I watched “Love is Blind” with my eyes closed, and I can’t say I was surprised.
After days of hearing all about Netflix’s new hot dating show, I decided to see what the hype was about, and given the unique circumstances presented in the program experiment, I decided to play along. If the dating was going to be blind, I would be blind too. But it turns out, love really probably isn’t all that blind. There’s a lot one can still gather from the sound of another’s voice.
For those unfamiliar, the rules are simple. Participants had about ten days in “pods” to shop around for a fiance before they must decide whether to get married in a matter of just a few short weeks following a brief getaway to Mexico together. But here’s the catch: singles were barred from actually seeing each other until a marriage proposal was accepted in the pod.
With nothing to go off in the way of their appearance except for their voice, which, as I discovered, you can still tell a lot from, it presented a daunting experiment to those participating. Is love really blind? Can couples really disconnect emotional compatibility with physical attraction? Do we really have dating reversed in the real world? Intriguing questions to be sure, but they were presented in a limited experiment at best.
For one, the cast of characters turned out to be pretty predictable. I only kept my eyes shut for the first episode, and by the time episode two rolled around, Cameron and Lauren had already gotten engaged. Both quirky, cute, geeky and charming, it came as little surprise. These traits and mannerisms could be picked up on just by the sounds and inflection in each of their voices, and Lauren had given away that she was black by telling off another guy who speculated about her race.
The other couples in the season were even more predictable, particularly Barnett who was found stuck between Amber and Jessica. Sure it’s judgmental and assuming, but it’s human, and all three sounded just as attractive as they looked, and the participants could probably pick up on the other’s level of attractiveness through the pod. It was no surprise either that Mark, a fitness instructor, was hitting things off with Jessica too, whose high-pitched feminine voice painted a relatively accurate picture as one of the show’s prettiest people.
In the end, the couples to end up engaged in Mexico had found their partner evenly matched in their level of attractiveness despite not even seeing each other before they got engaged. Subconsciously, I suspect deep down that they all saw what I did in the blindness of the pods, imagining the figure behind the wall through the context presented by the sounds of their voice and any other clues in their background, i.e., fitness expert. After all, it’s human nature.
The biggest surprise to come when opening my eyes for the rest of the series was how well the singles so often dressed as if they were preparing for a magazine photoshoot. These people were talking to a wall and drinking copious amounts of alcohol, so why dress up? They were on TV to be fair, but there was plenty of time to play dress up in the more momentous occasions on the show such as the second proposals where their looks were revealed and their trips to Mexico.
The experiment seemed to work, for some couples. Of course that’s something to celebrate, and I wish them all the best. But the experiment remained limited in scope as the couples no doubt were able to sense identifiable physical characteristics through the sound of the other’s voice.
So is love blind? Probably not.