‘Love Is Blind’ Producers Have a Lot to Learn From Successful Dating Shows

Netflix’s first foray into the world of reality television dating may not have gone as well as hoped. While some fans believe that the show could be better than The Bachelor, most of them are calling for a change in hosts, setting, and many other things. Chris Coelen, CEO of Kinetic Content, was the producer that made Love is Blind happen, and he is well versed in the worlds of love and reality TV. His previous credits include Married at First Sight (Lifetime), Wife Swap (ABC), and The Spouse House (TLC), to name a few along the same lines as Love is Blind. Coelen is known for cutting edge ideas and shocking social experiments in his shows. In his first collaboration with Netflix, it appears that even someone with successful shows on their resume can stand to learn something new. 

Love is Blind contestants throwing fake money
Rory Newbrough, Andy Rickert, Danielle Drouin, Diamond Jack, India Bridgeforth, Lexie Skipper, and Westley Baer | Paras Griffin/Getty Images

Pod dating was awkward, and not just because of the dates

The facility where Love is Blind took place had a home area and an area for “pods” where the dates took place. The premise of the show was that the contestants would get to know each other without ever seeing each other. After 10 days, they choose who they will marry and get to see each other for the first time after their proposals. Then, within 38 days of the contestants’ arrival at the facility, they plan a wedding and get married. 

There was a lot of tension in the dates and that was likely to be expected. What made it worse for fans though, was the harsh lighting, old-style claw-footed couches, out of date upholstery, and ratty blankets. Fans talked about the dark mirrored walls and how the lighting did not show the contestants at their best. Their dates may not have been able to see them but the viewers online could! 

Choice in the face of blind love

Coelen spoke to Oprah magazine about the way the show worked. One of the main concepts he and the other producers wanted to ensure was that the contestants got to choose who they dated in the pods. He said to Oprah, “They got to pick the people they wanted to keep talking to, and vice versa. Assuming that person wanted to spend more time with them, we’d make sure they got to meet in the pods,” Coelen said. Basically, if both people ‘swiped right,’ producers would “match” them. This first phase was where the producers had more control. 

Less producer involvement and contestants gone wild

While this method might make for some great unstaged drama, it made the scenes that were staged much more obvious … and the fans noticed. During the pod dating phase, the producers had more control and hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey introduced things well. In the second phase, the engaged couples took a vacation to a resort in Mexico. They spent time together as couples and mingled all together in a group. At this point, the Lacheys’ appearances became sporadic. 

At the resort, Diamond and Carlton break up almost immediately when he reveals that he dated men in some previous relationships. Jessica and Mark didn’t click physically right away and Jessica expressed that she wasn’t done with Barnett, who was engaged to Amber. The contestants were left to do things however they wanted. 

Inconsistencies that stretched to the last episode

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Rumors abound that Kelly and Kenny decided early on that they weren’t going to get married in the last episode. Their fairytale seemed too good to be true to the fans. Damian and Gianina were explosive as soon as they got to the “real world integration” portion of the show in the last stage before the weddings. The weddings themselves had a lot of inconsistencies and fan theories suggest it was obvious who would go through with it and who wouldn’t. 

Damian and Gianina’s wedding had an inconsistency that became famous. Gianina ran out on her wedding when Damian said “I don’t” and she fell in the mud, marring the back of her white dress. In a later scene, she asks Damian to sit and talk with her, forcibly putting a chair down and pacing before she sat down in front of him.

The structure of the show is flimsy, at best

The Bachelor has millions of fans, several spinoffs, and a female-led hit show (The Bachelorette) running alongside it. The structure of this show is tried and true. It’s the same every season and the fans can depend on that. 25 women compete to win the heart of one man. There are challenges and levels, but we all know that at the end of each level, a few contestants will get roses and the rest will be going home. 

In Love is Blind, viewers don’t see that same structure. Producers weeded out contestants during the pod dating round as they saw fit. They watched the connections that happened and then they decided who would continue and who would go home. The viewers never see that part. At the resort, the couples are supposed to be engaged to be married but the fights and drama make the couples seem like they’re still in the dating phase and not ready to get married in a few weeks. Their dates and excursions were planned on the fly according to the whims of the contestants. 

Season 2 is in the works

The criticism from fans has not stopped Netflix from booking Love is Blind for a second season. This one will take place in Chicago and aims to include a more diverse pool of contestants in terms of age and body type. It doesn’t appear that the show will change its structure at all, though. Will the producers incorporate more structure in season 2 or let the contestants continue to run wild? We’ll have to wait and see!