If you love reality TV, chances are you have seen Love Is Blind. If not, this rundown and review will be all you need to get watching
By Sarah Hughes
I’m an absolute sucker for reality TV and I’m a sucker for a bit of romance too. So Netflix’s smash hit show, ‘Love Is Blind’ is right up my street (along with Love Island, First Dates and Married at First Sight. Obvs). Now into it’s fourth season, the show has that perfect mix of drama, sentiment and outrageously good looking, but nevertheless flawed people. I was an early adopter and threw myself all in from season one. If you’re not familiar with the frankly genius concept of the show; allow me to quickly enlighten you.
What’s the concept?
Each season approximately fifteen women and fifteen men all move into two sides of a huge plush house living together in their gender groups. You get to see little friendships, or in some cases almighty factions forming as the contestants dating journeys progress and the competitive spirit to snare a mate for life comes out.
Along a huge corridor separating the two parts of the house are ‘the pods’; small, cosy but plush little interview rooms complete with snuggly sofas. Over the course of about ten days, the various contestants ‘date’ each other in the pods without ever meeting face to face or having any idea of what their date looks like. As the days go by, inevitably bonds start to form and the daters start to whittle down their choices, choosing to talk to just a couple of guys or gals.
What’s great about the pods?
So often in the dating arena (and I speak from experience having unexpectedly re-entered that scene at the age of 40), we rule out possibly great people because of pre-conceived ideas we have about them. Or, let’s be honest, because their shoes give us ‘the ick’.
In the pods there’s none of that, you’re forced to take people at face value, rather than the value of their face, so to speak. So you get to see really surprising connections between people who you wouldn’t put together in the outside world, maybe because they don’t match up aestetically.
The anonymity of the pods also seems to allow the contestants to be much more vulnerable with each other. I don’t know, maybe you can open up more if you’re not worrying about having spinach in between your teeth or whether your mascara has smudged.
There’s a lot of talk throughout the series about ‘core values’ and I actually do think there’s something in that. Views on faith, fidelity, finances etc can possibly all be heard more clearly when you’re not distracted by your dates physical appearance and all the feelings that physicality stirs in you.
What’s not so great?
Ok; it’s time to get shallow guys. I apologise. What’s not great about the pods is the moment the contestants are set free from them.
Occasionally, there’s a couple who you just know are going to be fine. As well as the mental and emotional connection they’ve developed ‘blind’, the moment they set eyes on each other you can see that there will be a physical connection too. There’s that twinkle in the eye, the je ne sais quoi.
But in the majority of the couples I’ve witnessed, it’s hard not to notice one of the couple (it’s rarely both of them) desperately trying to hide their disappointment. He’s way shorter than she imagined and she has to hunch down to kiss him. Or she’s a little heavier than he imagined and when he goes to pick her up and spin her around it doesn’t quite work out. It all too often just feels a little awkward. And so begins the process of the less keen person trying to ‘ work on the physical connection’.
If love was truly blind, surely they wouldn’t even notice anything physical, since they’re now head over heels in love with that person for who they are?
The idea is that by the end of a couple of weeks, couples have formed, they have fallen in love with each other ‘sight unseen’ and the man (yep, still hanging onto that ol’ tradition) proposes to the woman. Over the four seasons I’ve seen this go beautifully well and horribly wrong. I’ve watched it delivered through the art of song (cringe) and poetry (even cringier)... and I always sit head in hands watching the woman shout “Yes! One million times, yes!”. There’s then the big reveal which as I just described can be exquisite or exquisitely painful to watch.
Fast forward a month and they’re walking down the aisle in front of their nearest and dearest to say I do… or I do not.
Why am I putting myself through this folks? Why are the 30 million households who regularly tune in so hooked? Surely it’s because the idea of true love really being blind, that is; totally unreliant on aesthetics, is just the most deeply romantic and hopeful thought. We’re all just a little bit Disney deep down aren’t we?
What do the experts say?
It might seem shallow to assume we can only truly fall in love with someone once we’ve seen their physical appearance, but Professor Viren Swarmi of Anglia Ruskin university bears this out saying that “In reality, romantic relationships are based partly on the fact we find each other physically attractive.” She goes on to say that yes, people can form close relationships based on the sound of their voice or on social cues and sense of humour. But it’s hard to maintain that close relationship if the physical appearance isn’t what you were hoping for.”
Dating expert Charley Lester, who founded dating app Lumen, states that people who are more likely to be successful in a format like Love Is Blind are older candidates, who are very sure about what they want from a partner. They tend to be prepared to really commit to the process once they’ve found someone whose values really align with their own.
Is the proof in the pudding?
And by that I mean; does ’Love Is Blind’ produce the goods when it comes to long term love?
Well, the odds aren’t actually as bad as I thought they’d be! It turns out that out of 20 engaged couples (across all four seasons), seven are still together. Sure you’d expect much better stats in the real world. But considering they’ve met in the manner they did, and then been thrust into the spotlight having every second of their relationship scrutinised by millions, seven out of twenty suddenly doesn’t seem so bad.
There are however no stats available on how many of the 20 couples absolutely despise each other now…Call me a cynic, but I’d go pretty high on those odds you know.