Welcome to the first edition of Drag Me to Streaming Hell, where we’ll be exploring the darkest and most depraved corners of the digital video abyss. There’s more original programming than ever out there—most of it pretty bad!—and time enough at last to stream it all. So roll up your sleeves, snap on your nitrile gloves, and join us as we dig through the muck. First up: Netflix’s dystopian dating show Love Is Blind.
The Pitch: What if MTV’s The Real World was also The Bachelor and also the 1997 Canadian horror film Cube? Okay, now take that, and cut the timespan between meeting each other and getting married down to four weeks. No peeking between partners, though. That’s forbidden.
The Plot: Love Is Blind is yet another wacky variation on the reality romance show where singles seduce each other on national television for our entertainment. The twist here is a sort of expedited “dating” process that sees participants in the so-described “experiment” conversing with each for hours each day—all from within the confines of “pods” where they can hear potential matches but can’t see them. This continues until someone decides to propose.
Paired couples—who are only able to see each other after committing to an engagement—must then embark on a romantic honeymoon trip to Mexico, be introduced to each other’s families, and, ultimately, lure their primary network of loved ones to a wedding ceremony where there is zero certainty that either person will actually commit to being with the other. This arguably makes the entire show a waste of time for everyone involved, including you, the viewer.
The Verdict: The New Yorker best and most accurately described Love Is Blind as “offensive to human dignity.” Sadly, the contestants themselves have little dignity left to lose by the time the reunion special rolls around. Having watched every painful episode (and the aforementioned 52-minute reunion special), I truly believe that this show wouldn’t exist if not for Netflix’s desperate need for something, anything to offer subscribers while TBS All Access or whatever scoops up the syndicated sitcoms viewers actually want.
Sure, The Bachelor has aired for 24 seasons and networks have been pumping out grotesque reality TV concepts for decades. But Love Is Blind’s sick voyeurism makes it closer to Flinch (another deeply fucked up Netflix exclusive) than, say, Lifetime’s Married at First Sight. While the “experiment” is uncomfortable to watch, I must admit that it makes for compelling television. In part, that’s because every development seems devised to undermine the show’s ostensible goal—demonstrating that love is blind (as long as you’re both objectively beautiful)—by placing couples in subtly humiliating situations.
The horny (or not!) trip to Mexico, the shared shoebox apartments, the group bachelor and bachelorette parties, the involvement of friends and family who’d so clearly rather not be any part of this mess: all of it feels like an invitation to leer at embarrassment and regret rather than see any two people actually wind up happy. But hey, that’s entertainment, baby!
Only on Streaming: Is it, you ask, hosted by a member of ‘90s boy band 98 Degrees? Sure is. What about bizarre social dynamics between people who all essentially dated? Check. Painful, awkward confessions from participants who repeatedly say they feel the show has “changed” them forever? Yes. Will viewers hear the term “experiment” so many times they begin to question their own reality? Oh buddy, absolutely. Okay, but will Love Is Blind streamers see a dog drink wine? I’m sorry, but yes.
Series Length: Love Is Blind is 10 episodes long with one chaser “reunion” special.
How Long It Should’ve Been: Exactly two episodes, one where the hare-brained scheme is introduced and a five years later reunion episode where the contestants tell us what they were going through at a personal level to agree to this. That’s arguably two too many, but enough to paint you a picture.