LGBTQ+, and we wanted to be more celebratory of the world we are living in.

As the showrunner and executive producer, were you on set in Austria during production? 

I was. It was an incredible experience. We aimed to create a fantastical winter wonderland  "snow globe" for all of our cast.

12 Dates of Christmas, HBO Max

HBO Max

What were some of your favorite date ideas? 

I love the surprises we include. We embrace the humor of "meet cutes," which I hope will leave the audience smiling. It’s Christmas, so expect the unexpected.

What do you hope viewers take away from the show? 

Some romantic escapism from 2020. We hope the viewers enjoy the humor as well as romance.

The Love Is Blind married couples recently celebrated their two-year wedding anniversary on social media. How has the success of Love Is Blind affected your career?

I am so grateful that Love is Blind was received so positively and for its success. Kinetic Content are ambitious, innovative and sensitive storytellers who I admire greatly. This year I signed a first-look showrunning deal with HBO Max. It has been a great move for me, I love the team and the projects I'm involved with.

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During the pandemic, reality TV has been a great escape for viewers. What do you think the future of the genre will bring, looking ahead to 2021? 

I believe 2021 will bring even more balance between big, impactful ideas and authentic storytelling.

12 Dates of Christmas, Premiere, Thursday, November 26, HBO Max