By now, you may have seen Love Is Blind’s Abhishek Chatterjee, aka Shake, ask women in the pods if he could pick them up easily, or if they worked out, in a not-so-covert attempt to figure out their size. You may have also seen him tell anyone within earshot that he wasn’t attracted to his (now former) fiancée Deepti. And, if you’ve watched the reunion, then you’ve heard him try to defend his physical preferences and say that “love is blurry”. Let me try to explain what the biggest villain in reality dating TV since Justin from Dating Around was trying to say. Disclaimer: I do not agree with most of the things Shake said. I do think he has a point but doesn’t have the vocabulary, sensitivity or knowledge to explain what he was going through on the show. I had a positive edit on my show and still found a lot of mind fuckery I needed to work through three years after my edit was aired, so I can’t even imagine what he must be going through as a villain.
Like many other brown kids, I have parents that met on their wedding day, and just celebrated their 42nd wedding anniversary. I, on the other hand, am 40 years old, single, and completely burnt out from the search for “The One”. I understand how the premise of Netflix’s Love is Blind hopes to provide us with a solution to overcome the superficial hurdles to finding long-lasting love. In my own dating history, I often focused on physical attraction, and that caused me to ignore all the red flags. How my parents met is beginning to feel like a far superior solution to my own trials and errors (which I never thought I’d say). Take the physical out of the equation and get to know one another so that you fall in love without attraction blundering your decision making process? It makes sense on the surface.
But unfortunately, on Love is Blind, it’s not all that it seems, which is why most couples on the show don’t end up married. Focusing on substance should lead you to connect on an authentic level—or as our beautiful Indian castmate Deepti’s mother said, “connect at the heart”—but Love is Blind doesn’t actually take an authentic approach to making the cast members fall in love. It actually produces the feeling.
Physical attraction is just one of the many reasons humans fall in love. Although Love is Blind says they take the superficial aspect out of the dating equation, which can sometimes lead us astray, it replaces it with another feeling that can be just as misleading. The hurdles of not being able to see someone at your will actually causes attraction. It even has a name: frustration attraction.
Adversity in being able to see someone heightens feelings of romance in the brain and releases dopamine and chemicals that feel like love. Ever feel totally OK about a break up but as soon as you reach out to an ex for something but don’t hear back, you feel distraught and start obsessing? That frustration attraction is why so many of us second-guess when we break up with someone. If you ever got back with an ex, later regretted it, and didn’t understand why you did it in the first place, frustration attraction may have been the culprit. Absence makes the heart grow fonder, and the delayed gratification of frustration attraction replaces the initial physical attraction in Love is Blind, leaving the cast members in the same dilemma the show says it’s trying to prevent in the first place.
Love is Blind isn’t taking attraction out of the mix, it’s actually creating an environment for a different kind of attraction to make people fall in love quickly so that the struggles of modern love can be created for our viewing pleasure. The show mimics our reality, which is why it’s so engaging to watch in the first place. It’s still genius, but it’s not as innocent as it seems.
What Shake was trying to explain, but was too defensive to be able to articulate intelligently, is that as many of us know, everything is not what it seems on reality TV. The show isn’t actually simplifying the search for love at all, it actually reinforces the fact that finding long-lasting love is extremely difficult and complicated. Shake’s attraction faded, which can happen to any of us in that environment (or even in the real world), and whether we like to admit it or not, attraction matters.
The pressure on our partners has never been higher. We now want them to do it all: give us butterflies, solely focus on us, meet our needs while also being able to communicate their own feelings and desires on top of all the other traits we’re looking for. Extroversion vs. introversion, spending habits, drinking habits, fitness levels, family values, communication style, emotional depth, social media etiquette, career potential, vacation style—the list goes on and on. It’s not as simple as an emotional connection.
Love isn’t blind at all. Love is quite observant, complicated and multi-faceted. The show reminds us that love is far more nuanced than the simple act of falling in love, but that love isn’t just a choice; it’s also an unexplainable feeling that when lacking, creates the tension and doubt we see play out on screen. You can’t force love, even if you can force initial attraction.
Image: ADAM ROSE/NETFLIX
Dating shows are romantic comedies created by the crafty editing of producers. The work of reality dating producers is so notorious that there was even a scripted drama about them, Unreal. Talk about meta. And despite their behind-the-scenes manipulations, we are grateful for their hard work. We love a romantic story arc, and this season of Love is Blind seemed to deliver on many fronts.
Shayne, the enthusiastic, All-American guy softens the serious career-focused Natalie à la How to Lose a Guy in Ten Days, The Wedding Planner, or literally any film Matthew McConaughey plays the love interest in.
Danielle and Nick were so perfect for each other in the pods, but outside they were constantly at odds. Forgive the rhyme but it’s kind of perfect for the movie poster, no? We know this story. It’s You’ve Got Mail. It’s Hitch. They work it out in the end.
Dare we say Jarrette and Iyanna were a gender swapped Sweet Home Alabama or Bridget Jones Diary? Jarrette couldn’t see the perfect girl was right in front of him the whole time—until the romantic finale, that is.
And we cannot forget about the most important subgenre of the romantic comedy canon: the best friend-turned-lover. It’s When Harry Met Sally, Love and Basketball, and the incredibly on-the-nose titled My Best Friend’s Wedding. And forgive us, but that’s what we hoped we might have with Shake and Deeps.
Shake’s introduction into the show didn’t endear him to our hearts. He is well documented not only asking every woman her size, but also thinking he was outsmarting them in how he asked. “Do you work out?” “Can I lift you on my shoulders easily?” Even through an opaque wall, the women could see right through him.
But image-obsessed Shake had his figurative walls shaken by his feelings for Deepti. Both born in India and raised in the US, both claimed to only date blondes, Deepti and Shake found love in the one place they didn’t expect it: with someone who shared their story. As Deepti said, Shake was the first brown guy she ever kissed. Tell us that is not the ideal rom-com set-up!
Upon meeting Deeps in person, Shake bent down and kissed her feet—an Indian marriage tradition, usually performed by the woman to the man (and one that Deepti told him in the pods she wasn’t down for). But Shake flipped the gender roles of the tradition. He was honoring their heritage in a modern way! He was showing her they were equals. If you didn’t get butterflies at this, you’re dead inside—or you need to watch more rom-coms.
But as the wedding day approached, Shake would not stop talking about his lack of physical attraction to Deeps. He loved her. He respected her. She was his best friend, but he wouldn’t stop comparing her to his aunt (side note, who is Shake’s aunt because she sounds like a catch). Still, we thought that love might prevail and he would overcome his hang-ups.
In fact, we were so invested in writing Shake’s redemption story that we were blinded (yes, Love is Blind and we were too). Deeps deserved better, a lot better. But thankfully, Deeps was not blind and told Shake no at the altar. After Deepti walked back down the aisle, Shake’s mask came off. He told everyone it was time to party, and said it would all be fine since he had reservations at Nobu on Sunday. (FYI, anyone can get reservations at Nobu. You just call 30 days in advance.)
So, the redemption story never came for Shake. He solidified himself as a villain in the finale and that was the end of his story. He should take his new Instagram followers, go back to his vet practice, and maybe have a meet-cute with a girl who comes in with her ailing kitten. One he can easily put on his shoulders—the girl, not the kitten.
But dear lord no, Shake had more in store for us because we hadn’t seen him unfiltered with the whole cast, and untethered by loyalty to Deeps—but we see plenty at the season 2 reunion, which just dropped on Netflix. Vanessa Lachey attempts to ease into the reunion taping, by asking if everyone is nervous. Shake chooses to reply to this rhetorical question by saying he is nervous at how he will be edited. Beside him Shayne quips, “that’s what you’re gonna lead with.”
In the hour that follows, Shayne’s excessive fidgeting is all of us. Seated next to Shake, he is a visual manifestation of everyone at home watching a man crash and burn. At one point, Shayne can’t hold it in anymore and unprompted says, “I am extremely uncomfortable,” as Shake spars with Vanessa Lachey. And then, like 10 seconds later, Shake tells Vanessa she is the only woman there he is attracted to. We were extremely uncomfortable too, Shayne.
Every single cast member comes for Shake. The Lacheys come for Shake. And he does not stand down until Deepti addresses him. When Deepti talks to Shake you can see a change. His eyes appear glassy. His posture changes. He is no longer sitting up in attack mode nor manspreading on a very tight couch. She may pacify him for a moment, but there is no redemption for Shake.
The year is 2022, y’all. The rom-com should not be dead, but not all bad men get a redemption story, no matter how hard the producers try to help them. And so Shake is not Harry, even if Deepti would make an excellent Sally.
Image: Courtesy of Netflix
Can you guys believe I’m back to recap a reality show where everyone except one of the couples should not be together? No, I’m not talking about Vanderpump Rules, but Love is Blind, the Netflix sensation sweeping the nation.
Vanessa and Obviously Nick Lachey are back to host and to once again prove to us that their entire presence on this show is completely useless. How many times do you think the phrase “you got ENGAGED to someone SIGHT UNSEEN regardless of LOOKS, RACE, INCOME” will be uttered? Take a shot for every time it’s said, and then meet me in the hospital immediately after the show.
Absolutely no one:
Nick & Vanessa Lachey every 16 seconds: you got engaged to someone you NEVER SAW. You’re here to PROVE if LOVE is really BLIND. This is a REVOLUTIONARY EXPERIME—
— sarafcarter (@sarafcarter) February 29, 2020
Here at the reunion are Lauren and Cam, Amber and Barnett, Jessica and Mark, Kenny and Kelly, and Diamond and Carlton. Amber has gone blonde, and I do feel like that choice better captures her chaotic energy.
Mark, Jessica, Diamond, Carlton, and Kelly are currently single, and miraculously, both couples that got married on the show are still married. I’ve got to say, I fully expected Barnett and Amber to implode by now.
Damian and Gigi are back together, which isn’t a shock really since we knew that already. It is a shock in the sense that they are extremely toxic, but whatever, it’s not my life.
First up is Kenny and Kelly. Kenny is dating someone, but Kelly is single. Since the show, Kelly’s dated one of her best friends who was at their wedding. And meanwhile, I’ve been going on year five without a man, so… somebody nominate me for season 2. Kelly says some B.S. about “growth” and her “journey” from the show or whatever, and Kenny is flexing real hard that he’s got a new girlfriend. I can’t hate the guy because I’d be doing the same thing, though.
Amber’s first comment is that she “hasn’t killed Barnett yet”, which honestly, I really thought would happen. Well, more accurately, I thought she’d pull a Lorena Bobbitt on him, but same idea.
So Gigi and Damian are “so together” (once again, methinks the lady doth protest too much). She already starts tearing up while talking about waking up next to Damian every day. Call me cynical, but I’m going to stick to my theory that they’re both actors. That was a pretty good performance, though, I’ll give them that.
Lauren and Cam, dream couple, are still married, and Mark is single, wearing less and going out more. Ya love to see it.
Barnett looks back on him leading on three girls in the pod simultaneously and has #noregrets. They never do, do they? He claims he’s “not super good with girls.”
All of us:
We know what we saw in the pod, Barnett.
Amber talks about how all the girls were together in the pod (I forgot about that part) and she and LC had an agreement that they just wouldn’t talk about Barnett to each other. Jessica, meanwhile, told Amber that Barnett was proposing (she was also holding her beloved bottle of Joel Gott red wine and slurring her words at the time, classic Messica). Amber calls Jessica sheisty for throwing herself at Barnett in Mexico. Honestly, go off sis.
Jessica admits that she didn’t take Barnett’s rejection very well (you can say that again) and apologizes to Amber. Good move Jessica, Amber won’t stab you in the heart with her stiletto heel… today. Jessica says she has no hard feelings toward Amber, to which Amber just laughs. Jessica, on second thought, you might want to sleep with one eye open.
Vanessa and Nick are so f*cking messy, asking Amber if she accepts Jessica’s apology, and then when Amber explains her thought process that she felt like she looked like a fool for being friends with Jessica, they just cut in like “okay but do you accept the apology OR NAH?”
DO YOU ACCEPT JESSICA’S APOLOGY, YES OR NO!
Like damn, let Amber speak! I know y’all want to be seen as relevant or at all integral to this show, but we didn’t come here for you.
Amber says she accepts “the intent behind the apology” but not the apology itself yet. I love that non-acceptance-acceptance, it feels straight out of the Real Housewives of Potomac.
So everyone loves Lauren (same), and Damian reminisces on how he and Lauren used to talk to each other in Star Wars voices and had a great time in the pod, and Giannina is plotting all the ways in which she could murder her and then flee the country, never to be heard from again.
Me to Lauren:
Why am I relating everything to murder in this recap? Because of who I am as a person.
We relive Carlton and Diamond’s engagement. Oh, this is gonna be awkward. I’m taking a deep breath as we revisit the Carlton/Diamond breakup in Mexico. For the record, I can see both sides. If I were Diamond, I’d be upset that Carlton had all the time in the pods to bring up his sexuality, but waited until we were engaged to reveal that to me. But on the other hand, I can obviously understand why Carlton would be hesitant to share that information. And if Diamond didn’t have a problem with his sexuality in the first place, then the revelation probably would not have been a big deal, even with the timing.
Wow, I almost forgot how Carlton told Diamond to watch her wig. A truly iconic reality TV moment.
Carlton cries and expresses regret for not talking to Diamond earlier. I can’t tell if I would be happy if these two got back together. Their fight was explosive, but they were kinda cute in the pods?
Okay, never mind, Diamond says that she would never be back with Carlton because of the way he disrespected her during their fight.
Obviously, Nick is like, “I think what I’m hearing from both of you is that you both regret being messy af during that fight.” Yeah dude, we’ve spent the last 10 minutes saying exactly that.
Then Carlton gets up, says he’s NOT PROPOSING, kneels down with a ring box, to… apologize and give Diamond the ring back? Damn, Love is Blind has a higher budget than The Bachelor if Carlton is allowed to keep the ring. In The Bachelor, they have to be married for 2 years or else that shit goes back to Neil Lane.
Vanessa: OMG, I’m speechless.
Ok, stay that way! We didn’t come here for y’all!
Next up is the Damian and Gigi show, where Gigi claims she didn’t go into the pods with a pre-planned idea of proposing to Damian. Sure, Jan. Sure.
They’re still dating, but not living together, which is actually… a sensible thing to do? I’m actually shocked.
Watching the clip back of Gigi giving Damian his “bow” back, he starts tearing up. Can somebody call LA and get this guy an acting gig!? He cries and apologizes for putting her through the embarrassment of getting left at the altar on TV, but says he’d do it again because they’re in a better place now.
Okay, Gigi acknowledges that she self-sabotages (take a drink, because just like SIGHT UNSEEN is Nick and Vanessa’s catchphrase, self-sabotage is hers), and admitted that she blew up in non-productive ways. HA! To all you who doubted me in the comments of my other article, I say, HA!
And, she starts crying… ok, we get it, I’m convinced… of y’all’s acting skills. Just kidding, I’m sure they really love each other! I just can’t imagine watching that toxic tornado of a relationship on screen and thinking, “yeah, let’s totally give this another round.” These two really prove that love is blind, and also, unhealthy.
Vanessa is literally Lauren B. from The Bachelor, being like “I love that” to everything everybody says.
Vanessa: I love your love.
Me, audibly at my desk: Ew.
Now it’s time to talk about Kelly and Kenny, or as my friend put it, “the boring couple who I can’t believe didn’t get married in the end.” I do feel like they totally pulled a bait-and-switch on us, acting totally stable until the bitter end.
Kenny says all the takeaways he learned from the show, he applied to his new relationship. So he and his new gf only talk to each other through a wall! Just kidding, he’s learned to be vulnerable and whatever. Next.
Vanessa: I’ll say it: Kenny for President
Vanessa, we have enough white men in the race. We’re good.
Kelly immediately starts crying, and no wonder, because she’s gotten a lot of hate even though she says she and Kenny agreed to not get married beforehand. She says she loved Kenny but she wasn’t in love with him, and she wanted to continue dating but Kenny was like “nah, I’m good”. Ouch.
Kelly is all of us, admitting she’s friend-zoned all the good guys that she should probably be marrying. I’ll say it: Kelly for President! F*ck you, Vanessa.
Nick and Vanessa: Amber and Barnett, how’s married life been?
Barnett: Well, I live every day in constant fear that she’ll castrate me, so it’s a wild ride for sure.
I want to know if Amber has gotten a job, or at least a credit limit above $700? No shade, but I feel like a 12-year-old could get a higher credit limit than that. (Ok, maybe some shade.)
Amber admits that at one point she’d called a divorce lawyer, but they somehow made it through to the other side (maybe Amber realized she didn’t have enough money for a divorce?).
Finally, it’s what everyone’s been waiting for: The Hot Mess Jess Express. Frankly, I’m a little disappointed to see Contrite Jessica. She’s recognizing she drank too much, admitting she was working through a lot of issues that caused her to say wild sh*t, apologizing to Mark for implying he’s not good-looking. Of course, I’m happy for her and her growth, but who’s bringing the drama this reunion? I guess I’ll have to take one for the team and do it *downs an entire bottle of Malbec* let’s go.
Mark, true sensitive king, doesn’t throw Jessica under the bus, and still calls her a “phenomenal woman.” My exes wouldn’t piss on me if I was on fire, how do I get a Mark in my life?
Mark does admit that he wishes Jessica had told him that she still had feelings for Barnett, and Jessica blames it on the fact that she was served whiskey. LMAO! There she is! I’m going to start saying “Well, I was served whiskey” any time someone calls me out for doing something crazy when drunk. Girl, I don’t think that’s how it works.
There’s honestly no real need to recap the Lauren and Cameron love story. They’re happy, we’re happy, everyone’s happy. They have a puppy, so they’re officially goals.
Vanessa: We got a fur baby, and we were committing to what we’d be like as parents.
For the last time, Vanessa! This isn’t about you!
Cameron is such a cutie, talking about Lauren’s dad and crying. Cool, now I’m crying. I didn’t ask for this. They are the cutest, and if they ever break up I’ll have to take a week off work.
Lmao now Vanessa is crying. You know what girl, I’ll give you this one. Go ahead, cry it out.
Vanessa: Nick and I always said, this was a social experiment. This was a love experiment. But ultimately, your feelings were real.
Lol, acting as if they themselves designed the experiment instead of just popped up every time they were contractually obligated to give the same speech about LOVE BEING TRULY BLIND. Listen Netflix, on Love is Blind season 2, we don’t want a host. It’s not necessary. If you’re going to have a host, get Michelle Buteau from The Circle to make snarky remarks about everyone every 3 seconds. Otherwise, don’t bother.
And after going around the room and saying what everybody learned from the experience like this is f*cking summer camp, Vanessa has everyone raise their hands if they believe (get your drink ready) that love is really blind. Of course, everybody raises their hand. And with that, I leave you… to go apply for Love is Blind season 2. See you in the pods!
Images: Netflix; Giphy; sarafcarter / Twitter