In a fantastic display of emotional volatility and human chaos, Netflix’s Love Is Blind concluded its messily compelling experiment on February 27, with the 10th and final episode of the season.
Giannina careened down into the muddy suburban Atlanta woods after being rejected at the altar. Barnett overlooked Amber’s credit card debt, student loans, and his game-playing past to marry her. Cameron and Lauren lived happily ever after, and baby-voiced villain Jessica dumped Mark, the only person in this entire universe who thought she wouldn’t dump him.
The finale was the perfect crystallization of this beautifully disturbed piece of reality television, a series that was focused on determining whether people could fall in love and marry someone they’d never met face-to-face in just 38 days. Netflix’s hilariously unhinged romantic experiment was its most popular show in the US over the past week, appearing atop the service’s newly instated trending feature and becoming a national obsession, so much that SNL spoofed it:
There’s little doubt that a second season is already in motion, thanks to Love Is Blind’s popularity. The show is also relatively cheap and easy to produce, and networks and streaming platforms have gone all in on many of their biggest hits, extending shows past their expiration dates.
The show’s creator, Chris Coelen, told Oprah magazine that he’s “100 percent” sure he wants to make a second season. “I want to see a season 2 or a season 12. Don’t you?” Coelen said.
Nope, absolutely not.
This is not to say the finale and the series weren’t spectacular, because they were. It’s not every day that you get to witness humans in formalwear engaging in buffoonery and emotional abuse. But what made Love Is Blind special was a combination of its audacious novelty and its contestants’ earnest lack of self-awareness. And that’s all at risk with the second season.
If Love Is Blind continues, it could go the way of The Bachelor. That’s far from a good thing.
In many ways, Love Is Blind is similar to ABC’s very successful Bachelor/Bachelorette franchise. Both shows take something intimate, in this case love and sex, and make it as un-intimate as possible. Eager singles meet someone desirable, and we watch as they fall in love or lust (or neither).
The Bachelor is now in its 24th season, and that show is a completely different beast than when it started. A huge reason is that by now, everyone is in on the joke — contestants and viewers alike know that most of the relationships forged by the reality television show end in broken engagements and breakups. The impetus of the show is no longer necessarily to win but to be memorable and maybe even become a future Bachelor or Bachelorette.
Emma Gray, host of the Bachelor analysis podcast Here to Make Friends, explained to Vox’s Reset podcast last month that getting famous on The Bachelor or The Bachelorette can mean contestants gaining hundreds of thousands of new followers on Instagram. Those contestants can then spin those followers into advertising agreements, marketing deals, and even their own YouTube channels. Essentially, the show helps them become influencers. Gray explained:
And I know that, for example, there is a couple, their names are Tanner and Jade. They got married. They have two children together now. And this has just opened up this massive world of marketing. The first year that the two of them were really going all in on Instagram marketing, they made more than a million dollars.
Tanner and Jade were both contestants on different seasons of The Bachelorette and The Bachelor and were eliminated. But both were later on Bachelor in Paradise, the spinoff show that’s even more debouched than the regular series, and married after finding love during Paradise’s second season. Their success as influencers (Tanner has over 600,000 followers on Instagram, and Jade has over 1 million followers) is a testament to how one doesn’t need to “win” the show to parlay it into a career.
Contestants on Love Is Blind are currently enjoying the same kind of social media boom. Cameron and Lauren, the sweethearts of the season, both have over 500,000 followers on Instagram. As does mistress of my heart and Love Is Blind chaos agent Giannina. Those kinds of numbers could be parlayed into lucrative sponsorships and ad partnership deals.
But Cameron, Lauren, Giannina, and their fellow contestants likely ended up with those followings because they took — or at least seemed to take — the Love Is Blind experiment seriously.
During filming in 2018 and even prior to it airing in 2020, no one knew what the show was or what the process — meeting someone in an isolated pod; getting engaged; taking a pre-honeymoon honeymoon in Mexico; moving in together; meeting each other’s parents; having bachelor and bachelorette parties; planning a wedding; and then finally getting married all in 38 days — was going to look like. Even if those details were explained in contracts, it had never been played out on television.
Since everything was unknown, contestants seemed more open and less self-aware as they might have been if they were on a show like The Bachelor, which has an established formula of group dates, eliminations, escalating one-on-one dates, hometown dates, fantasy suite overnight dates, and everything in-between.
This openness is how we get scenes like Cameron and Lauren crying with each other despite never seeing one another’s face or Giannina candidly fighting with her not-spouse Damian about her being the best sex of his life and him not quite doing it for her.
But the clearest example of the contestants’ lack of self-awareness came from Jessica, a 34-year-old with a baby voice. Jessica became the villain of the show for stringing along Mark, a man who proposed to her in the pods. Despite their engagement, Jessica seemed to still have her eye on Barnett, as evidenced by her constant talk about their “connection” and blatant flirting with him whenever she had a chance to see him, once the couples had been paired off. Jessica’s treatment of Mark didn’t win her very many fans, so much that she had to turn off comments on her Instagram account (with over 200,000 followers).
As with The Bachelor, contestants on any future seasons of Love Is Blind, should they keep going, will be savvier about what the show is. They’ll be able to learn from the first generation’s mistakes. They’ll be able to see how Lauren and Cameron were beloved versus the way Jessica was criticized and then make sure their behavior on the show emulates the former versus the latter.
Granted, the show could add new twists and turns, like the way Survivor does, to keep things fresh and unexpected. Perhaps the powers that be can alter the 38-day timeline or make it more competitive or cast people that look like actual regular people. But like The Bachelor, there will always be an ulterior motive for contestants to find a romance and become a main cast member that gets featured on the show.
The most surprising thing about Love Is Blind is that, despite its deranged premise and dastardly dystopian timeline of romance, its contestants seemed to be emotionally honest. Granted, based on interviews with the cast and creator, the drama of people getting jilted at the altar was probably orchestrated with the aid of producer intervention. Hypothetically, something like if the couple had gotten to a specific week, then the breakup would have to be at the wedding.
But the disastrous broken engagements and the happy endings wouldn’t be as effective if we didn’t believe in them and in the cast. That’s a feat in itself. By the end of Love Is Blind’s finale, I appreciated the anger, frustration, hopefulness the show gave me. And I think it’s for the best if it we just broke it off right here. Well, after the upcoming reunion episode that hits Netflix on March 5, at least.