Personality over physicality: ‘Love is Blind’ tries and fails to prove a point
Along with the rest of Twitter, I am absolutely on board with the new “Love is Blind” craze.
The fast-paced Netflix reality show places young Atlanta singles—15 men and 15 women—into anonymous “pods” so they can essentially speed date through a wall. Within days, the couples get to know one another, say their first “I love you” and become engaged. After their engagement, each couple unites and sees each other in person for the first time. Weeks later, after a sort of honeymoon, they stand at the altar to become officially married.
The entire show is delivered via 10 hour-long episodes. It’s easy and fun to watch, especially with friends. As a long-time “The Bachelor” viewer, I zoomed through this series and found it even more dramatic and enjoyable than “The Bachelor.”
The show has, however, drawn criticism. First, its cast is not particularly diverse. Additionally, every contestant is relatively thin and conventionally attractive.
However, one of the fatal flaws of “Love is Blind” has drawn much less attention. It is branded as a “social experiment”—a catchy and popular term that is rampant on YouTube pranks and TikTok challenges. This show is by no means a social experiment, which by definition would have both a control and experimental condition with one independent variable. The methodology and experimentation would be run by sociologists, anthropologists or psychologists; that isn’t the case here.
That being said, the hypothesis the show frequently references is this: Can you fall in love without seeing a person or basing your love on any physical characteristics? The show makes the claim that if you cannot see a person, you do not know fundamental characteristics such as their ethnicity, race, physical characteristics, height and so forth. All you have to go on is personality.
When one couple enters the pods for their initial blind speed date, a white man hears a black woman’s voice and loudly and rudely guesses her race in a moment that makes the woman uncomfortable.
While watching the show, a friend of mine pointed out that most of the experiences a person has are imbued by such factors as race and ethnicity. Many of a person’s internal interests, hobbies, likes, dislikes, sore spots and more are shaped by their unique identities and experiences in the world. In order to be authentic, love shouldn’t be blind to these factors. It should be sensitive, aware and eager to learn.
The show begins to grapple with these challenges later on into the series. One stand-out couple—Lauren and Cameron—garnered massive support on Twitter. After their proposal, the interracial couple face skepticism and backlash from Lauren’s family. Their relationship is healthy, strong and accepting, though their success as a couple doesn’t necessarily prove that love is blind, as the show implies. Rather, it shows the importance of sensitivity to your partner’s background.
So while the show makes for a fun watch, one that is perhaps less shallow than “The Bachelor,” it leaves much to be desired in its aim to its titular investigation. That question remains unanswered—and arguably unimportant.