By this point, we’re well-acquainted with the controversial hypothesis of Love is Blind: is it possible to fall deeply in love with a total stranger and decide to spend the rest of your life with them without even seeing their face? Unfortunately, the utterly abysmal track record of the Netflix show would suggest that this particular method of dating doesn’t really work. In the three previous seasons of Love is Blind, only four couples have stayed together, and of the success stories, only one of them involved a Black woman. (We love you, Lauren and Cam!) Most reality dating shows are a hellscape, especially for Black women darker than a paper bag, but Love is Blind somehow proved to be one of the worst in the entire messed up landscape, casting some of the most unserious, most toxic individuals they could find. It wasn’t about love or kismet; it was about wasting each other’s time. Season after season, we watched as immature singles attempt to convince the audience and themselves that they were ready to settle down when it was obvious that all they really wanted was an adventure and their 15 minutes of game. (Have you noticed how many of these people are now full-time influencers? Very interesting.)
Given the stress of watching Love is Blind in the past, I was this close to swearing it off forever like I did The Bachelor and Love Island. It wasn’t fun anymore — it was just frustrating. TV should not be frustrating! As if the good people at Netflix could sense the audience’s growing wariness, they got right to work on a new season of the show, heading to Seattle for a new slate of shenanigans. And they knew exactly how to reel me in, giving fans a glimpse of their new cast that included a record number of Black men and women. I’m fully aware that getting Black people in the room is just one small step — how many times have we seen Black people be included but not really included? — but I was intrigued nonetheless. Maybe Netflix was reading our tweets after all.
As it turns out, we'd been hoodwinked, bamboozled, led astray, run amok and flat out deceived. There are a lot of Black people on Love is Blind season 4, but only a few were given real airtime and were able to make it outside of the pods. More than usual, to be fair, but still. We were promised Black love!
Despite only a few episodes of the new season having been released, I think it’s safe to say that Love is Blind 4 is a far better, more compelling season than the previous iterations. The dating dynamic is really interesting this time around, made up of a cast with unique stories that, for the most part, we actually want to root for. There’s Brett and Tiffany, the grown and sexy couple that would definitely have hit it off if they met in the real world. We’ve also got Marshall and Jackelina, a fun-loving duo trying to keep things positive while simultaneously working through some major emotional baggage. And…well, that’s it. The rest of the couplings aren’t great; no one else seems to have paired up with the right person. Bad decision-making is a basic requirement to appear on Love is Blind — why are you proposing to someone you’ve never seen before?? — and season 4’s cast is the perfect example of it. The first slate of episodes are already hinting at disaster on the road to the altar. If they even make it to that point.
This might be the most chaotic season of Love is Blind thus far — and that’s saying a lot after the catastrophe that was Raven and SK from season 3 or Jarrette and Iyana from season 2 — but it somehow also feels like the most honest. The struggles that these singles are facing in the pods and in the real world are realistic: low self-esteem, family trauma, toxic attachment styles, people-pleasing. More than any other season of this show, I found myself empathizing with the cast from my comfy spot on my couch. Sure, they’d obviously signed up for the show knowing that it’s the first step in the lucrative influencer pipeline, but many of these people are genuinely looking for something real.
In its current form, Love is Blind probably isn’t the place to find that.
I’ll always argue that dating shows like Love is Blind would benefit from focusing less on engagement and marriage being the end goal and more on actually helping contestants rework their toxic ideas of what love should look like while making new romantic connections. Normal dating in the real world is hard enough, but Love is Blind makes it significantly more challenging and gives it higher stakes, despite the show’s claims that it’s streamlining the process by taking the superficiality out of it. As much as Nick and Vanessa Lachey want us to believe that this experiment is about making true connections, what actually happens is the opposite. In the pods, contestants who may mean well understand that first and foremost, this is a competition, and the singular goal for many of them is to walk out of there with a fiancé no matter what. To win, they have to use active emotional warfare to get over their opponents: love bombing, manipulation, lies, gossip, and much more. It’s nasty work through and through, and it brings out the worst in people. But the game is the game.
What would make Love is Blind a more effective experience is a real strategy besides “ready, set, date!” The contestants knew that their typical approaches to finding love hadn’t worked for them in the past, so they signed up for Love is Blind — just to continue dating in the same problematic, unproductive way. The only difference is that they sped up the timeline, zooming past the usual dating benchmarks all the way to “I do.” If you’re doing something as extreme as proposing to a stranger without even seeing their face first, you have to be equipped with the right tools in order to make sure that you’re prepared to handle life outside of the pods. What this show needs is some objective perspective and guidance to actually provide participants with a new lease on love and healthy relationships. Licensed therapists, mental health and relationship workshops á la Too Hot to Handle, even a day off from rapid fire dating to just sit with their feelings — any of those tweaks would make this process more thoughtful and would likely result in a higher success rate for its cast. (Success, in the context of this show, might mean that some of the couples decide not to immediately get engaged but intentionally date more traditionally. Or even end the relationship entirely.) Without those resources in place, what Love is Blind contestants walk away with instead is the double trauma of their relationship failing and that romantic breakdown happening for all the world to see and comment on.
The fact that Love is Blind has produced any serious couples is a true miracle given the nature of its setup, which unfortunately doesn’t create the most fruitful ground for fostering healthy romance. Because Netflix releases new episodes of Love is Blind weekly, we don’t yet know who will exchange vows at the end of this season, but from the first few episodes, it’s not looking too great for our couples. Don’t get me wrong: the drama makes for excellent TV and hilarious tweets and TikToks. Still, after four seasons of failed relationships and broken hearts, it might be high time for an intervention if we want any of these couples to make it beyond the pods.
Season 4 of Love is Blind is now streaming, only on Netflix.