Plenty of new reality series about insanely attractive singles looking for love have popped up over the years, from The Bachelor to Temptation Island and Married At First Sight, but not all of them have survived (RIP, Paradise Hotel). With so many competing reality series, it seems like the best bet to ensure a new competition show sticks around is to include elements of other, popular dating shows. Netflix’s Love Is Blind seems to have figured out this formula, as the streaming platform’s latest dating show-turned-social experiment combines the best and most ridiculous aspects of the wildly popular shows Bachelor in Paradise and 90 Day Fiancé to create a show filled with heart, cringe-worthy moments, and tons of drama. And then of course there's one key difference that sets Love Is Blind apart: The couples become engaged without seeing what their partner looks like first. So blind, if you will.
Getting engaged without seeing or touching a person is a pretty original concept, but once each couple forms, the process takes a page out of other reality dating shows' playbooks. It helps make Love Is Blind more relatable and less of a one-trick pony as the 10-episode series progresses.
The Bachelor and The Bachelorette have set the standard for dating shows, but it seems like the Love Is Blind creators either actively or subconsciously to cherry picked ideas from the popular spinoff Bachelor in Paradise. Like Bachelor in Paradise, Love Is Blind allows all of its contestants to get to know each other and build connections by giving them free reign over a designated space. No one is assigned a person or a date, they simply interact as they want to for a 10 day period (BIP is filmed over three weeks at a resort in Mexico). But with the twist, their interactions occur in “pods” where they can only hear the other person through an opaque screen. The contestants determine who they have the best connection with, but because of the free will aspect, there's potential for love triangles, just like on Bachelor in Paradise. While the men and women are quarantined to opposite sides of the Love is Blind compound to ensure no one sees the person they may fall in love with, the contestants all speak to the same people and compare their interactions when they return to their living quarters at night. And in case you're wondering, these love triangles don’t just disappear when they leave the compound; real connections are made in the pods, creating some sticky situations as an engaged contestants move into the real world, too.
The later episodes, when the newly engaged couples test their relationships in the outside world, their first step is a vacation in Mexico, which is an obvious nod to the Bachelor franchise's summer rose.
The final episodes of each series are also pretty parallel. On Bachelor in Paradise, each couple goes on a final, romantic date that usually includes a fantasy suite card (aka an invitation to have sex without cameras present). The couples then decide if they want to break up or get engaged on makeshift altar built on a sandy Mexican beach.
Before their wedding day, the engaged couples on Love Is Blind go on what could potentially be their final dates ever. Love Is Blind clearly uses more of its budget for these dates compared to Bachelor in Paradise because they range from helicopter rides to renting out a picturesque treehouse in the middle of the woods. Then, on the wedding days, the couples decide at the altar whether they want to say “I do” or basically become a runaway bride or groom. This all happens in front of their friends and families who they have been trying to convince for the past few episodes that their love is genuine. It’s all very messy, which means it's great reality TV.
But Love Is Blind also shares some DNA with TLC's 90 Day Fiancé, because everything that happens after the Love Is Blind couples leave the pods and meet for the first time are the exact same steps from the popular docuseries. On the TLC show, the couples have applied for K-1 visas and have 90 days to marry each other. During those 90 days, they meet in person, typically move in together, and meet each other’s families. In comparison, the timeline for Love Is Blind is quite short, considering the contestants only talk to each other in the pods for 10 days before getting engaged and having 28 days to marry (that's 38 days, which admittedly doesn't have quite the same ring to it). They are supposed to meet family and friends, although not every couple is successful at organizing these meetups. The Love Is Blind couples live together in apartments rented to them by the show and discuss where they will live once they are married. There's a little bit of a barrier between actually integrating their lives, because they move somewhere with neutral ground and no effect on their finances, unlike on 90 Day, where everyone's personal space is in play.
But some of the most compelling moments of Love Is Blind are when the contestants talk about real world issues like race, politics, and income. These are topics that are typically glossed over on dating shows, with the exception of 90 Day Fiancé. All the couples on 90 Day are forced to address the stigma of their relationship being solely for obtaining citizenship and they also learn about marital expectations in different cultures. On Love Is Blind, each couple has a unique societal issue that they address, including age and race — and in one case, severe money issues.
Love Is Blind is definitely an opportunity for viewers to side-eye the contestants and judge them for proposing to each other through walls after only talking for a limited amount of time. But, by improving on the models of those existing shows, Love Is Blind may just convince people to stick around.