I was raised on the golden age of television, when the highlight of the weekend was the early evening schedule of Baywatch, Dr Quinn: Medicine Woman, Superman: Lois & Clarke and, the jewel in the crown, Blind Date. Hosted by the late, great Cilla Black, Blind Date was high camp viewing, saucy and silly and generally iconic, and nothing has come close to the dating show since – until now.
Love is Blind began on Netflix right at the beginning of the Covid pandemic, which proved the perfect launch pad for the weirdest show on TV – who wasn’t vetting prospective spouses from the comfort of their crumb-strewn, chocolate stained sofas? But what made it endure after most of us returned to the real world of meeting people in person?
Like watching Home of the Year, it’s not that I’m interested or invested on a relatable basis; regarding the former I am still currently a renter with only barely a glimmer of house-buying prospects and certainly not in possession of a fortune with which to buy laminate under-heated flooring and cabinet-less kitchens any time soon, yet still I enjoy poring over the three homes week after week, along with the uncharismatic yet reliably scathing and/or fawning judges.
In relation to Love is Blind, I am not a young American with an ambiguous job title looking either for love or for my fifteen minutes of fame, but somehow I cannot help but return, mesmerised, season upon season to witness love bloom across the divide. Why though? Why this and not, say The Bachelor or Love Island or the one where they are on a beach and are forbidden from sex?
I’ve mulled it over, and I’m pretty sure it’s because it’s so funny. The fact that they dress up to talk to each other through a wall. The stakes are so ridiculously high. The golden glasses. The overabundance of serenading. The unexpected twists and turns. Guys, there was a wine drinking dog in Season One.
Season Two brought us Shake, who everyone loved to hate because he wouldn’t stop going on about how unattractive he found his (objectively gorgeous) fiance. It also featured Shayne, the hyper man-child who treated everything like fun and games until some guy he considered unathletic (read: beneath him) beat him at baseball.
Season Three was arguably the best, against all odds. The couples were almost exclusively spectacularly mismatched, but none more so than Cole and Zanab. Theirs was a pairing that sparked all sorts of debate online, from the definition of gaslighting, to the very real reluctance to side with the person who was in the right (it was clearly, inarguably Cole!), even though your very instincts told you he a proper “Bro” couldn’t possibly be in any sort of sane world.
There are so many more stories to unpack and memorable moments to savour, too many to address here. But when it comes down to it, as well as some genuinely touching moments (Cameron and Lauren 4 Eva) and unexpectedly frank conversations (Nancy’s articulate opinions on abortion), Love is Blind is hilarious, and its producers know it.
It’s tongue-in-cheek, it’s absurd, it’s got so much shit-stirring going on behind the scenes – it’s perfect TV. Season 4 started last Friday (March 24) and it is already setting itself apart from the previous three; this year there is more of a focus on the interaction of the contestants in their Girls and Boys living quarters, with mean-girl ganging-up not seen since the best of Big Brother.
It’s brilliant for bonding – one of my current favourite hobbies is poring over Twitter after I’ve completed the episodes to laugh at the memes and hot takes, and to discuss the finer points with friends over Instagram stories. If you are in need of a slice of guilt-free escapism, you need to get on this right now. Golden goblets filled with cheap prosecco encouraged, but not essential.