Netflix’s new reality show turned out to be a tangled mess. But it’s also brutally indicative of the way Western society currently falls in love. Or into attraction. Or marriage. And after all, television. As chaotic, unorthodox and cringeworthy Love is Blind is, it is a crystal-clear societal mirror.
The show claims to be a ‘social experiment’. There are fifteen women and fifteen men, living apart from each other. Plus, there are two rows of fifteen pods, separated only by milky-blue walls. Every day the cast members go into the pods for ‘dates’ and see if they can fall in love with a voice and an emotional connection. If they fall in love within ten days of pod-dating and they decide to get engaged, they can finally meet face to face. And from that point, they have four weeks until the actual wedding, in the meantime going through a pre-honeymoon, living together, meeting parents and friends, and eventually, getting to know the person they blindly decided to spend the rest of their lives with. Of course, the cameras are constantly on them.
The show’s first goal was to eliminate the physical aspect of the dating game. However, all the cast members are – conventionally – attractive. Most of them are also white and young. The show would have been a great chance to tackle conventionally established beauty standards, but instead it enforces them with an iron fist. Same thing applies to conservative gender-stereotypes: the girls’ quarters are full of champagne glasses, fluffy blankets and sparkly pillows, whilst the girls themselves are polished in fancy dresses and flawless makeup. Meanwhile, the guys sip on whiskey, all of them immaculately dressed either in suits or sport-casual, and the quarters are in more minimalist, masculine style.
Second, the premise itself is inherently problematic. Imagine telling somebody secrets you barely admit to yourself, declaring love and deciding to spend the rest of your life with them, after only a few days of talking. All that and without seeing the other person, without having to look into the eyes of somebody and deal with societal norms. Similar happens in a lot of modern dating cases, when people claim to fall in love through text conversations or with little face-to-face contact – grasping an idea of a person and creating somebody perfect for them in their mind. So, when the cast members see each other, the most awkward situation presents itself: having to build up a relationship to match their pre-made illusions with strangers who know too much about them. It can be a bloody struggle even without having a camera pointed at your face and sneaking into your bedroom, while you are supposed to build intimacy and show your purest, almost sacredly vulnerable self.
Still, the cast members are eloquent, and they progressively mature through the show. When the time of reflection comes, we can see that they are intelligent people, who come to painfully genuine conclusions about the whole experiment.
Overall, Love is Blind is still bingeable, it is addictive. Against all the darkness and heaviness that lingers in the back of one’s mind throughout the show, it is light and sparkly, sweet and somehow surprisingly honest. With all the toxicity in the world today, it is worth watching, and it poses a lot of questions for everyone to chew through.
Image: Leland Francisco via Flickr