Now Streaming: “Love Is Blind” attempts new twist on old formula

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Nick Lachey of 98 Degrees fame, and his wife, Vanessa, are the hosts of Netflix’s “Love Is Blind.” Not that the pair show up very much. Their absentee hosting is not the least of the series’ problems. “Love Is Blind” moves contestants through the dating to marriage process very quickly – – it makes “90 Day Fiance” look like a drawn out courtship. They talk in ten days, unseen, then they date for one month, at the end of which they are to get married. And, as the title probably gives away, the participants do not see each other during the dating phase. They are to fall in love, “date,” and propose (or be proposed to), without having seen the other person first.

Cringe-worthy aspects of “Love Is Blind”

Maybe the American viewing audience is cynical at this point. Dating shows are not new, and for at least some audiences, the idea of them is over, and the result is never satisfying.

One of the most cringe-worthy aspect of the show is its premise: In less than a month, contestants are expected to marry. Just having made the connection is not enough; the potential lovers must be committed to another contestant for life. All of this happens before they see each other.

The visual aspect is another part of the show that even the contestants struggle with. The contestants live in quarters separated by gender. They meet with their potential love matches in pods, and talk to a wall, the thing that keeps them from seeing the person that they have in some cases, laughed, cried and commiserated with.

But, despite the focus on going beyond looks, a couple of the guys started right in with questions about one of the women’s looks, and attempted to guess her race. Cringe-worthy hardly covers the resulting feeling.

Some viewers will appreciate the expression of feelings as the contestants begin to know each other. Viewers will also watch as those initial feelings give way to annoyance. The participants begin to use curse words, they tell certain people they never want to talk them again, they hang onto the words that the other has spoken (they have notebooks in which to write names and anything else they’d like about their “dates”) and use them against that person if the relationship, such as it is, does not proceed like they wanted.

Probably the worst part of the show is watching people who just expressed deep, tender feelings to each other, suddenly turn on each other.

The words only get more harsh after the contestants meet and begin dating and getting to know their families. At least initially, the couples are pleased (relieved) with each other’s appearance. But they find out that it takes more than looks to build a successful relationship.

Nick Lachey and “Love Is Blind”

Depending on a person’s perspective, Lachey is known as much for his work in 98 Degrees as he is for his stints on reality television. When he was married to singer Jessica Simpson, the two were the stars of a reality show, “Newlyweds:Nick and Jessica.”

Now with his wife Vanessa, Lachey appears at the beginning of each new segment (not episode) to tell viewers what is in store for contestants.

The two attempt to add mystery to the whole idea of contestants meeting all the other couples and taking their relationships to the next level on a tropical island. While the views of the island are pretty, it is not difficult to predict what will happen because promos have already shown tempers flaring in the beautiful setting. Thus, it does not help couples to get physical, if they are not compatible.

What the minds behind “Love Is Blind” fail to realize is that love can be blind even when people see each other. Artificial barriers between people cannot force them to look deeper, be their best selves and find love, or be lovable. But for some viewers, the appeal of this show will be watching the new couples find out the hard way.

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Dodie Miller-Gould is a native of Fort Wayne, Indiana who lives in New York City where she studies creative nonfiction at Columbia University. She has BA and MA degrees in English from Indiana University-Purdue University, Fort Wayne, and an MFA in Fiction from Minnesota State University, Mankato. Her research interests include popular music and culture, 1920s jazz, and blues, confessional poetry, and the rhetoric of fiction. She has presented at numerous conferences in rhetoric and composition, and creative writing. Her creative works have appeared in Tenth Muse, Apostrophe, The Flying Island, Scavenger's Newsletter and elsewhere. She has won university-based awards for creative work and literary criticism.

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