love is blind
Netflix

Love Is Blind… and apparently tone deaf

Your wedding day is supposed to be the happiest day of your life. You plan every tiny aspect of your perfect day for months and months, ready to show the world your love and commitment to your long-term partner. Or not, if you appear on Netflix’s new reality show Love Is Blind. Instead, you are part of a string of freakishly identikit weddings in the same bland venue, wearing a dress lovingly picked out by the production team and marrying a man you met in a ‘pod’ a month earlier.

The concept is a sort of pseudo-scientific dating experiment based on the notion that love is blind. It all sounds very noble – you fall in love with the person not their body, beauty is more than skin deep etc. Luckily, the production team has rustled up a group of gorgeous, middle class 20-and-30-somethings, which somewhat misses the point of the whole show.

It’s kind of like The Voice, but instead of chairs spinning round, you get down on one knee after seventeen hours of chit-chat

These glamorous singles are sent to live in a Big Brother-style apartment, boys on one side and girls on the other. Over the course of a few days, they get to know each other by entering into ‘pods’ – cosy little dating chambers where they chat to faceless contestants on the other side of a futuristic panel, all while wrapped in a blanket and chugging red wine. The idea is that they will find their soulmate and propose after five days of inane conversation, without ever having seen them. It’s kind of like The Voice, but instead of chairs spinning round, you get down on one knee after seventeen hours of chit-chat. Somehow, against all odds, this actually seems to work. After just 20 minutes of viewing time they’re already professing their love to one another.

Of course, after these shotgun engagements, it’s time for a romantic couple’s holiday, meeting the family, and before you know it, they’re walking down the aisle! It’s pretty much every single weird aspect of reality TV rolled into one – the desperation of The Bachelor, the voyeurism of Sex Box and the impending marital disaster of Don’t Tell the Bride. Rather than walking down the aisle to ‘Here Comes the Bride’, the whole ceremony is overlaid with tense music, making the whole thing feel less ‘declaration of undying love’ and more ‘announcing the winner of X Factor’.

Everything from the division of the genders to the idealistic fixation on marriage feels completely out of place in 2020

Despite the ‘ground-breaking’ format, Love Is Blind still manages to feel unbelievably old fashioned. Everything from the division of the genders to the idealistic fixation on marriage (they all witter on about forever as if divorce isn’t a thing) feels completely out of place in 2020. The only contestant who isn’t straight is Carlton, whose bisexuality is manufactured into some great drama resulting in the end of his relationship with Diamond. It comes off bizarrely as well; while he may very well have had struggles with his sexuality in the past, his explosive defensiveness seemed completely unnecessary, and their relationship took a nosedive so quickly I genuinely thought I’d missed something. One second they were staring into each other’s eyes whinging about the importance of truth, the next he’s dragging her for her lace front. This was a pretty divisive moment for viewers, and both contestants have received death threats as a result of this poorly judged argument.

The rest of the series didn’t really make me feel anything more than gently bemused horror

The rest of the contestants are equally as wild. From baby-voiced Jessica feeding her dog wine, to Amber’s fart jokes in front of her fiance’s conservative family, they certainly provide plenty of shock factor. The show’s main redeeming factor is the blossoming relationship between Cameron and Lauren which actually feels vaguely genuine.

It’s certainly a strange viewing experience. Did I obsessively binge-watch every episode? You bet I did. But did I enjoy it? Actually… I’m not so sure. Apart from welling up at Lauren’s father seeing her in her wedding dress for the first time, the rest of the series didn’t really make me feel anything more than gently bemused horror.

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