Being a brief review of the latest Netflix series Love is Blind
In Which Yr Correspondent Attempts to Find out How Low the Romantic Bar is Set in the 21st century
So, I am a member of several groups dedicated to mocking online dating culture, and, I will admit, a fair amount of that is the voyeuristic thrill that comes from being able to say, “I’m no Casanova, but at least I’ve never asked to see a woman’s breasts as an opening line.” It’s that quaint reassurance that, no matter how bad you are at something, there is still someone far more inept than you. I’m starting to think that is the universal denominator that unites humanity.
Enter Love is Blind, stage left, a show seemingly designed to reassure you that, no matter what sort of unattractive, walking train wreck of a human being you are, there is still someone worse off. There is so much to dissect here that I feel spoiled for choice. First of all, there’s the run-time; an hour an episode. I have a friend who’s a television producer who says it takes something like 500 man-hours to produce a half-hour of reality television. Which means that it took — hang on — 1000 man hours to make the pilot (which is probably the only episode I’ll review). There’s Reassurance #1: No matter how bad you might feel about your life, at least you’re not trapped in an airless editing bay trying to figure out which ten seconds of interview really captures the authentic tone of Jessica.
I haven’t even hit the “play” button yet.
Welp, that was a mistake. Opening shots of generic metropolitan ‘Merica, Could be Oakland, Chicago, anywhere in Los Angeles County, Boise, we don’t know. This is the show’s first attempt to reassure viewers that a bizarre reality television-style romantic experiment could happen in your town.
15 seconds in
I already hate everyone on this show. More than I’ve loved anything. Everyone is already whining about Internet dating, even though every single person is in the range of “fairly conventionally attractive” to “supermodel hot.” Then they start speaking, and you quickly realize why they’re all single. Every single person is either partially, or completely nuts (if you have a diagnosed chronic mental illness, rest assured, you are probably still in greater control of your psyche than these folks). “It’s not all about physical attraction in the long run, it’s about who’s holding your hand on your deathbed,” says one. I get that society is needlessly cruel to single people, and that can place an inordinate pressure to romantically pair off, but imagine going into a first-date situation and placing that sort of mental pressure on the other person. “The reason I came here is there’s men who actually want to get married, they want commitment, they’re looking for wives, I’m like, ‘What? Where?” Right outside the door, super-hot woman who is suspiciously desperate. You must, however, put on pants.
1 minute, 10 seconds in
Yeah, everyone on this show is clearly dysfunctional, and they’ve agreed to air their romantic grievances on-air, but they’re being paid to do so, and they get to live in an apartment complex that is nicer than any place you or anyone you know has ever lived in. Who’s the crazy one, now?
1 minute 28 seconds
Well, that brief spike in sympathy didn’t last. We’re on to someone else hoping to meet someone who will be with them until they’re 95. I would love to have the sort of psychosis that allows me to believe I’ll live to be 95, in addition to the madness that would lead me to believe that, at age 95, my biggest problem would be who I’m waking up next to.
“Growing up, I wanted to be like Hugh Hefner. a stylish guy who can have his pick of the litter. But, there comes a time in every man’s life where he has to settle down. I’m so ready to find a wife.”
Okay, overlooking the glaring misogyny of that statement, someone actually unironically views Hugh Hefner as the ideal lifestyle standard? I mean, my brother and I joke about it all the time, in the context of, “Hey, wouldn’t it be great to be so rich and powerful you never had to leave your house if you didn’t want to?” Rarely has that joke had the subtext of, “I want to date more women than I can readily recall, most of whom are a quarter my age.” Which definitely has a darker, creepier vibe to it.
Also, who says you have to settle down? If your only goal in life is to date and sleep with attractive people, you do you, man. I get that the entire premise of this show is, “Being single sucks, and so do single people,” but arbitrary, self-imposed misery seems like a genuinely teachable, self-help moment about being comfortable in your own skin and — Screw it, it’s a vapid reality show that serves to showcase humanity at its worst.
Also, props to the short guy (I’m so uninvested in this show that I’m not even going to remember their names) for pointing out that height and other arbitrary physical judgments can hinder our — welp, that was another almost-interesting moment that wasn’t as important as…
2 minutes, 28 seconds
Who the hell are Vanessa and Nick Lachey? Why are they the anointed monarchs of Love Hell? I can almost visualize the Netflix executives deciding who should “host” this thing:
Executive 1 (E1): Who should host this weird exploration about the superficiality of modern romance that is also oddly superficial?
Executive 2 (E2): Self-help gurus Oprah and Doctor Phil?
E1: She’s too expensive, nobody likes him any more.
E2: Noted romantic advice columnist Dan Savage and/or noted sex therapist Esther Perel.
E1: They say this is beneath them, and they don’t want to contribute to the decline of Western Civlization.
E2: John Wayne?
E1: He’s dead, and not noted for his rom-com appearances.
E2: Vanessa and Nick Lache?
E2: Hire them.
2 minutes, 30 seconds
“Here you will choose someone to marry… without ever seeing them.”
Oh, Gods, it’s the ninth circle of hell. I get that we place far too much emphasis on superficial aspects of people, but, at the same time, wouldn’t you at least want to spend a week living with the other person, first? They could be a serial killer, or wash their socks in the sink, or have awful parents you despise. Ironically, by attempting to eliminate superficial stuff, they’ve somehow accentuated the importance of it.
2 minutes, 52 seconds
“Your value is often judged based solely on a single photo on a dating app.”
I can’t be the only one who finds it weird that so many extraordinarily attractive women are nodding at this. Also, just putting this out there as a possibility, if you’re unsatisfied with dating apps as a way to meet people, there are other ways to meet people, such as leaving the house and actually meeting people. Join a bowling league, that’s why they exist. I realize that these possibilities all require you to shower, put on pants, and leave the house, but there are trade-offs to every solution.
3 minutes, 30 seconds
The rules are laid out. The participants are only allowed to interact under strictly controlled and supervised conditions, in which both parties can only “see” each other in “pods,” which will block both parties from seeing one another. I will not make a 2001: Space Odyssey joke, because it would be too easy. Also, I get that modern romance is not fun — believe me, I’ve bought into that sentiment — but do they have to do it under circumstances that recreate visiting inmates in prison? Why don’t they just put LSD in the water, and film the inevitable melt-downs that will occur? That seems a little kinder than the intricate, completely-rigged-for-failure system Netflix is putting in place.
4 minutes, 5 seconds
“You’re going to leave here as an engaged couple, with a wedding date.”
It seems that if your only goal in life is to make a really bad romantic decision out of desperation, with lasting repercussions, you could just go to Vegas on a three-day weekend. Seriously, this is a Catch 22 scenario that would have anyone with even a shred of sanity or dignity fleeing at high-speed.
4 minutes, 20 seconds
“In just four weeks, you’ll be at your wedding.”
I’m just watching this utterly stupid show, and that statement fills me with dread. So, reader, I’d like to paint a nightmare scene for you. It’s dark and rainy out, and it’s 3 am. You are aroused from your slumber by odd noises coming from the kitchen. Because you’re reasonably certain this isn’t a horror movie, you walk to the kitchen to investigate. There, in the darkness, is Nick Lachey, drinking milk from the carton. He looks at you and tells you, “In just four weeks, you’ll be at your wedding.”
To be fair to the show, it knows it’s simply trading in absurdly extreme scenarios, but it relishes that and simply piles them on. At the same time, I’m very frightened on behalf of the contestants. If they don’t decide they want to marry someone they’ve known for less time than it takes for frozen food to go bad, are they taken out back behind the pods and killed? Is this entire spectacle just a weird run-up to Netflix’s upcoming, “Nick Lachey: The Most Dangerous Game?” Okay, I’m going to get some chips or a snack or something that discourages me from continuously commenting on the insane awfulness of this show.
11 minutes, 2 seconds
Wow, a new record; more than five minutes without something noteworthy or interesting to comment on, although that might be because the bag of Maui Onion chips I’m eating is way more engaging and fascinating than this series. Seriously, they’re salty, tangy, sweet, and there’s just a hint of garlic, it’s delicious junk food… Right, the show. So, two things:
- Why do all of the men have notepads that they’re diligently writing in whilst talking to the women? I realize that the goal of this is to remove the more-superficial aspects of dating, but if someone brought along a notepad to a date and said, “I like to take detailed notes of our conversations,” you would call the police and get a restraining order.
- Why is everyone dressed like they’re attending a cocktail party? The only real benefit to this bizarre experiment is that you could just roll out of bed, hair disheveled, and just head to the ominously-named dating pods. If you really want to take full advantage of this experiment, why not just show up in sweatpants and crocs?
Anyway, back to my chips. Also, the show.
12 minutes, 45 seconds
After a weird, forced interaction where one contestant tries to guess another’s ethnicity based on her voice, she (the woman), says, “Who cares what my complexion is. I’m a woman, that’s all you need to worry about, that I don’t have a penis.” So, to recap, before the 15-minute mark, we’ve got sexism, light racism, and some mild transphobia. Welcome to the dating scene in Donald Trump’s ‘Merica.
15 minutes, 52 seconds
It has taken me almost 16 whole minutes to realise it is far more entertaining to write about this celluloid abomination than endure it. There are blind cave fish that are more charismatic and charming than these people.
So, now the contestants are judging each other based on the sound of their voices? In an effort to decrease the superficial nature of modern dating, Netflix has simply lowered the superficiality bar?
That’s it. That’s the maximum dosage I’m willing to tolerate. If you’re in a romantic rut, if you doubt your own romantic abilities, watch this show. You are not half as awful, dull, or stupid as the folks on this show.
Now, if you’ll excuse me, the next season of Altered Carbon is also on Netflix.