My feminist-self was always at odds with Love Island. I loved the drama – I didn’t love that no-one really seemed above a size 12, that at least 70% of the show is based on looks, or the huge impact it was having on contestants' mental health. Enter Netflix and Love is Blind – a dating show disguised as a “social experiment”, where people fall in love and get engaged without having ever seen each other in the flesh. ‘Yes! A show where looks aren’t the be all and end all!’ I screamed internally.
Spoilers, they’re all gorgeous. Of course.
Contestants spend ten days speed dating in ‘pods’, where they can talk to one another, but their appearances remain unknown. Within these ten days, contestants supposedly fall in love and propose to their partner, just through talking. After which, they meet for the first time in person, and jet off to Mexico. What they don’t know, however, is that all the other people they might’ve dated just happen to be staying at the same resort as them… cue some chaos. Then it’s back to America to move in together, meet the parents and plan the wedding. Oh yeah, they all stay in the same apartment block as well – so the possibility of living next-door to your ex is higher than normal.
As someone who’s never fully gotten the concept of dating shows (First Dates has always been about as much as I could cope with) – Love is Blind is probably my new guilty pleasure. I was constantly messaging contestants names in capital letters to friends whenever a new bout of drama hit (about every ten minutes of an episode), and borderline tearing my hair out whenever someone decided to open another bottle of wine for Jessica.
Where do we draw the line at filming someone for the purpose of the show, and being a decent human being and respecting their wishes?
Ultimately, Love is Blind is a bit of a tricky one. I went into the show hoping for more diversity than most dating shows, and out of curiosity at the idea of this being a “social experiment”. But, as most reality tv does, it has a lot of flaws. Some sequences are pretty heart-wrenching to watch; someone asks the camera crew repeatedly to leave him for a minute, but they keep filming. Where do we draw the line at filming someone for the purpose of the show, and being a decent human being and respecting their wishes? There’s always the ‘well they signed a contract’ excuse – but emotions should mean more than that piece of paper does.
But after the death of Caroline Flack and previous Love Island contestants, maybe it’s time to take a step back from the drama of dating shows, until we know how to support contestants and their mental health to the best extent. Love might be blind, but we don’t need a Netflix show to tell us that.