Love Is Blind Is A Wild Dating Show That Exposes The Pressure Of Falling In Love

Photo courtesy of Netflix
Dating apps propose a stressful juxtaposition: easy access to an abundance of potential partners but exponential effort without guaranteed results. It varies, of course, but dating app fatigue has washed over many of us. When your soulmate is yet to present themselves – even when you've made yourself digitally available to the world (or at least, to anyone in an 8km radius) – it's hard to feel optimistic about them being out there at all.
No matter how committed you are to the cause, the thrill of swiping left on Too Short, Ugly Shirt and Boring Bio eventually wears off. Hopeless and exhausted, to what lengths are we, the perpetually single, willing to go in search of the 'happily ever after' we crave?
Just look around you. We’ve entered a period of extreme dating, my friends, and it’s all being televised for the world’s entertainment.
Beyond the blurry parameters of so-called 'reality' TV, programmes like First Dates, Blind Date, Dinner Date and even Love Island make sense. You can follow the plot, see the appeal and find comfort in the few successful matches that are made. But then there’s the insanity of Naked Attraction, where dates are chosen based on the aesthetic of their genitals; Hot Property, where suitors are determined after rummaging through their houses; and Flirty Dancing, a delightfully painful endeavour where strangers try to fall in love over a musical theatre-style dance routine.

Some of us are so deep in the game (and so fed up of losing) that we're willing to marry a stranger without having a clue what they look like.

It’s like the Hunger Games out here, and the arena is only getting bigger. According to Netflix’s latest offering, some of us are so deep in the game (and so fed up of losing) that we’re willing to marry – yes, marry – a stranger without having a clue what they look like. Think Dating In The Dark meets Married At First Sight but with the glossy sheen of a multibillion-dollar streaming platform and much higher production values.
"It’s the opposite of what modern dating has become," says Matt, one of the singles on Love Is Blind. In this experiment, single women and single men are split between two swanky apartments (because apparently dating shows *still* don't know how to bring same-sex couples in on the fun). They meet in high-tech 'dating pods' to chat over wine, ask personal questions and hopefully fall in love before agreeing to get hitched. The catch is that there’s a weird shimmery wall between them. They're not allowed to see the person on the other side until one of them has proposed.
Photo courtesy of Netflix
The 'yes' is the real test, though, because it's only then that we'll see if the feelings accumulated over a series of blind dates hold up against the weight we put on physical appearances. You know. It's that whole 'is love really blind?' malarkey.
You won't be blamed for wild scepticism here. Though the popularity of dating apps tells us that, generally, we seem to enjoy saying yes or no to people based purely on their looks, we tend to know better. It's the treasured combination of physical attraction and compatible personalities that makes for a solid couple. It's what's on the inside that counts. Yet on this unbearably tense hunt for a lifelong companion, Love Is Blind takes the option of thinking with our visually stimulated libidos out of the equation altogether.
The participants who do eventually leave the dating pod round engaged (because not everyone is lucky in love – even on Netflix) are then sent on a whirlwind group holiday to deepen their bond as a couple before facing the harsh reality of the outside world.
It's almost too easy to dismiss the whole setup as a bit extreme. Panic washes over you while watching these wide-eyed contestants confess their deep desire to fast-track their route to the wedding march after years of upset, hardships and unsuccessful relationships. There's an urgency to their longing for a partner that'll make single viewers question why they haven't taken the relationship rat race as seriously as these people.
The persistent gamification of love is depressing and concerning on all counts. It's like we're trapped in a frantic game of snap, mismatching cards – or rather, people – in our hysteria, desperate to find a couple as quickly as possible because the only way out is as a pair.

The urgency to their longing will make single viewers question why they haven't taken the relationship rat race as seriously as these people.

It's this type of cynicism that makes the Love Is Blind participants' confessions of intense feelings after a mere couple of days spent chatting without the power of body language or facial expressions to guide them seem forced. Especially when we've been out here in the real world, swiping for our lives on Hinge, Tinder and the like. But on the other side of the screen, they insist meaningful connections are being made. "People are falling in love through a wall," Jessica, another participant, remarks in amazement. It's the sincerity of these relatively normal (though markedly attractive – this is still television, remember) people catching feelings for someone they didn't expect to fall for that makes you trust in their emotions.
The real kicker is when, on returning home as a suddenly engaged couple, things like age, class and race come into play. A black woman introduces her family to her first white partner but fears how their new love will impact her ability to vocalise her beliefs. A woman who fell for a guy 10 years her junior claimed love in the dating pods but struggles to get past the age barrier in the real world, where there's no choice but to question what her heart decided in the commotion of having to find someone before it was too late.
Looking in from the outside, the post-honeymoon stage is where the feelings that came across as brash hit sincerity. You can't help but feel sympathetic for the young couples' turmoil and, sadly, it's probably because this is the part of the series that feels most real. Putting your life on hold to enter this frenzied version of Blind Date feels very Black Mirror but reinforces the fact that lots of people feel a very real pressure to find the big L.O.V.E. and lock it down at any cost. Sometimes it works, sometimes it really doesn't. And though the glossy drama of reality TV certainly isn't for everyone, you can't ignore the wild (and yes, at times intimidatingly intense) determination it takes to stick a finger up to tradition and ride the Netflix train all the way to a potential happily ever after.
Love Is Blind is available on Netflix from 13th February

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