Like the original Australian version, Love on the Spectrum U.S. follows half a dozen singletons, who are all on the autism spectrum, as they search for romance.
While the series features a new set of cast members and an American expert, Jennifer Cook, one person did appear (via voice) on both shows: Cian O'Clery.
Cian co-created Love on the Spectrum, and he's the director and executive producer on the U.S. series. Throughout Love on the Spectrum U.S., viewers can hear Cian chatting with the participants and asking questions.
Though he isn't physically seen on the program (since he is behind the camera), Cian's presence can be felt throughout the six-episode first season of Love on the Spectrum U.S.
He spoke exclusively with Distractify about bringing the concept across the Pacific, and he shared why the audience only hears from him every so often on the show.
Cian O'Clery on what he hopes viewers take away from 'Love on the Spectrum U.S.'
When both seasons of Love on the Spectrum proved to be global hits for Netflix, Cian began having discussions about creating a version of the show in the United States.
"The opportunity came up, and we were really happy to get involved," Cian told us, before adding that he moved to the States for "the good part of 2021." The show filmed in three different states: California, South Carolina, and Massachusetts.
From the start, Cian wanted to reach a wide audience. He was also eager to find a very diverse group of participants who were all different ages, and who had each been diagnosed with autism at various points in their lives.
"I won't lie, it was hectic and stressful," Cian said about shooting the series. "There's a lot of pressure that I put mostly on myself, but we just found really great people and telling their stories was an enjoyable experience. We're just really happy to, hopefully, reach even more people, and to showcase the diversity of autism."
Cian is looking forward to letting the viewers see the individual stories themselves, and to combat one major misconception about autism.
"Sometimes one of the big misunderstandings of autism is that people on the spectrum don't necessarily want relationships, don't want love, or don't have empathy," Cian said. "That's why this series is really important to show that people do. If people have different ways of showing that, it doesn't mean people don't want it."
The director talks finding the balance between staying behind the camera and interacting with the participants.
As viewers make their way through the six-episode first season, they'll likely notice that Cian only occasionally interjects during the participants' dates — even though he was behind the camera for the entirety of filming.
Cian has years of experience as a director in unscripted television, so he's a pro when it comes to determining when to let a situation unfold, when to provide input, or when to ask a question.
"There's moments when you just need to be in the background, and it's great that people have forgotten you're there," Cian said, before adding that he wore multiple hats on the show. "We're a tiny, tiny crew; there's four of us. I'm filming second camera so I'm sort of doing that as well as kind of keeping an eye on what's happening and listening to things."
The co-creator's goal is for the cast members (and their dates) to forget that they're even on camera.
"Most of the time, our plan is to just melt into the background, and for people to almost forget we're there," he shared. "It just brings that truth to the storytelling, when people aren't performing for the cameras. I think we really achieve that, by becoming invisible."
However, every once in a while, Cian will say something from behind the camera.
"There are times, of course, when it does feel like a moment to jump in, or it does feel like a moment for me to just throw a question..." he added. "It's a balance. It's just striking that balance internally, and not really having a system for how you do it — it's just about how things feel."
You can catch Cian (well, his voice) on Love on the Spectrum and Love on the Spectrum U.S. Both shows are available to stream on Netflix now.