Abby Sorkin ’20
TV and Film Columnist
March 5, 2020
Imagine for a moment, how different your dating life would be if you formed an emotional connection before a physical connection….
Reality dating TV Shows prioritize the physical connection, from the glamorous first looks as the bachelor/ette meets the gaggle of attractive people battling for their hand to the swim clad sun kissed British beauties who choose their partner based on looks alone. In fact, in “Love Island”, audiences know more about the contestants than those living in the villa do about each other at the start of the journey.
Netflix’s “Love is Blind” flips this traditional meeting on its head, having it’s contestants meet in pods where they can’t see each others faces.
Though containing the familiar themes of copious alcohol, seemingly manufactured drama and incredibly attractive participants, the description of one of the contestants after her successful marriage as a result of this experiment hits home, as she says, “we fell in love with each other’s souls before we ever saw each other.”
Netflix’s “Love is Blind” takes several attractive singles from the Atlanta area and places them in a controlled environment where they spend ten days speed dating the other gender in comfortable looking pods, ending with an engagement to someone they have never seen. The next few episodes follow them through their first nights as a couple, moving in together, meeting friends and family and eventually, the big day. In this series of six episodes, all airing this past month, Netflix attempts to engage with the ultimate question in the modern world of dating: is emotional connection enough?
Obviously we all know that sexual attraction usually fades with time, dulling to a simmer rather than an inferno after years together, so the emotional connection must be strong. Impressively, Love is Blind has produced two marriages that are still intact a year post-production, the underlying question does not get such an affirmative answer.
One of the reasons we cannot get a certain yes or no is because we as an audience do not see all the moments of the days within the pods, nor all the conversations. We also know from other interviews that eight couples left the show engaged, though three of them broke up without ever making it to the altar. Netflix did not have room to show us these stories, nor the fact that the conversations within the pods lasted for hours between the couples.
There were five couples that returned to the real world engaged and only two of them actually got married, even though everyone physically made it to the altar.
I would like to specifically compare the relationships between contestants Mark and Jessica, who had red flags from the word go, and between Cameron and Lauren, who’s relationship made people believe in love again.
One only has to scan the headlines from this latest season of the Bachelor to realize how much the audiences are used to waiting and hoping for these romances to fail and implode in dramatic fashion.
Speaking of waiting to watch the car crash, the audience’s attention was also primarily directed to the relationship of Mark and Jessica, a relationship that caused a dog to drink wine. From the moment in the pods where Jessica stated she was more seriously interested in Barnett, another contestant who actually did get married to woman he proposed to, audiences knew this relationship was in for a bumpy ride, especially since Mark clearly only had eyes for Jessica. Once back in the real world, Jessica continued to flirt with Barnett, lying to everyone around her by maintaining she has no feelings for Barnett. Instead, she told Mark, and the audience in confessionals, that she really, truly loved him. But at the same time, she obsessed over their age difference and seemed to seek out ways to get people to disapprove of their relationship, to no avail. So instead, in a move that everyone but Mark saw coming, Jessica just says no at the altar and talks about how proud she is of them working through their ups and downs even though she introduced all of the downs.
Cameron and Lauren, despite a four year age gap, different races and different jobs, engaged in emotionally honest conversations even outside of the pods and their only problem seemed to arise because they loved each other too much. One of the most representative moments occurred when Cameron showed Lauren the house that they are currently living in and she pointed out that the extra bedroom could be a kids room, something Cameron wants desperately. Cameron says in the confessional afterwards that he intended it to be an office for Lauren at first so the idea that they are that much on the same page truly shows their emotional compatibility.
Moments like these are why audiences fell in love with them from their first moment on screen. They offered a mix of honesty, humor and genuine care that is so absent in other reality dating shows – their relationship felt like a revelation.
Ultimately, honesty is required in any relationship but especially ones made in this manner. Like Lauren says in the confessional, wearing her wedding dress and a new last name, “I’ve been looking for Cameron for 30 years, apparently he’s been looking for me to. I’m glad we finally found each other.”
Image Credit: Netflix