This image was taken from the official trailer for “Love is Blind: After the Altar,” distributed by Netflix.

“Love is Blind” is one of Netflix’s dalliances with the reality TV genre — a quote-unquote social experiment in which a group of men and women sit through a series of blind speed dates, with “blind” being the operative word. The dates are conducted with each participant in their own little pod, unable to see the person they’re talking to — and falling in love with. The most recent season follows a select few couples whose blind love carried them all the way to the altar: Danielle and Nick, Iyanna and Jarrette, Mallory and Salvador, Shayne and Natalie, Shaina and Kyle and Shake and Deepti. Yes, I typed out all their names with no need for quick internet searches or references, and no, I’m not embarrassed. Whether these couples actually made it past their wedding vows is covered in the follow-up to the series “Love is Blind: After the Altar,” which keeps the drama coming even after the honeymoon phase has ended, reminding us all just how much there is to love about reality TV. 

Two years since the initial “Love is Blind” experiment and seven months since it streamed on our screens, two of the series’ couples, Danielle and Nick and Jarette and Iyanna, filmed “After the Altar” while (still) married, leaving the rest single and ready to mingle. The three-episode extension of the second season revolves around a weekend getaway in celebration of Natalie’s 30th birthday. In order to keep the drama that fans the flames of every reality TV show, everyone from season two of “Love is Blind” is invited — including some stars’ new significant others. The only ones left out of the birthday bash plans are Shake, who was possibly the show’s most-hated personality, and Shayne, because no one wants their ex-fiancé at their birthday party. The new installment of the show takes us through the motions of both party planning and partying, giving us a glimpse of everyone’s post-pod lives and new relationships. 

The most notable developments in the pod squads’ lives since season two of “Love is Blind” aired are the new romances that have formed — or, in some cases, formed, and then ended, and then reformed and ended again. After the “Love is Blind” reunion episode in which Kyle declared his biggest regret was not asking Deepti to marry him, the two became fast friends, doing their best to ignore the very obvious romantic and sexual tension. Afraid to damage their friendship, the two dance around their romantic feelings, and their relationship takes center stage in “After the Altar.” Their storyline is so purely sweet it’s a little sickening, but luckily the show gives us some more engaging gossip with the continuation of the love triangle between Natalie, Shayne and Shaina. Natalie and Shayne had a seemingly very solid relationship in season two of “Love is Blind,” but struggled with communication and, most of all, interference from Shaina, Shayne’s second choice in the pods. Once reunited with all the “Love is Blind” girls, Natalie dishes out the details of her reignited — and since snuffed out — romance with Shayne after their almost-wedding. Shaina and Shayne’s supposed friendship continued to loom over Natalie and Shayne’s attempts at reconciliation, closing the door between them forever. Obviously, Shaina had to make an appearance at Natalie’s birthday party, if only to be petty and annoying — but, let’s be honest, petty dramatics are exactly what reality TV is all about. 

“Love is Blind: After the Altar” provided reality TV fans everywhere with a perfect cocktail of all the best parts of reality and dating television. First, we have the setting: forced proximity in the middle of a snowy winter wilderness (in New Buffalo, Michigan, of all places), in a cabin stocked with plenty of drinks and plenty of exes. Then, there are the episodes themselves, filmed in a traditional style complete with confessionals and microphones everywhere that don’t miss a single moment of drama. The running time of each episode doesn’t ever surpass the 45-minute mark, allowing plenty of time for delicious disaster while ensuring that the viewer doesn’t fall into a state of mind-numbing boredom (I’m looking at you, “The Bachelor” and its spinoffs). Finally, we have the characters: the combination of new people and familiar faces is a sure recipe for disaster, with new tensions between old flames and deliciously awkward moments galore. I love reality TV. 

Now, all reality TV watchers love a good dose of gossip just as much as anyone else, and we were rewarded with some interesting information about the pod-squad before a single episode even dropped, completely changing the way we view “After the Altar.” A good month before the show even aired, both couples who said “I do” on their “Love is Blind” wedding day publicly announced their divorce via Instagram. Married couple Jarrette and Iyanna were fairly open about the struggles in their marriage throughout the three episodes of “After the Altar,” with Iyanna candidly telling the viewers that she had been living apart from Jarrette for some time. Though “After the Altar” ended with a hopeful note as Iyanna reconciled with Jarrette and moved back in with him, it seems they just couldn’t push past their initial difficulties. This is even more true with Danielle and Nick, who also recently announced their divorce. The married couple had been two of “After the Altar’”s central figures, acting as the party planners and the pseudo-parents of the group, appearing to have put the initial communication issues and overall struggles of their marriage behind them. Clearly, that wasn’t the case. Knowing the truth of the two marriages while watching “After the Altar” definitely creates a duality of realities, but it does serve to remind us that all that glitters is not gold in the world of reality TV.

At the end of the day, it’s important to remember that obviously, very little of what we see in our supposedly “reality” based TV shows is actually real. But reality TV series like “Love is Blind” and “After the Altar” blur the precarious line between reality and fantasy. We as the audience are drawn in by the best, most authentic aspects of the show — the genuine personalities of the characters in their confessionals and their valid interpersonal struggles — while keeping at arm’s length the most unbelievable parts, made wildly sensational by artistic liberties, strategic cuts and heavy editing. We watch those scenes of heightened drama with incredulity, thinking things like: “I would never act like that,” or “Who would ever say yes to that guy?” We are simultaneously drawn to and repulsed by reality TV, and it’s that perfect duality that makes the consumption of shows like “After the Altar” so sickeningly enjoyable and perfectly thrilling. 

Daily Arts Writer Annabel Curran can be reached at