Love may or may not be blind, but it is definitely messy. Netflix’s hit reality TV show Love Is Blind just wrapped its fourth season and has since stirred up even more drama, after its live reunion snafu left fans waiting for over an hour.
The show is a social experiment where singles in respective cities date and get engaged sight unseen. Over several episodes, the couples decide to get married—or don’t, answering the show’s ultimate question: Is love really blind? The series has been widely successful for Netflix, expanding to spin-offs in other countries like Brazil and Japan. Casting for additional seasons in Washington D.C., Denver, and Minneapolis began before the fourth season, based in Seattle, finished airing.
The latest season, which started March 24 and wrapped April 16, produced three married couples—Zack Goytowski and Bliss Poureetezadi Goytowski; Kwame Appiah and Chelsea Griffin; and Brett Brown and Tiffany Pennywell. Past seasons have ended with multiple married couples, seen explosive breakups, and had endorsements from celebrities like Kim Kardashian.
But in the wake of season 4, things have turned a corner for the dating show. It’s not just the failed attempt at a live reunion, which prompted plenty of criticism. Viewers are also calling out Love Is Blind’s co-hosts for their alleged insensitivity in making certain comments. And former contestants are opening up about concerns regarding ethics and their mental health.
An embarrassing not-so-live reunion
Netflix is known in large part for their binge worthy content, but over the past few seasons of Love Is Blind, the streamer has experimented with the format, releasing episodes in weekly batches, rather than all at once. With season 4, Netflix decided to take it a step further, hosting their reunion special as a live event, rather than going the usual route of pre-taping and then releasing the episode.
According to Netflix executives, over 6 million viewers eagerly awaited for the show to start at 8pm ET as promised, but it would be over an hour of waiting before the program appeared on their screens.
While waiting, fans were quite active on social media, reacting to one another’s memes and Netflix’s fumble. “Y’all better go back to shipping out DVDs. That was more your speed,” one wrote, in reference to the streaming company’s origins as a DVD-by-mail service. Even Congressional Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez got in it, too, tweeting, “Someone call Lucia the seamstress to fix this. I believe in her.”
The program didn’t begin until 9:15 p.m. ET. For those who could not access the show on Sunday, Netflix posted the episode midday Monday. Netflix released a statement on Twitter writing, “To everyone who stayed up late, woke up early, gave up their Sunday afternoon… we are incredibly sorry that the Love is Blind Live Reunion did not turn out as we had planned.”
Backlash to a baby-crazy line of questioning
The delay wasn’t the only thing fans were upset about. Since the first season of Love Is Blind in 2020, married couple Nick and Vanessa Lachey have hosted the show, going on to helm other Netflix dating shows like The Ultimatum, a new season of which will come out on May 24.
Viewers are calling out the Lachey’s conduct at the season 4 reunion, pointing in particular to Vanessa’s constant barrage of questions to the married contestants on when they are planning to have children. She asked questions like, “Who is going to give me our first Love Is Blind baby?” and “What are you all thinking on the baby timeline?” and made comments such as, “I hope you’re all trying.” In response to a segment showing former contestant Bartise Bowden holding his newborn, she said, “OK, seriously, if that doesn’t make your ovaries burn.”
On social media, viewers criticized Vanessa’s lack of sensitivity in presuming the couples want or are able to have children. Brown responded to her questioning during the reunion, saying, “Jesus, y’all really put the baby pressure.”
Vanessa also doubled down several times when asking contestant Paul Peden why he didn’t think his partner on the show Micah Lussier was “nurturing” or could “envision her as a mother,” seemingly displeased with any explanation he offered.
Following the reunion taping, Peden told People, “I thought that I detected a little bit of personal bias there. And I guess she[Vanessa]’s within her right to drill on personal bias, but she shouldn’t present as being an objective neutral party if that’s the case.” (Vanessa later apologized to Peden, according to an Instagram Story he shared showing she had sent him flowers.)
Many fans are calling for the pair to be replaced as hosts. One has gone as far to make a petition with the ask, garnering over 20,000 signatures.
Broader concerns about ethics and mental health
In a recent report from Business Insider, several contestants from previous seasons alleged that filming the show was a traumatic experience that included high levels of exhaustion, insufficient meals, lack of sunlight and panic attacks they say producers took advantage of so they could film. Season 2 contestant Danielle Ruhl says producers pressured her to stay on the show, despite her vocalizing suicidal thoughts.
The Business Insider report was published a few days after a piece in the the New York Times in which top producers of the show said the social experiment involves background checks, psychological evaluations, and compatibility matchmaking. Production’s edit portrays an “accurate essence of each person’s journey,” show creator Chris Coelen told the Times.
In response to the allegations raised by past contestants, Kinetic Content, which produces the Netflix series told Variety in a statement, “The wellbeing of our participants is of paramount importance to Kinetic. We have rigorous protocols in place to care for each person before, during, and after filming.”
Contestants also discussed the experience of facing high levels of online hate and threats when coming off the show. Season 4 contestant Jackelina “Jackie” Bonds says she did not attend the in-person reunion because she was receiving constant death threats.
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