Netflix has recently developed a penchant for solitary confinement. While contestants in The Circle were positioned in rooms through which their only communication is digital, Love Is Blind has one-upped that premise. The show’s rooms are now isolated pods and the communication is now strictly verbal — two people have to meet, fall in love, and get engaged without ever seeing each other.
The second batch of episodes from the new dating series dropped on Netflix on Thursday, and the pairs have now left the comfort of their isolated quarters in favour of starter apartments to test their love even further — but they can’t quite leave that pod life behind. Couples Jessica Batten and Mark Anthony Cuevas, and Giannina Gibelli and Damian Powers, opt to recreate their own versions of the pods in these new episodes in order to tap back into the communication styles that kicked off their romance.
Despite their dystopian name and premise, the pods were actually pretty cute. Positioned in pairs along an intimidating corridor, each room came with couches, snacks, and alcohol, sharing only one opaque window. On either side, contestants sat, chatted, and fell head-over-heels in love. Throughout the first couple episodes, as the couples mixed and matched while the speed dating got more serious, the budding couples would talk for hours. Certain contestants, like Matt Barnett, used that time to determine which woman they were going to propose to, or others, like Lauren Speed and Cameron Hamilton, filled the silence by answering one of life’s biggest questions: Is it ever too early to say “I love you”?
While most of Love Is Blind actually takes place outside the pods, the love chambers were the most formative part of the experiment, so it’s no wonder memories have stuck with the contestants over a year and a half later. When speaking to Refinery29 at an event, a handful of the cast — Jessica, Mark, Giannina, Damian, Lauren, Cameron, Carlton Morton, Diamond Jack, Kelly Chase, and Kenny Barnes — reflected fondly on their time in the experiment, and, more importantly, they answered every nagging question viewers have been shouting to the skies as they make their way through the series. Like the cast, we didn’t see a lot that went down in the pods — behind-the-scenes twerk lessons, salsa dancing, and a whole lotta naps — but I can safely say all of us fell in love.
Refinery29: At the beginning of the experiment, how did you request to talk to people?
Cameron: “The dates were organized for us and we would rate at the end of the day who we liked the most and the least. [The producers] would then use those rankings to figure out dates for the subsequent days. As the days went on, the length of the dates went longer but the number of people you saw got shorter.”
I spied vodka and Skittles. Were you able to choose the snacks and alcohol that were in your pod?
Kenny: “We could request stuff. If you wanted a special snack they'd go run and get it. Bailey's and coffee was my go-to. I didn't really drink any hard liquor — no beer. I couldn't eat cause I was honestly just messed up emotionally.”
Kelly: “I was eating more of a ketogenic diet. I just needed some meat and greens. But everyone else was being very, very particular. Like, ‘I need the chocolate chip pop charts with chocolate frosting.’”
Cameron: “Lauren and I had bonded over our love of Hennessy at one point. We went into the pod one day and then there was Hennessy in there for both of us. [The producers] listened.”
So, you were basically talking to a wall. How long did it take for the dates to stop feeling weird?
Jessica: “Oh man, it was uncomfortable for a little bit.”
Mark: “After a couple of days in there and after you've asked a certain amount of questions, you're kind of like, All right, here we go. What's the next set of questions?”
Carlton: “For me it was the moment that I put her name to her voice and didn't have to ask, Who is it that I'm talking to?”
Lauren: “For Cameron and I, I feel like we opened up right away. Even though we were in a pod, it was still like we were there with each other.”
What did you do if you knew right away you weren’t interested in someone but still had an hour to kill?
Carlton: “We ended up finding creative ways to turn that into sessions. I would sit and talk to the girls that I wasn't interested in about [Diamond] and try to reassure myself I'm making the right decision.”
Jessica: “For instance, I was with Cameron, I would have hour-long conversations with Cameron where we would just talk about Lauren.”
Cameron: “Some people actually did take naps in the pods cause they knew they weren't going to get together.”
Diamond: “One guy and I, we started dancing cause he knew I loved to dance, and we did salsa in the pod. So we were just making it more fun than anything.”
Mark: “It turned into a lot of genuine friendships.”
What was the longest amount of time you spent in the pod on a date?
Lauren: “There would be times where we would be talking for three or four hours and we would still keep talking and [a producer] would be like, ‘Okay guys, that's it. That's enough time.’ And we're like, Noooo! Even though it's been four hours, we need more time!”
When you weren’t in the pods, when and where did you sleep?
Kenny: “The first four days we filmed on average I'd say 18 to 20 hours. We slept in trailers and they were correctional facility beds. The design was to just strip us down from our comfort level.”
How did you kill time in between dates when you were back in those lounge rooms and weren’t allowed to use your phones?
Lauren: “The girls were with the rest of the girls and the guys would be with the other guys. We did everything. We baked, we had a twerk class. We would just have conversations, talk to each other about our experience, play pool. It was literally a sorority.”
Jessica: “I did a lot of journaling. I wanted to remember things because every day is like a month in there and so much can change.”
Kenny: “There were so many different things: plank challenges to get some testosterone and stress out. I baked a cake for the guys because I love cooking and stuff like that. We're getting four hours of sleep on cots. We'd wake up and go for runs. Like, We've got to get blood flow going or we're gonna lose our minds.”
This interview has been edited and condensed for clarity.