"The best episode of Take Me Out ever". You'd probably still change the channel, right? Perhaps. But you'd read about it in the aftermath.
Sorry, to be clear, this hasn't happened. Yet. This is not a review; it is, rather, a preview. It is surely a preview.
So here's how it goes down: Host Paddy McGuinness, as is his wont, makes some jokes that are construed as being sexist, chauvinistic and patronising (delete as applicable and more of which later), a group of women are introduced and, then, finally, after an innuendo or two, another human is lowered into the room for the aforementioned women's perusal.
But, on this occasion, it's not a man who's lowered in (it is usually. Check). Instead (drum roll), it's a woman.
Cue the implosion of Middle England. The pretense of shock and horror would be rolled out by various right-wing newspapers but, in the age of social media, it's so glaringly obvious as a publicity stunt that it's almost unbelievable that it hasn't happened yet. The crazily uncrazy thing is: on the night, once the extended audience whoops had died down, the likelihood is that a group of twenty-something women in 2015 would be similarly receptive to being met with the female form - and, in time, said female's personality - as they are to anyone else, and the UK would have to wake up. Wake up to things like fluid sexuality, and attraction based on a whole range of factors, transcending orientation tickboxes and archaic wider society prejudices.
As uncomfortable as this may be, for some, to read - and, dare I say it, for me to write - welcome to real life. This is the way of the world and television should reflect this, not try to maintain a purported status quo which is far from the truth.
Here, have some statistics: A recent Canadian sexual fantasy survey found that - and prepare yourselves for figures of a graphic nature - 24% of women would consider "having sex with more than three people, all women" as a fantasy, and if you take the number of people in the - let's say - bed, down to three, the percentage rises to 36.9. If, incidentally, we take the voyeurism-centric Gareth Keenan approach, minus the incest, we see a further rise to 42.4.
Most interestingly, and perhaps pertinently, for women, the fantastical notion of "having sex with more than three people, both men and women" is agreeable for 56.5%. This share positively dwarfs the equivalent from the male sample - a lowly 15.8%.
There's a huge leap here. I'm apparently equating sexual fantasising, largely in the context of group sex scenarios, with the modern dating scene. I should point out that I'm certainly not advocating TMO becoming a 31-strong lesbian orgy (Paddy's just watching), rather that I'm pointing out a philosophy of open-mindedness from women. Countless studies (use Google. It's here to help) will tell us how many women are open to same-sex relationships, have had lesbian experiences and, perhaps most importantly, enjoy spending time in both romantic and platonic scenarios with members of their own gender. Take Me Out will not be an exception to these rules.
Naturally, for want of better phraseology, some of the "flirty thirty" will turn out their lights immediately. Call it shock, embarrassment, or simply it not being their bag, they came on the show for a man, and they'll be unwavering in their stance. But would all the lights go out? No, that's highly unlikely. Would the majority? It would surely depend on the perceived physical attractiveness of the person put before them, and the answers she gave to the questions put to her. Y'know, exactly how it works when it's a guy up top.
As Stephanie Theobald says, female sexual fluidity is, largely (my word, not hers), "like gravity, simply a fact of life." The statistics do bear this out, as the episode of Take Me Out would too, but the greater message is surely that people should be open to dating, falling in love with, a person, beyond whatever orientation we supposedly have to cling onto (Theobald, again).
Take Me Out gets a lot of stick, from smug intellectuals such as Charlie Brooker, and though the show can stumble into mild offensiveness at times, and the manner in which McGuinness mocks the participants occasionally jars, it generally seems like everyone's in on the joke. Many women, for example, do dress with a hope that they'll be found attractive and that will lead to being "chosen". The concept is not far off being representative of what happens in bars, in speed dating venues and on dating websites.
Let's not forget that the whole courtship ritual is ridiculous - from appreciating a twinkle in an eye from afar right through to whatever happens when two people go to bed with each other. Any attempt to rise above this entirely is futile.
Further to this, we should remember that the format of TMO is a concession to political correctness - hold on, I am actually serious - in that if a group of men were slavering over a woman, or flamboyantly declaring a dislike for her physical appearance, there would be uproar. It could be argued that the programme is far more degrading to men than it is to women, which doesn't seem to be the point Brooker, and his ilk, are trying to make.
The one flaw, the one unrepresentative element of TMO, is the endless cycle of women having nothing but men to appraise and consider. That's not how things really are on 21st century Planet Earth. It's just a tweak, ITV. Make it happen.
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