My girlfriend and I were speaking with one of her friends earlier this year when they made an offhand reference to the fact that she had been watching the new Netflix dating show Love is Blind, which she described as peak trash TV. “It’s so bad,” she said, “I can’t stop watching.” My girlfriend asked if I’d be interested in watching and riffing on the series, to which I said, “Fuck it, why not!”
To summarize this experience, Love is Blind is bad for a wide variety of reasons. It does live up to our friend’s endorsement that it’s trash TV; To a profound degree, I love to hate the show, and I hate to love it. Here’s a handful of issues I have with the show.
Why even have this premise?
The premise of Love Is Blind is that if we separate the couples so that they can hear each other talk, but not see each other, they will be able to make a better connection if they don’t have to focus on each other’s physical appearance. The couples who get engaged after the ten days of conversation will finally be able to see each other, and then get to decide if they still want to get married. There’s a period of 30-days where they go on a sort-of Honeymoon to Mexico and then come back home to start planning their wedding.
The hosts like to describe this as an “experiment,” which I think is taking themselves a little too seriously. [Spoilers] The experiment ends up only being about 45% successful, with six couples getting engaged after the ten days of conversation, and only two of those six actually getting married. (One of the couples which did not marry is now dating again, but I have doubts about that lasting.)
Here’s the issue, pretty much everyone we see in this early part of the show is very conventionally attractive. There are a few who don’t exactly meet this standard, but most of the people could be models for some type of clothing catalog. This is especially the case for everyone who makes it past the first ten days and actually gets engaged. Not one of those twelve people is unattractive. Mark is a little shorter than most attractive people, but he’s still beautiful. And when these couples are finally united, a lot of them comment on how beautiful the other person is. Wow, gee, do you think love is blind?
The show is mostly gutless. They want attractive people, because attractive people are more likely to score well with test audiences. But they still want to act like it’s a groundbreaking social experiment, when it really isn’t.
In Season 2, I hope the casting director actually tries. Not to sound too political, but there are so many interesting routes that you could take in casting people from groups that aren’t considered conventionally attractive. Cast larger people, cast people with birthmarks, people with different abilities. I always hear things like Steve Harvey saying that Asian men aren’t attractive, and if we still have people saying ignorant stuff like that, wouldn’t it be somewhat interesting to cast an Asian man? Wouldn’t that add some tension and hopefully prove whether or not love is blind?
Love being blind is not the challenge, time is
Okay, so let’s look at the time frame that the show keeps to. The first ten days are spent in the conversation phase, and then the next four weeks are spent in the Mexico honeymoon and in the real world, where the newly-engaged will meet each others’ families, leading up to the wedding.
These people get engaged and their wedding is scheduled for forty days later. That’s nuts! Imagine meeting someone and marrying them forty days later. Let’s be real here, love being blind isn’t the issue here, it’s going from not knowing someone to marrying them. This show likes to pretend it’s similar to Married at First Sight when it’s more like 90-Day Fiancee. Or, I suppose 40-Day Fiancee.
The producers like to pretend that they’re doing a bold experiment about physical attraction, when it’s really more about just getting to know people in a short amount of time. That’s the real obstacle. Giannina and Damian don’t get into a big fight in front of e v e r y o n e because one of them isn’t pretty, it’s because Giannina didn’t realize that this is how Damian acts in front of other people.
Learning the wrong thing from success
A lot of the fandom’s discourse and memes comes from a focus on one character; the infamous 34-year-old, Jessica. Certainly the show’s biggest personality, editing basically frames her as a villain. So much screen time is devoted to showing us her flaws: she agrees to marry Mark despite clearly still having feelings for (and flirting with) Barnett, she constantly mentions the fact that she’s 34 and Mark is only 24 (and was rightfully meme-d for this), she uses a baby voice, she is shown getting drunk a lot, and even, in perhaps the most damning scene, gives red wine to her dog. She’s a walking wildcard, and fascinating to watch. She becomes the show’s most-watchable character by constantly being intoxicated, leading Mark on, and pining after Barnett. Throughout the series, it’s pretty clear that she’s not going to marry Mark. One has to wonder if the producers and editors of the show try to make her look worse than she really is, but it’s difficult to say.
And here’s the thing, Love is Blind‘s success is directly tied to the theatricality of the personality Jessica is presented as having. The producers will look at the success that Jessica and the other big personalities garnered for the show, and all the attention that came from the Jessica-memes.
Their producer focus will shift from finding people who will help them verify their “experiment,” and instead they’ll just find colorful personalities who will cause drama behind the scenes. (Not to mention, a few week’s after the considerable success of Love is Blind, Netflix had the incomprehensible success of Tiger King, which is solely based on the theatricality of big personalities and the drama that they cause. That’s certain to change the narrative focus on every non-scripted show they have.)
But next big personality they get, make sure they don’t give wine to a dog. Please.
Does anyone actually host this show?
The show is ostensibly hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, but they only show up once an episode, if that. Since the show has hosts who barely show up, it certainly feels like it’s certainly missing something. Obviously not all reality shows are created equal, but The Bachelor would feel different without Chris Harrison and Survivor wouldn’t be half of what it is without the illustrious Jeff Probst.
The thing which really drove the Lacheys’ absence for me is the reunion show, which they guided, and were actually involved in. Frankly, they weren’t half bad. So where were they for the previous ten episodes? It would have been nice for them to have a “Previously On” segment for each episode, I think. But perhaps that’s just me.
But I can’t stop watching?
Hey, you know what, we finished all ten episodes, eagerly. We laughed, we heckled, we complained about Jessica, and we had a good time. It’s quite a trip.
I will say, Lauren and Cameron are the two mostly well-adjusted people in the series, and they are a genuine pleasure to watch. They’ve got enough of a story to keep you entertained, but their marriage is the only one that’s never in doubt. They’re good people, and a welcome change of pace.
I’ll watch Season 2, and I’ll hate it, but I’ll enjoy it.
Anyway, my girlfriend and I are planning on doing a second part to this post in which we rank the six couples of Love Is Blind from least favorite to favorite. So, keep an eye out for that!
Have you watched Love is Blind? If so, why? Did you enjoy it?