When it occurred to me that I didn’t have a post ready for this week, I looked back on projects I had started but not finished, and found that my girlfriend and I started to put together a ranking of all the couples on Netflix’s reality dating show Love Is Blind, similar to the series of guest posts on this blog ranking Survivor Contestants. The series is just a little bit outside of my usual wheelhouse on this blog, but I posted about it back in March and I still have a lot more to say about it.
First thing I need to mention is that we’re not ranking these people as people, but as characters presented through the lens of a “reality” TV show – which doesn’t necessarily reflect reality. In this list, we graded the couples on four scales: compatibility, entertainment value, how much we liked them as a couple, and how much we liked the two individuals – or at least, the version of these people the show presented to us.
Without further ado, let’s rank Love is Blind from best to worst!
Diamond and Carlton
First off, I want to say that it was pretty bold for a show as heteronormative as Love Is Blind to feature a bisexual man. It has the potential to throw a real wrench in the formula of keeping men and ladies separate. How would the show handle Carlton expressing romantic interest in one of the other guys? There’s a lot of interesting potential there, and I hope that Love is Blind is open to having more LGBTQ+ contestants in the future.
That being said, Carlton comes across as kind of an asshole. I can understand how being bisexual in this situation can be stressful, but he should have acknowledged how not being open with his sexuality could trouble Diamond. Instead of owning up to the fact that he was wrong, he immediately goes on the offensive and tries to make her out to be the bad guy. This goes on for their first night on the Mexico honeymoon and boils into their infamous poolside shouting match in which Carlton calls her a bitch.
The two never see eye-to-eye, and it’s incredibly disappointing. I’m totally with Diamond on this. In this interview, she mentioned that a relative of hers was killed by a spouse who was verbally abusive, so it’s easy to see how Carlton’s outburst can be scary. Plus, knowing that he’s bothering her on social media is disheartening.
These two are not compatible at all, as we learned in Mexico, and most of the time I spent watching them made me cringe, but their poolside fight was at least entertaining (though still embarrassing for all involved).
Kelly and Kenny
My girlfriend and I had a joke when watching the show – whenever we’d first check in with K&K in any given episode, we’d pause the show and be like “Wait, who the fuck are these people! Why haven’t we seen them before!” Because against a colorful backdrop of characters, these two certainly end up being more forgettable.
In fact, I’m not going to include a picture of them. Yeah, that’s right, you’ve got to look them up.
It certainly feels like we learn so little about them as a couple, that when Kelly leaves Kenny at the altar it made me say “Wait, what? Why?” As far as I can remember, Kelly says something about expecting her husband would be brown-haired, but like… that can’t be the only reason, right? I understand why they’d get less screen time than anyone else, but it certainly takes some oomph from their wedding ceremony, which is actually pretty interesting. When Kelly leaves, Kenny keeps his komposure and thanks everyone for coming like the nice boy he is – Kelly’s mom then says “Wow, I really like him,” and it’s kute. We get the very human moment of Kenny backstage asking for them to turn the cameras off, and he’s clearly very vulnerable. It’s tough to watch, but his return to the reunion shows that he’s doing all right, and Kelly’s happy (?) for him. That’s about as good of a resolution as I can hope for with the show’s most blah couple.
Damian and Gianina
For the fucking life of me, I cannot understand how these two are back together. They get into big fights over the tiniest thing. Gianina seems to just be a generally confrontational person, which isn’t necessarily bad, but you need to be with someone who can handle getting into big, blow-out fights every single day. I don’t think Damian is that kind of person.
Inevitably, we do have to acknowledge the divide between reality and reality TV. Maybe they agreed beforehand that they weren’t ready to get married, and that’s why they’re still dating, who knows? And then, maybe, the big freakouts on the part of Damian, Gianina, and Gianina’s mom were all… staged? But Damian leaving her at the altar will forever throw an imbalance in their relationship, one that makes me think it must be impossible for the two to ever get married in earnest.
I never found myself sympathizing with either of these two because they’d often get into arguments about silly miscommunications. (One exception would be Barnett’s birthday where Damian negs Lauren for pretty much no reason – Gianina was right to fight him on that.)
The fiery arguments and combative conclusion make these two an entertaining couple to watch, but they’re such a mismatch that I never found myself rooting for them as individuals or a couple.
Mark and Jessica
Love is Blind was wildly successful in the month or so after it came out, and that would not be the case if not for Mark and Jessica, though particularly Jessica. To borrow from Lauren, “Jessica is a messica,” and that’s what made the show what it was. So much so, that I worry that later seasons of the show would lean further into finding big personalities, rather than focusing on the potentially interesting premise they have.
Judging by the way they present Jessica throughout the show, she’s not someone I’d like to be friends with. She leads Mark on, she pines after Barnett, she’s constantly drunk… And that’s what makes her fun to watch; that’s what makes the show fun to watch.
The Amber-Barnett-Jessica love triangle was far-and-away the clearest source of tension in this first season, mostly at Mark’s expense.
Jessica coming back to the reunion, mostly remorseful and totally accepting the fact that she was made out to be the bad guy of the show, does slightly hinder the entertainment value of the reunion. But then, that’s just how the reunion is closer to real life than the main show. It’s different circumstances, you get different characters.
But also, this woman gives wine to a dog.
Amber and Barnett
These two get caught up in the Jessica/Mark drama, but they’re interesting to watch on their own. The show wants to frame Amber as though she’s not good enough for Barnett – oh look, she’s awkward with his family, oh look, she’s got a lot of debt – but these things feel like hollow, manufactured reality-TV plots. I think the two play off each other nicely. And the last few episodes really sold me on these two as a couple.
Barnett’s something of the straight-man of the relationship, not exactly prone to memorable moments outside of the Pods; the way he has three girls interested in him during the dating phase and the way that that ultimately resolves is probably his biggest moment of personality. On the other hand, Amber is full of personality. Amber at the Bachelorette party had a funny Jekyll and Hyde dynamic. She had her drunk happy-cry where she talks about how much she loves Barnett, which is both heart-warming and hilarious. Then, her confrontation with Jessica where she says, “I know there’s nothing between the two of you because if there was, I would kill you,” while also having Jessica in an embrace is both scary and hilarious.
Their wedding was nice, and they seem happy together; they survived a lot during the course of the show, and it seems to have made them stronger. I really like these two.
Lauren and Cameron
Ah, Lauren and Cameron! The true heroes of the show. They were absolutely rock-solid throughout, and their wedding was the happy ending the show knew it had to conclude with. The show gave these two just enough drama to keep things tense and interesting, but I don’t think there was ever any real doubt that these two would say “I do.” If anything, the few times the show tries to drum up tension with “Oh, Lauren doesn’t want to move out of her apartment,” or anything silly like that, it feels manufactured. What’s more interesting is when we see stuff like Lauren’s dad meeting Cameron and grilling him, or Cameron rapping for Lauren’s mom. I love Lauren and Cameron, and I hope that subsequent seasons of the show can find a couple that is similarly wholesome and likable.
Anyway, how would you rank the couples of Love Is Blind? Was I too hard on anyone? Which couple was your favorite?