Last week (or maybe it was two or three weeks ago; time is inscrutable these days) I was in the midst of my pre-quarantine quarantine in the final (?) throes of walking pneumonia.
It seemed like a good idea to watch “Love is Blind” on Netflix. So I started it. And then next thing I knew, three days had passed and I had watched all of it.
Today, an investigation: What happened to me?
For those who haven’t seen it (as well as for those who have and who have chosen to forget), this is a “reality” show wherein some unknowable number of Atlanta-area singles, presumably all on the lam from the law, volunteer to enter a kind of medieval torture-chamber experiment. They live in gender-segregated housing areas which appear to consist entirely of sparsely decorated windowless common rooms full of gym equipment (fellas) and wine (ladies). On very rare occasion, semi-celebrities Nick Lachey and his wife stand on some kind of dais and narrate strange, meandering speeches about love.
Every day, the trapped singles seek to escape from this prison by dressing up and entering a hallway lined with doors, like some kind of riddle. Behind each door is a “pod,” which is to say, another (smaller) windowless room furnished with nothing but a couch and what looks like an interdimensional glowing portal. Oh, and wine. The portal is actually just some kind of plastic. But on the same wall is is a grate (?), behind which is another pod housing another one of the hopeless singles of the opposite sex. What ensues are a series of blind speed dates, and the singles get to know each other by talking through this grate without being able to see each other.
Now, at this point I think we all have several logistical questions. How long are these dates? What time of day is it? Actually, what day is it? How many dates do you have to go on every day just for a hope of escape?
Further questions ensue. You begin to wonder with some mounting alarm: what happened to all the singles? There were an estimated twenty to perhaps three hundred of them at the beginning of the show, but by halfway through the first episode we’ve homed in on only about twelve of them. The rest are, presumably, trapped in the pods to this very day, and I hope Amnesty International is investigating.
As for the twelve whose fate the show lets us see, they extremely swiftly fall in love in these pods. Vague promises of the ability to cook “Italian beef,” whatever that is, and bonding over such obscure articles as “dogs” and “sports,” soon blossoms into—
now, prepare yourself—
proposals of literal marriage.
Again, we don’t know what time of day it is in here; watching this show is a lot like being lost in a casino, and I can only imagine filming it was even more so. But from what I can tell, the couples who clicked the fastest advanced to a proposal in about one day. The ones who took a much more measured approach toward choosing a life mate waited until a much more cautious two, perhaps even three days.
This surprised me until I realized that the only way of leaving this prison was to escape together as an engaged couple. I softened with empathy toward these people who knelt by the portal and exchanged promises of eternal fidelity. And I felt their relief when, finally engaged, they were allowed to go into yet a third windowless room (lined with a red carpet and bordering some kind of enormous glassed-in terrarium) where they finally saw each other.
A moment of reflection: it is somewhat interesting to consider what it would be like to fall in love without ever having seen so much as a photograph of the other person. (Henry VIII tried it after seeing a flattering painting of Anne of Cleves, but we all know how that turned out). This experiment in love over lust is a bit of a head-scratcher, though, because all of the people on the show are at least of average conventional attractiveness. That’s Hollywood, baby.
So brave to fall in love with my hot fiance 🙂
Abandoning the hundreds or even thousands of unfortunates still trapped in the pods, the show whisks the newly engaged couples off to a beach resort, where the Lacheys present more enigmatic words on love.
By this point my brain was swiftly leaking out my ears, so the summary will be brief. Fights are had. Love is made. Many drinks are consumed. Drama mounts.
The couples, who may have thought themselves safe from the capricious whims of the tyrannical show-runners, are now required as further punishment to move into grim condos together in Atlanta. These apartments make me suspect some Netflix props interns had to furnish five brand-new places using only what they could find at an abandoned KMart. Unsurprisingly, this improves no one’s relationship.
Finally, the god Netflix, unsatisfied with the toll of human misery so far extracted, makes these people wait until the last episode to get fully trussed up in wedding gear, and invite their literal human families to a wedding where they either say “I do” or “I do not.”
Then they made them come back for a reunion show. Again, Amnesty, where are you?
And how was I doing by the end of all this? Thank you for asking. I did not feel well. I think my lifespan was shortened by at least a week or two. I had gained more questions than answers about the thriving economy of “content creators” and “general managers” cast on the show. And I had done my part to add grist to the mill of this frightful scheme: I have become a data point encouraging Netflix to kidnap yet another batch of souls and imprison them in pods for my amusement.
Stay tuned for my live updates on Season 2.