I intensely respect a dear friend who once headed marketing for networks and world class apparel companies. We don’t share a lot in common except our first names; these days, from what I can tell he’s far happier than I am. He lives overseas with the love of his life, runs a world class destination resort in one of the most beautiful settings imaginable, alluring enough that I dare say some of the most desirable people on Earth would do anything to find a way to be in his world.
And yet, his exotic, idyllic world somehow has found time to invest in and dissect a Netflix TV show that an awful lot of elitists would pooh-pooh, at least publicly, and one that isn’t likely to win the kinds of awards that the platform seems to covet. His private words in reaction to the piece we recently wrote on the state of Netflix as a whole spoke volumes to me:
“This season of LOVE IS BLIND was bonkers and irresistable”.
“I love LIB. I’ve watched all of the seasons of LIB USA, plus LIB Brazi and LIB Japan.”
“The reunion show wasn’t great, but tea was spilled and mud was flung”.
As we previously covered, the reunion show for the recently concluded fourth season of this “social experiment” was an experiment of its own for Netflix, its second significant attempt to livestream a destination event. Reunion shows have proven to be the ticket to engaging fans and attracting incremental attention to shows that have established beachheads on linear networks like Bravo, VH-1 and even CBS and ABC with the likes of SURVIVOR and THE BACHELOR. And without the heavily edited and overproduced slickness of competition episodes, and with the hindsight of a distantly produced season of emotional rollercoasters now behind them, often the post-mortem is as compelling as the execution.
Well, the actual livestream never happened, as Sarah El-Mahmoud of CinemaBlend reported:
First off, of course we have to talk about the whole live fiasco that had Love is Blind fans confused and disappointed. Two weeks prior to the reunion, it was announced that, for the first time, Netflix would broadcast the post-finale episode live on Sunday evening. It was a great idea in theory, that would pull in a ton of viewers to the same event at the same time. However, it failed to air on time and the internet was not happy about it. It left viewers feeling stood up following the announcement and lead up to the special event. What a disaster for Netflix. We wonder if the streamer will try to go live again anytime soon after seriously dropping the ball!
It still was quite successful, enough so that it merited special attention from top executives during this past week’s investor call, bragging about the viewership despite the snafu, as Erci Gruenwedel of MediaPlay News reported:
Netflix’s failed attempt to live-stream a special “Love Is Blind Season 4” reunion show on April 16 still generated 6.5 million viewers after a taped version of the program was made available on April 17, according to co-CEO Greg Peters.
Speaking on the April 18 fiscal webcast, Peters again apologized for what he called a technical “bug” that materialized despite extra precautions taken to avoid any possible snafu.
“We hate when these things happen, but we’ll learn from it and will get better,” Peters said, adding that the platform has the requisite “infrastructure that we need” to live stream in the future.
Co-CEO Ted Sarandos, who is also chief content officer, said the practice going forward would largely be dependent on the content and its relevancy toward generating viewership buzz.
So, naturally, after that, I had to check this out for myself. When beautiful people recommend a reality show, despite whatever misgivings or disinterest I might be predisposed to, I feel compelled to find out what compels them to love it so much.
And, boy, did I get an education.
For one, there’s an awful lot of love and hate for the cast. As El-Mahmoud continued:
Once the reunion finally arrived on Netflix, fans were treated to an hour and a half of catching up with the stars following the events of Season 4. The first 20 minutes were definitely focused on the happy couples, but things first started heating up when Zack’s ex, Irina, was brought on stage and she owned up to her actions on the show, which she later admitted was a “difficult experience”. There was especially a lot of tension when Zack spoke to his thoughts on their relationship before calling her out for apparently going on the show only to “get famous.”
Irina refuted Zack’s claims, sharing that she was looking for love on the series, but realized that she acted “selfish” during the experience and treated her ex-fiancé poorly during their relationship. Both Zack and Bliss shared that they “forgive” Irina for her actions, but wow, that was intense!
And then there was the backstory and reaction to a cast member who wasn’t there for the reunion, and her theories as to why:
One of the key contestants, Jackelina Bonds, was not present at the reunion itself to give Marshall closure after breaking up with him, and starting a relationship with another man she met in the pods. Apparently, Jackelina and Josh skipping the reunion for an awkward Zoom interview instead was Netflix’s decision, not Jackelina’s, and she’s opening up about it.
The Love Is Blind star has revealed that Netflix actually asked her to skip the reunion and even cancelled her booked flight pretty last minute. As Jackelina shared:
They had me talk to a psychologist, and the psychologist was the one that told us that we weren’t gonna go. That was how it went down. They called on a three-way [conference call], and they were kind of, ‘Oh, due to your mental health, we think it’s best for you to… not come to the reunion.’
In an interview with The Wrap, Jackelina spoke to why she was not at the Season 4 reunion. Apparently the producers had concerns over her mental health after a psych evaluation, and it was decided she would not be physically joining the live taping.
And, much as has been the case with recent seasons of THE BACHELOR, even the shows’ hosts are causing controversy and attract enough attention to warrant a torrent of online reaction superior to many elections, as Kelly Coffey-Behrens of BLAST.com reported:
After what fans are deeming as a disastrous “Love Is Blind” finale, viewers of the reality show have started a petition to replace Nick and Vanessa Lachey as hosts. Just days after the finale hit Netflix, the petition has gained thousands of signatures asking the show to consider hiring new hosts for the next season.
Fans of Netflix’s popular dating show “Love Is Blind” are making their voices heard after what many are calling a cringe-worthy finale.
A change.org petition titled “Remove Nick and Vanessa Lachey as the Hosts of Love is Blind” is now going viral, gaining thousands of signatures. Nick Lachey, specifically, has been called out for his seemingly shady comment towards his ex-wife, Jessica Simpson, when he claimed “second marriages are always the best” on the season 3 reunion.
While Vanessa Lachey is being targeted for seemingly wanting “as much camera time as possible by cutting into every conversation, speaking over her husband and contestants, and very badly acting like she cares about members of the cast”.
The petition continues to state, “Neither Nick or Vanessa make any effort to guide the cast through a confusing and emotional experience and blatantly attempt to stir up drama and leave. Other off-putting behavior includes Nick saying ‘Obviously – I’m Nick Lachey’ when introducing himself (we get it you’re a washed-up C-List celebrity congrats), letting the season 2 reunion get completely out of hand, and targeting certain contestants rather than treating them equally during the experiment”.
During the season four reunion, which was a disaster before it even aired due to the prolonged delay, fans called Vanessa Lachey out for being “bias”, specifically between contestants Paul Pedan and Micah Lussier.
I’m consistently amazed at the level of appetite that exists for this kind of television. But I’ve studied it enough beyond even my interactions with beautiful fans to know why it has such strong appeal. We develop connections and rooting interests with the cast members, carefully curated to produce maximum diversity (at least in personalities) and conflict potential. When they are challenged or ignored, or simply misunderstood, fans empathize. They care. And they continue to do. Witness the reaction to a prior season’s competitor’s struggles earlier this week, as reported by Jordan Parker Erb of INSIDER this morning:
Fans of “Love is Blind” alum Shayne Jansen are worried for the star’s wellbeing and begging him to “get help” after he posted an erratic Instagram Live.
In a recording of the April 16 live stream, posted by a fan to TikTok, Jansen, 33, is seen fidgeting and speaking incoherently. In comments on the live stream and the subsequent TikTok, fans expressed concern for Jansen, who bounced from talking about America being a “free country” to how he “self-sabotages everything.”
Shortly after the live stream aired, Jansen said he was taking a break from social media, writing in an Instagram story on Thursday, “I’ll see y’all next week or month,” according to Entertainment Tonight.
And, of course, the raw numbers the show has delivered, per Wikipedia, speak loudest of all to someone like me:
Netflix reported 30 million households had watched the series within four weeks after premiere, and as reported in the Netflix 2020 viewing trends summary, Love Is Blind Season One “stayed in the US Top 10 for 47 days straight after its release in February – the second-longest run of any title (in 2020) behind Cocomelon at 64 days. But unlike pre-schoolers, adults don’t tend to watch the same shows over and over again!” 
In 2020, Love Is Blind Season One became Netflix’s number-one trending program, coinciding with the COVID-19 pandemic. Nielsen reported Love Is Blind delivered 1.5 million viewers for the first five episodes, 1.3 million for the next four episodes, and 829,000 for the finale episode in its first full week. As of April 22, 2023, the reunion episode had been viewed by almost 2.5 million viewers on YouTube alone.
In 2022, Love Is Blind spent 86 days in the Netflix US Top Ten, more than any series other than Cocomelon, Stranger Things and Ozark.
Love Is Blind was the only unscripted program to rank in Nielsen’s list of 2022’s Top Ten Original Streaming Programs, measuring the most popular programs in America across the year, with 13.1 Billion minutes viewed.
In 2023, Love Is Blind Season Four delivered the biggest premiere viewership in its history.[
If anything can support why David Zaslav believes as much in the value of shows like DR. PIMPLE POPPER as much, or perhaps more, than he does compared to say, SUCCESSION, deliveries like that for his aspirational competition strongly support his opinion.
So, dammit, I’m invested. Maybe not as deeply or as immediately as those that HAD to see Zach and Bliss this week, but a lot more than I was, and likely a lot more than many others are willing to admit.
And fair warning, once you get a look at this, you might be, too.
After all, if people as successful and as beautiful as my friend, and one I wish still was, are fans, maybe the ones that are late to this party, such as yours truly, are the ones that have really been blind.
Now let’s go mop up the spilled tea.
Until next time…