Claire Franken

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With Season 4, Love Is Blind has finally made the inevitable transition from reality dating show to reality-like show filled with people-like things.

The Netflix series (which is currently dropping new episodes on Fridays) has solidified its predictable formula comprised of trauma dumping, “energy” compatibility and musical performances by tone-deaf men. The intention for contestants is still to find love, but no longer with the person in the opposite pod. They’re looking for love, affirmation and adoration from us, the audience, by playing pretend and replicating behaviors from former seasons as if the show is a sport that can be mastered. (Andrew’s artificial tears from Season 3 should have been a clue that the show is tainted by its own popularity.)

It wasn’t always so. In Season 1, we watched Lauren and Cameron fall in love through a series of equal exchanges inside the pods. Cameron talked, Lauren listened and responded. Lauren talked, Cameron listened and responded. They talked about details as frivolous as what they would cook for dinner to as practical as their expectations in a partner. Their conversations were easy and noticeably drenched in chemistry.

In this season’s game of make-believe, however, love is a collateral byproduct, something that might be happened upon while two fame-seeking narcissists manufacture a TV kind of love in terms so nonspecific you’ve probably already forgotten their first names. No one reveals themselves through the osmosis of time, like Lauren and Cameron, opting instead for false affirmations and abrupt confessions in hopes of mimicking that Season 1 success story. Or, in hopes of skipping ahead to the best parts of a relationship. Or, better yet, in hopes of concocting a character that can sustain enough episodes to warrant a podcast launch in the coming months.

By Episode 6, Micah says, “I don’t think there’s much that could break us at this point,” and Paul tells Micah their relationship “feels so right.” (Read the full recap.) Micah says Paul makes her “so happy” and she feels “so confident.” Their hollow admiration doesn’t stem from love at all, but rather a partnership in the Love Is Blind game, an alliance that protects Paul from Irina’s advances and ensures Micah’s character looks saintly despite her not-so-secret yearning for Kwame.

Love Is Blind Season 4, Zack And let’s rewind to take a look at Irina and Zack. If your blind date randomly breaks out into a cringey love song with horrible lyrics, your reaction would likely be, “Wow…..” not, “Wow!” But what did Irina do? Hopped on a plane with said serenader (despite calling him creepy for not blinking often enough) to enjoy a Mexican vacation with her sidekick, Micah. Why not skip the trip? It was too late. She had already dedicated herself to becoming the resident pot-stirrer since her shot at likability was trashed. (Because villains get podcasts, too!)

That relationship, though, was doomed when Zack shared the details of his difficult childhood in an attempt to imitate other dating show plotlines and fabricate an on-screen connection. All people-like contestants on reality-like shows, ranging from The Bachelor to Married at First Sight, replace flirtatious exchanges with trauma revelations in order to manipulate audiences into rooting for them, rather than to create actual connections with fellow cast members.

Trauma, however, is not a personality trait. People do not fall in love because of it, especially not before knowing the particulars about a person. (You might feel tempted to compare Zack’s revelations to Cameron sharing his mom’s Parkinson’s diagnosis with Lauren early on, but that topic came up naturally when she asked when he last cried. Zack, on the contrary, led with his trauma even when it didn’t make sense.)
Love Is Blind Season 4
Other couples spiral into deceit simply by playing pretend in an effort to morph into the Love Is Blind power couple they wish they were, rather than the couple they actually are. This is the case for Tiffany and Brett. The foundation of their relationship? A pair of matching teal shirts. Because, in pursuit of a positive TV performance, a couple will cling to whatever similarities they share, even if it’s as flimsy as a Fruit of the Loom tee. Based on nothing at all, Tiffany and Brett are “perfect” for each other.

Love may or may not be blind, but Love Is Blind is far too culturally visible, causing contestants to transform into pretend people just to please. The drama might still be fierce, but the stakes are at an all-time low as cast members opt for empty, human-like exchanges rather than risking it all for actual vulnerable ones. As the series’ popularity rages on, our chances of stumbling upon another Lauren and Cameron only dwindles.

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‘Love Is Blind’ Season 4 Review, Criticism of New Episodes