How Netflix’s ‘Love Is Blind’ makes you not want to love

In Netflix’s new reality TV show “Love Is Blind,” 30 singles meet unconventionally to test the boundaries of love and acceptance. It’s a cringe-worthy reality moment.

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Netflix tried really hard to produce a reality TV show. In the new series “Love Is Blind,” cameras follow 30 singles as they embark on a totally unconventional journey to seek love. Despite fancy furniture and weeks of lounging beachside, most contestants leave feeling emptier than before.

“Love Is Blind” is a big, reality mess — yet, it’s nothing anyone is shocked by.

The reality TV show offers the same disillusionment tendencies as ABC’s “The Bachelor.” (Minus its creepy premise where 25 women seek the attention of one man.)

But “Love Is Blind” is a concoction of both entertaining and cringe-worthy content.

In just 10 days, an attractive crew of 20 to 30-somethings talk to each other through a wall, or what the show calls “pods.” Essentially, these men and women talk candidly to get to know one another in hopes of finding a mate and developing a deeper connection. The rule is they cannot physically see each other until they are engaged. It’s mind-boggling.

Once couples bond, their compatibility results in engagement. The man gets down on one knee, and the wedding is four weeks later. You read that right. This reality TV show includes weddings and all.

The show is hosted by the spouses Nick and Vanessa Lachey who seemingly appear at random points during the show to remind contestants of the show’s uncanny “experiment” on love.

The hosts also reiterate their brand: “is love really blind?” Can these men and women develop a romantic bond through conversation and love each other despite not seeing outward appearances?

The contestants initially exude a sense of optimism during the pilot, but it’s not long before their doubts about love and each other unravel.

Fiancées Jessica Batten and Mark Cuevas bicker a lot. Batten cannot grapple with their 10-year age gap, and she might be into another contestant, Matt Barnett. Barnett is dating a woman named Amber Pike because he couldn’t really decide between three women, so he finally chose the one who terrified him.

Meanwhile, I was rooting for couple Diamond Jack and Carlton Morton from the beginning. Spoiler Alert: their romance ends catastrophically. Basically, Carlton is unsure about how to tell his fiancée that in the past he had been in a relationship with a man.

Diamond tells Carlton how upset she is that he decided to wait until after the engagement to confide in her. This is a realistic argument to consider. During the pod phase, couples engaged in extremely personal conversations. It was because these conversations that couples felt truly close to one another.

At one point, Diamond said, “Carlton is the man I have been praying for.”

Also, in Diamond’s defense, she agreed to hear him out. Calton’s reaction was to gaslight Diamond, insinuate it was all her fault, insult her and then bash on her wig. Not cool, dude.

Later on, viewers watch pair Kelly Chase and Kenny Barnes candidly discuss their intimacy issues. Amber opens up to Barnett that she has accumulated immense student loan debt. After an engagement and multiple weeks, this is the first time Amber is mentioning anything about debt. Now Barnett sees immediate red flags.

In fact, the overall show poses red flags.

Its premise gives off basic stereotypical gender codes. The man gets down on one knee to propose back in the pods when he decides it's a rightful time. The whole show is arranged within a heteronormative format and doesn’t give a voice to anyone who isn’t the same.

So much emphasis is put on marriage and future plans that these contestants hurried to find their match. As a result, contestants are dumbfounded when they encounter real-life matters. The men and women on “Love Is Blind” bought into the idea that dating on this show would be easy. They believed the Lachey’s “experiment” was revolutionary; that it would work for them.

In a scenario like Jessica and Mark’s, it doesn’t seem like she is even into him. Mark is loving and sweet towards her; he even tries to recreate their pod experience for a romantic date. Meanwhile, Jessica’s excessive drinking becomes problematic. She’s constantly slurring her words and, in a moment that went internet viral, Jessica fed her dog wine right from the glass.

In a later episode, possibly a tipsy moment, Jessica tells Mark how she thinks Barnett is very attractive.

I’m sorry, Mark.

It’s not absurd that these contestants profess their love and, within a matter of days, they realize their idea of love is more muddled than they thought.

Viewers aren’t surprised, as we saw this coming.

The realistic view is that no one comes to a relationship with a clean sheet; it’s never so simplistic. Everyone has a past and flaws. “Love is Blind” is a story of people who are eager for acceptance and love. Yet, this is a reality TV show, so it’s chaotic.

I am not sure why the producers figured that accelerating the dating process would make it more organic. The contestants want to give love and receive love back. Several say their perfect idea of love is just having someone to come home to.

However, in the larger context of the world, love is not something that can be felt based on the logic that you aspire to have it. In their plight to find love, most “Love is Blind” contestants left brokenhearted.

Barnett and Amber marry. However, Kelly and Kenny end their engagement along with Jessica and Mark’s dicey engagement. Not a shocker. Mark says he loved Jessica from the moment she said “hey” and, in the end, all Jessica says is “thank you.” It’s a classic scenario where the nice guy always loses.

At its core, this experiment shouldn’t be called “Love Is Blind,” but it should be called “Love Is Loneliness.”

Edited by George Frey | gfrey@themaneater.com

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