Netflix UK TV review: Love Is Blind
Ivan Radford | On 25, Mar 2020
Is love truly blind? That’s the question Netflix’s new dating series claims to ask, as it pairs up 30 contestants and gets them to talk without seeing each other – and then gets them to propose for good measure.
Playing out like a more extravagant version of Married at First Sight, it puts its groups of men and women into private, individual pods, where they can chat to each other through an opaque dividing wall – with all of them naturally stripped of their phones to avoid them being in contact with anyone on the outside.
What ensues is a genuinely fascinating string of social encounters, from the men who seem to have no loyalty or decision-making capabilities to the women putting on a particular voice depending on who’s they’re talking to. One manchild, Barnett, is a particularly playful contestant, and you find yourself rooting against, or sometimes for, the pairings that do emerge – and shouting at the screen every time someone falls for his immature charms.
The show cruelly then brings them all together – after they’ve proposed and seen each other for the first time – to live in the same home, which results in such typically horrific behaviour as Jessica seemingly willing to throw away her own relationship with Mark to buy Barnett’s affection. Like the best reality TV shows, the result is a programme that doesn’t impress at first, but does quietly get its hooks into you, especially with the knowledge some of these people will actually tie the knot in real life.
Before that, though, there’s the meet-the-parents episode, and Love Is Blind manages to avoid the feeling of staged sequences with some genuine shock registered by mothers and grandparents whey they learn what their child has been doing for several months.
The result rushes each partnership through a series of quick showdowns, and the voyeuristic fun of seeing who won’t stand the grilling is hard to resist – not least because some of these relationships are wobbly to begin with, before issues such as work routines and belongings come into play. That’s all balanced with some unexpectedly heartfelt conversations, with Carlton, in particular, spilling the beans about his internal conflicts to his partner – a secret that brings a welcome complexity to what would otherwise be a very conventional series.
The only downside is that all of the couples are implausibly good-looking, which means that there’s never any tension when it comes to each pair’s first reveal; there are no ordinary people here, just people who have spent time toning their bodies and hours in the Netflix make-up trailer to put on their best face for the camera. It’s a disappointing reminder of the worst traits of the reality TV genre – why yes, there are some participants who were edited out of the show altogether – but it’s testament to the show’s format that you’ll keep hitting “Next Episode” until you reach the enjoyably catty reunion special anyway. Does the show answer the question of whether love is blind? Not really. Will you binge the whole lot regardless? Absolutely.
Love Is Blind is available on Netflix UK, as part of an £9.99 monthly subscription.