Is love truly blind? Former lead singer of boy band 98° Nick Lachey certainly thinks so, and why shouldn’t we believe the man who brought us “It’s Gonna Be Me”? Wait, that was NSYNC. I mean “I Want It That Way.” Wait, that was the Backstreet Boys. Well, why should we believe him then?
Lachey tells us why as the new host of Netflix’s Love is Blind. “Psychologists believe that emotional connection is the key to long-term marital success, not physical attraction.” Well...duh. It seems quite obvious that any sustainable relationship—marriage or not—depends upon emotional connection, but Netflix has set out to see whether it can depend only on what’s on the inside. A dozen men and women speed date over the course of 10 days in order to get to know each other, except they never get to see each other. The participants rotate between different “private pods,” speaking to another participant through a thin wall (though I’m sure there are some microphones involved…).
To open the first episode, Nick, alongside his co-host and wife Vanessa, speak to the woes of dating in the modern world. My roommates, who became interested in the obscure program I had put on, could not help but insert commentary throughout the show’s introduction. “Your value is solely judged by the photo on your dating app. But everyone wants to be loved for who they are. Not for their looks, their race, their background or their income,” Nick tells the participants. We couldn't help but agree, though we recognized that not all modern dating happens online and online dating can lead to loving someone for who they are. “You won’t ever get to see each other.” Just like the show wanted (Is Netflix listening?), we all inserted our opinions regarding how much looks play into whether or not we grow to like or even love someone. “Once you choose the person you want to spend the rest of your life with, you’ll propose.” Just four minutes and three seconds into the show, we had to pause the show just to make sure we heard correctly. Propose? Fiance? Rest of their life? Within 10 days, each person can choose to propose to their newfound true love , but will only be able to see them if the other person accepts their proposal.
I cannot count the number of perplexed glances that flew across and around our Iggy living room throughout the show’s first episode. First, marriage? We heard the first “I love you” within three days and confusingly witnessed their proposal within four. Netflix literally looked at 90 Day Fiancé and said, “Hold my beer.” Second, the explanation of the logistics of the show was lackluster, leaving us confused and arguing about the number of contestants, the speed dating process, and the length of conversations between the participants. We even tried to figure out the logistics of how the private pods were situated in relation to the hallway. You’ll get it once you watch, I promise.
Instead, the show meanders back and forth between interviews with each participant and the participants getting to know each other, which a strong emphasis on specific couples. This brings me to the final source of annoyance: the things that the participants were actually talking about. There are so many head-scratching moments that it’s hard to pick favorites. Just kidding, I can! “In less than 24 hours, I have found three guys that I could see myself with for the rest of my life.” How? People can barely find a partner that special in less than 24 years. “I definitely want to get married. Who doesn’t want to feel loved? Like, that’s just a basic human necessity. If you say you don’t want it, you’re a liar. Go to therapy.” Claiming that marriage is the only possible source and test of true love remains a problematic theme throughout the show. Granted, all of these participants are entitled to their feelings and opinions, and their quirky personalities are what make the show watchable. Such problematic moments even spawn as talking points among friends watching the show. As The New Yorker’s writer Troy Patterson explains, “Vast idiocies of human behavior provoke moments of thoughtful reflection.”
Like Patterson, I find one of the show’s most interesting elements to be its claim as an experiment, rather than just a dating show. Nick Lachey holds, “This is the first time an experiment like this has ever been done,” and the show really hammers down the idea. They refer to the setup as a “facility” and constantly remind viewers of the day of the experiment, as well as the number of days until the wedding. The first batch of episodes has been released, showing which couples decide to propose and which leave the “facility” without love. The next batches will be released in the coming weeks, showing the couples moving in together, meeting each others’ parents, getting ready for the weddings, and ultimately getting married. Whether or not the marriages take place is left unknown and will serve as the experiment’s “results.”
All in all, Love is Blind will undoubtedly serve as brief entertainment for any bored browser of Netflix’s catalog, and the strange basis of the show and irksome nature of some participants may make them skip forward to the weddings, only to realize they have to wait another two weeks to actually see them.
What is certain is that the show will not produce the next big psychological discovery that it hopes to reveal. As a psychology major, I also must present a key factor of the show’s experiment that is being sorely overlooked. Isn’t it likely that love is much blinder when all of the contestants are decently good-looking, average people? So, love is blind, but the catch is they are all a catch.