Anyone that tuned in to season three of “Love is Blind” could tell you it was a hot mess. I’m here to tell you the reunion was even messier.
One of Netflix’s most popular dating shows, “Love is Blind” is known for its unique premise and approach to cultivating reality TV romance. Rather than throwing together a bunch of conventionally attractive singles into a tropical villa and watching the romantic and sexual tension build and eventually break, “Love is Blind” prides itself on allowing couples to foster real, emotional connections that eventually lead to marriage. Set roughly one year after the season finished wrapping, “Love is Blind: After the Altar” brings back the five main couples from season three who made it to their wedding day for an update on how their lives have unfolded since then.
This season’s couples are Alexa and Brennon, Zanab and Cole, Raven and SK, Nancy and Bartise, and Matt and Colleen. Of those couples, two said “yes” to getting married (Alexa and Brennon and Matt and Colleen), two broke up (Zanab and Cole and Nancy and Bartise) and one continued dating, despite saying “no” at the altar (Raven and SK). In previous seasons, the results were about the same with two couples saying “yes” and the majority saying “no” or later on parting ways. For viewers that have invested their time in “Love is Blind,” an official reunion filled with updates on each couple is certainly appreciated. It gives more insight into the question of whether love is blind by showing us a glimpse of life now that each couple has gotten to know each other more and has had to face the reality of living in a world outside of the pods.
Under the guise of Alexa’s birthday celebration, the couples, along with family, friends and others from the “Love is Blind” cast, come together for the first time since the show finished filming. As we go through each couple, it’s clear to see that not much has changed in the past year. Alexa and Brennon remain the one seemingly unproblematic couple and appear to have a very affectionate, loving and supportive relationship. While we can’t take everything we see on-screen as objective truth, Alexa and Brennon provide a pretty strong argument that the show can actually work. In all honesty, they are the only couple I really saw with the potential to work long-term.
Matt and Colleen remain as boring as ever, and while it seems impossible that a relationship that appears to be nothing more than constant bickering can be all that healthy, maybe the cameras just did them dirty. Despite having been married for a year, the two have yet to move in together — which is maybe not the best position to be in at this point, but I’ve never been in their situation, so who am I to judge? Bartise continued to show all the reasons he is a walking red flag (condescending, egotistical, immature, the list goes on) and Nancy, with the help of her family, friends and pod-mates, finally came to the decision to cut him out of her life after a year of attempted friendship. Zanab and Cole, despite being the season’s most talked-about couple, had relatively little drama, which was a shock. Sure, Cole showed how he has improved himself in exactly zero ways by continuing to gaslight, shift blame and accuse Zanab and the rest of the women of painting him as a villain, but did we expect anything less? Perhaps most shocking of all, Raven and SK continued dating after the show ended and SK even proposed to Raven a second time on “After the Altar.” She happily accepted his proposal for a second time, before the screen faded to black and revealed the two have since broken up after SK cheated on her.
Reality TV thrives off of clicks and views, so naturally it needs to create drama that will keep viewers coming back. They need to be shocked by absurd behavior and be given ways to insert themselves into each character’s experience in order for the show to be successful. So can viewers really fault the genre for finding the most out-of-pocket, fictional-seeming people who do things they would never even dream of? No, we eat it up every time. Granted, there needs to be some level of positive, semi-healthy romantic relationships on-screen like the happy couple in Alexa and Brennon that will make us believe in love. But oh, do we want the mess.
Maybe “Love is Blind” was on a mission this season to show a more real version of what the results of their love experiment are actually like, or maybe the characters (because, let’s be honest, with all the petty drama and unbelievable behavior of some of these people, that’s what they are to us watching at home) were unapologetically themselves in a way that not even the cameras manipulate. It is hard to tell whether what is shown on-screen is accurate and the extent to which the contestants are accurately portrayed. Obviously there is a significant amount of editing and creation of character arcs that the contestants can’t control, but it all has to be based on some level of reality, whether that be what the contestants say or how they behave. What producers do from there certainly shapes how they are perceived at home, but the producers can’t create the show from nothing, so there has to be some level of truth to what is seen. To some extent, we know reality TV is not real, but it remains horrifyingly enticing and just real enough to keep our eyes glued to the screen, and “After the Altar” strikes that balance of messy fascination perfectly.
Daily Arts Writer Jenna Jaehnig can be reached at email@example.com.