Putting aside how wrong that review is, we’re still not at “the ick” yet. The ick factor is far too broad and is something you ascribe to something else, not something you get. But we’re getting somewhere.
The primordial ick
What comes next is a number of television shows creating an association between ick, the ick factor, and dating.
First we must go all the way back to 1995 for an episode of Friends called “The One With The Ick Factor”. In this episode Monica finds out Ethan, a man she’s sleeping with, is much younger than she thought and so she calls it off because it’s “icky”.
Notably she is still attracted to Ethan, unlike when someone gets the ick, and calls things off because of the age gap itself rather than the man. Also “ick factor” is only mentioned in the title, so this episode’s place in the ick’s history is tenuous, but it looks to have set things in motion.
Four years later, “the ick” is actually used to describe a lack of interest in someone in an episode of Ally McBeal. That seems like a slam dunk on the ick origin story, but when we examine its usage more closely, we see it’s off the mark.
We can turn to this Ally McBeal fansite for a succinct summary.