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'Love Is Blind' upends the dating show. Its creator explains its wildest choices

Yvonne Villarreal, Los Angeles Times on

Published in Entertainment News

Ever been on a date and thought: I'd have more fun talking to a wall?

Netflix's new matchmaking reality show "Love Is Blind" brings that scenario to life -- but with different intentions.

The series begins with 15 single men and 15 single women splitting off into pairs and getting to know each other, one on one, sight unseen: Each is in a "pod" separated by a wall. Think Catholic confessional meets Tinder.

Roughly 10 days later, after much gabbing, those who share a strong connection get engaged and meet for the first time before jetting off for a honeymoon-esque stay in Mexico. If the connection is still thriving -- this being reality TV, it won't be drama-free -- the couples then venture back into the real world, where they live together for four weeks, meeting family, friends and pets. If, after all of that, the spark remains, the couples exchange vows and join the ranks of other made-for-television love stories.

The 10-episode series is being released as a three-week event. The first five episodes were released on Feb. 13; the next four episodes were released Friday. The finale will air on Feb. 27.

The Times talked with creator and executive producer Chris Coelen about the show that has viewers confused, curious and totally committed.

 

WHERE DID THE IDEA FOR THE PODS COME FROM?

Coelen is no stranger to the relationships-made-on-TV world. As the head of LA-based Kinetic Content, he's behind Lifetime's "Married at First Sight," which features total strangers tying the knot. The idea for "Love Is Blind," Coelen says, was to explore the universal desire to be loved for who one is on the inside. The "experiment" was to see how to make an emotional connection the starting point of a relationship in today's age of physically-focused dating apps and curated social media personas -- and whether that can overcome all else.

"There have been many scientific studies that talk about the key to long-term relationship success being emotional connection and not physical attraction," Coelen said. "If you could start relationships with pure love, how would we set about doing that? And if you could start with pure love, is that love enough to survive in what is a really polarized world, a really judgmental world and a really detached world?

"When you think about all of the devices that are supposed to connect us, they have ended up disengaging us from other people. People who are looking for love with devices and dating apps oftentimes feel like they're disposable, that people are judging them based on a first impression. Like, it's their surface-level experience. And so thinking about, 'How do we do the opposite? How do we make it a deep experience? How do we start with love?' And that's where the idea of talking, just talking without any distractions, came from, and in an environment that's very intimate and comfortable, which are the pods."

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