REVIEW: ‘Love is Blind’ revamps dating show formula, ‘brilliantly bonkers’


Courtesy of Netflix

Mark Cuevas looks off in the distance while talking to a potential suiter.

As a hopeless romantic who seems to be perpetually single, I know my way around reality dating shows – they offer the perfect balance of reinforcing that love is in fact real and that I am still not desperate enough to sign up for one of these competitions. Whether it be watching women compete for Flavor Flav’s attention in the VH1 classic “Flavor of Love’’ or the ever-growing smattering of TLC offerings like “90 Day Fiance,” love and relationships have become permanent characters on television today. Now, Netflix has entered the dating show arena with their 3-week limited series, “Love is Blind,” a refreshing take on the genre and an immediate hit.

“Love is Blind” found a devoted audience almost instantly because it works well on so many different levels – it’s endearing, shocking, utterly fascinating and overwhelmingly addictive. The premise in its own right piques your curiosity so much it’s hard not to watch: a group of singles all signed on to take part in an “experiment,” in which they form a deep emotional connection with someone, ultimately agreeing to marry them – the only caveat being that they have never seen what the other person looks like, all in the hopes of answering the question: is love really blind?

Of course, it’s reality television, so all of the people involved are unreasonably good-looking, mitigating any real risk, but the suspense it creates is riveting nonetheless. I also want to stress that the word experiment is used incredibly loosely as the show is undoubtedly heavily produced and it does not actually conduct a scientific experiment.

The first stage of the process involves two weeks of speed dating that take place in the pods, glamorously decorated sound-proof rooms that prevent them from seeing each other but allow them to begin forming an emotional connection through conversation. Without the distractions of everyday life, viewers watch as bonds form between contestants almost instantaneously.

With a proposal by minute 40 of the first episode, the rapid timeline is enough to get you hooked, leading you into the even more entertaining engagements, moving in processes and family introductions before the weddings, taking place all in the span of six short weeks.

The thought of falling in love so quickly and without ever seeing the person is so unbelievable that the first “I love you” exchanged in the pods resulted in an audible “What!?” in disbelief from myself on the couch. Yet, the sincerity of these people is tangible and their actions are extreme, challenging any doubts of the legitimacy of the relationships as they speak excitedly of future homes and children.

That is how “Love is Blind” works most effectively: presenting viewers with something so unbelievable that is happening just before their eyes, a perfect equation for a network that relies so heavily on binge watching and the social media discourse many of their shows produce. At a time where a show’s success is no longer confined to traditional metrics, “Love is Blind” has effectively taken over  a very dedicated subset of the internet. Twitter has already been flooded with memes from the show since its first episodes dropped on the streaming service on Valentine’s Day and have only become more plentiful after the finale premiered just days ago.

In short, “Love is Blind” is brilliantly bonkers, the epitome of a show so bad that it’s good. The stakes are high, the people inexplicably gorgeous, the feelings seemingly genuine and the episodes just short enough that you can roll into the next without a second thought.