“My physical insecurities have definitely affected my dating life,” Love is Blind season 2 participant Chassidy says. “This experiment allows me to be judged for who I am as a person versus the physical.”
Her words are the first ones in Love is Blind season 2, not including the lyrics of Katy Perry’s “Unconditionally,” and they are compelling ones.
Being dismissed based on cursory first impressions is wrenching, and I can understand how appealing Love is Blind is: an opportunity to be free of those superficial trappings, of swipes left, of rejection due to the exterior and not the interior.
Then Chassidy disappears from Love is Blind. So does Hope, the only other person in a larger body in the cast this season. They’re just poof! Gone in episode two. (The show only focuses on people who end up getting engaged, so they clearly did not.)
Their absence was noticed, as was the way some of the remaining cast members discuss their own weight loss pathologizes being in a larger body, even though weight and health are not synonymous, and people in smaller bodies can be less-healthy than someone in a larger body.
Instead of time and attention to Chassidy or Hope, Love is Blind gives us Shake, a veterinarian and DJ, who repeatedly tries to figure out the women’s body size, race, age, and weight: “Latina vibes over there.” “What’s your size?” “You like working out” “How old are you? I prefer dating younger.” “Will I have trouble picking you up?”
Why someone who’s so uncomfortable not knowing physical characteristics is on Love is Blind is not clear, but Shake eventually gets engaged, and then is sad about the lack of “an intense physical connection.”
The show’s title insists Love is Blind, but the show itself is far less convincing—even if it has worked.
“This experiment is now a proven approach to finding love,” Nick Lachey, obviously, says at the start of the start of Love is Blind season 2.
He’s referring to Cameron and Lauren, and Amber and Matthew from season one, who are still together. It’s not a bad track record for this genre, in which actual connection is far down the priority list from creating buzzworthy drama (for the producers and network) and growing Instagram followers (for the participants).
After asking the cast if they think dating “has become extremely superficial,” Vanessa Lachey tells the cast members, “Over the next 10 days, you guys are gonna finally have the chance to fall in love based solely on who you are on the inside—not because of your looks, your race, your background, or your income.”
There is some racial diversity, but in terms of looks, everyone is hot, because reality TV refuses to cast people who are not attractive. How superficial is that?
The truly absurd part of this experiment for me, though, is the time. Ten days! That’s about one month less than the six weeks Bachelor and Bachelorette contestants have to wade through the pool of influencers to find someone there for the right reasons for them to dump after they’ve gotten their Us Weekly cover story.
Why this obsession with getting married in less than two weeks? Of course, what controls all of this is the television show’s filming schedule. I do wonder if that timeline places pressure on the cast to perform, to do what they’ve been brought there to do: get engaged and/or create drama.
In those 10 days, the cast members sometimes do have interesting conversations, which makes sense since they have nothing else to do, having been cut off from the outside world and their normal social lives.
But those conversations should be the first step instead of the end. Shayne points out they’re skipping boyfriend/girlfriend, and going directly to engaged. As we all know, the key to successful relationships is not spending any time together—and gaslighting your potential partner, as Shayne first does when he confuses Natalie for someone else.
Like season one, Love is Blind managed to engage me for half of its first episode. But it just becomes deeply silly when people who’ve talked through a speaker in a wall get engaged and then treats that moment as if the heavens above are opening.
It’s not romantic, it’s moronic. Relationships and connections take time and work, but Love is Blind has to race toward its heteronormative outcomes.
The men are actually told they’ll propose to the women, whose fathers will surely be thrilled the producers helped them finally unload that property.
As Gen Z embraces diversity in gender, most of reality TV romance is still stuck in 2000. Flirtations with actual diversity—whether that was MTV’s gender-fluid Are You The One cast or a bisexual person on Bachelor in Paradise—seem like one-time things.
Given an opportunity to produce a dating show free of the demands of ad-supported TV, Netflix has just followed in those well-worn tracks.
It’s so regressive it even highlights a moment of gay panic, as two men refuse to do side planks while facing each other, because looking at one another is just too much.
Love is Blind is in no way an experiment, it’s just more of the same, slightly repackaged. Its best idea is showing more of the arc of a reality TV relationship; instead of ending at engagements, it gets there by mid-season.
But it is still nothing fundamentally different than The Bachelor circa 2002.
Love is Blind
Love is Blind is not the experiment it wants to be, it’s just every other reality TV dating show, slightly repackaged. C+
What works for me:
- Showing the arc of a reality TV relationship
- The pods are fun, and seem like they have some nice snacks there
What could be better:
- Less rushing to the engagements
- More diversity in casting, including sexual orientation and gender, to try for a real experiment?
- Less reinforcement of archaic gender norms and traditions