If there’s one thing Netflix is great at, it’s creating outlandish reality dating shows starring hot people who just! can’t! seem! to find love. While some series are more geared toward sex (*cough* Too Hot to Handle) others, like Love is Blind, are supposed to help these poor, painfully attractive people find what they’ve been searching for:
social media followers their soul mates. And in what might be the most dramatic twist in reality show history, Love is Blind season 2 did just that. In fact, when ranking the Love is Blind: After the Altar couples, it’s clear there might actually be some real connections here… just maybe not the ones you expected.
ICYMI, After the Altar — which hit Netflix on Sept. 16 — showcases three 45ish-minute episodes that follow *most* of the couples/singles seen in season 2. I say most because head villain Abhishek Chatterjee (Shake) was noticeably absent. Whether he wanted to stick to his “everyone else is cloud-chasing” narrative or he simply wasn’t invited after his awkward Love is Blind reunion appearance, the jury’s out.
Shake aside, the brief glimpse at life post pods gives a clear look at which duos were worth the emotional investment this season. Ranked from worst to best, here’s our rundown of the After the Altar couples. Major spoilers ahead so consider this your one and only warning to take a sick day and catch up if you’re behind.
9. Shayne and Natalie
Leading up to the wedding it seemed like Shayne and Natalie might actually work. They were complete opposites — a rom-com tradition — and they appeared to at least like each other, which is more than you can say for some other on-screen pairings. Things went downhill, though, when Shayne got drunk the night before their wedding and said some pretty sh*tty things to Natalie (like, that he hated her, just to give you an idea).
Clearly, Natalie saying “no” at the altar was a good idea because hi, talk about spotting a huuuuuge red flag. But alcohol-fueled fights aside, this couple is still the epitome of messy after the altar. Naturally, they did the break-up-get-back-together dance multiple times before Natalie officially called it quits upon finding some scandy messages from (who else?) Shaina in Shayne’s DMs. The guy you gave a second chance to texting his ex? How disappointingly unoriginal.
Everyone except Natalie denied the messages exist, of course, but it was still a crucial plot point of the three-episode special, as is the fact that Shayne and Natalie obviously aren’t over each other. What makes this duo the worst isn’t their breakup, though, but it’s the fact that their relationship lowkey looks like every failed one we’ve ever had. A guy who gets mean when he’s drunk and (allegedly) lies about DMing other girls? C’mon, Netflix. We’re here for fun reality, not reality reality.
8. Jarrette and Iyanna
The only reason this couple isn’t ranked the worst is because Iyanna definitely liked the idea of being married to Jarette. I mean, she put up with every literal f*ck boy trait he exhibited in the name of the experiment, so there’s that. Truthfully, though, I don’t know if two people were ever less suited for each other. Jarrette loves to touch Iyanna; Iyanna doesn’t like being groped so much. Jarrette gives oddly wet kisses; Iyanna doesn’t like that much spit. Jarrette parties with his boys until the literal morning multiple times a week; Iyanna thinks that’s not cool because she’s an adult human with responsibilities and shows to binge.
That’s why it was a surprise to absolutely no one when Iyanna revealed she moved out of the couple’s shared apartment. The major twist, though, was when Iyanna admitted she never really had a direct talk with Jarrette about his actions. Now I’m no relationship therapist, but communication is kind of essential in a marriage, no? I mean, what do you get when you mix an extroverted party boy with an introvert who runs away from confrontation (all while giggling nervously)? A divorce, in this couple’s case. The pair announced their split in August, which is probably great for all involved, especially the bars Jarette frequents in Chicago.
7. Nick and Danielle
As the first duo to get engaged in the pods, Nick and Danielle were one of those couples that either made you smile or made you squirm. While their eight-year age difference was A Thing at first, post-wedding it looked like they found their groove. These two weirdos couldn’t stop talking about the themed parties they hosted together (THEY’RE FUN, OKAY?!), and for a minute, we almost forgot how controlling Nick could be. I mean, he got along with her family, and the pair loved hanging out with cast members to gossip about other cast members, just like a real married couple!
But — and here’s the thing only three rewatches in 24 hours will get you — there were signs, people. From the stiff body language to the lack of ease in conservation and this glint in Nick’s eyes when things weren’t going his way, things seemed off in a maybe scary way? If you’ve read literally any book involving a woman looking out a window, you know what I’m talking about. It wasn’t until the scene where Danielle tried to feed Nick sushi blindfolded, though, that the couple’s future split was evident. They also announced they were separating in August, and I think we should all thank that over-sauced sashimi for setting Danielle free.
6. Shaina and Kyle
If you completely forgot that season 2’s villain lite Shaina and nice guy Kyle were once engaged, you’re not alone. Their storyline lasted for approximately five minutes before Shaina literally left a free trip to Mexico because they didn’t mesh. It mostly came down to differing religious views (not to mention a clear lack of chemistry), but neither of them seemed remotely sad that their coupling didn’t last. Their relationship was brought up like, twice, in After the Altar, and they were both completely nonchalant about it.
Truthfully, Shaina and Kyle hover in the middle of our listing simply because they bring a lot to the reality table as individuals, even if their initial pairing together felt like a joke. Plus, these two did end up in relationships at the end of After the Altar, so clearly casting was on to something when they put them in the pods.
5. Shaina and Christos
The first new face of the season came in the form of Shaina’s now-husband, Christos. The couple got engaged on After the Altar, and Shaina wasted no time flashing her engagement ring at Natalie’s 30th birthday party—a classic mean girl move you just have to admire. Cattiness aside, Christos actually showed an impressive level of devotion when Danielle told the just-engaged couple about the swirling Shaina-Shayne DMs rumors. Instead of getting pissed or questioning his bride, Christos steadfastly had Shaina’s back. Whether or not he should is another story, but hey, at least her man is loyal!
The couple officially tied the knot in Greece this summer, and while you can’t determine much from the little bit of airtime their relationship got in After the Altar, Christos is an obvious catch. He’s a developer and restaurant owner, he’s got those mythical Greek looks, and he said he was first attracted to the sound of his wife’s voice (which is likely something not many other people can say). While Shaina might not be your favorite, this duo somehow seems pretty solid as a couple…for now, at least.
4. Mallory and Salv(ador)
Everyone knew from the start that Mal and Sal weren’t going to last, but as two relatively respectable, quieter people, they didn’t have a ton of drama throughout the show. That doesn’t make them bad, but for watchability purposes, it doesn’t make them good either. Other than some issues when Mallory and Jarrette had a moment in Mexico, these two were basically just the ill-suited ukulele couple.
Truthfully, the pair really only got interesting in After the Altar, which is why they’re ranked so high. Mallory showed more emotion in three episodes than she did the entire first part season, tearing up over the way her relationship ended. In fact, she said the experience made her recognize the walls she puts up to protect herself, so she started going to therapy. We love to see some personal growth! What made things really interesting, though, was when Sal brought his new girlfriend, Jessi, to Natalie’s birthday party. It was like a weekend getaway from hell for Mallory watching her ex make out with someone new. For a couple who provided very little entertainment before the altar, the Sallory drama officially had my attention after the “I don’ts.”
3. Salv(ador) and Jessi
Attempting to turn his “guy who plays the uke” typecast around, Sal might just be the most changed cast member of season 2. There’s so much to love about his evolution, from the savage confession that he was right not to marry Mallory to bringing his new girlfriend, Jessi with an “i”, to a weekend-long, pod squad-only getaway. And uh, speaking of Jessi, if you were straight watching the show, you have to at least be bi-curious after seeing Sal’s new boo.
According to Sal, Jessi is a “firecracker,” and according to viewers (it’s me, I’m viewers), she’s a living, breathing, crop top-wearing 10. Not only is she bold and loud and unapologetically sexy, but she appeared to be rubbing off on Sal. Case in point: While everyone else showed up to Nick and Danielle’s ‘80s party in tights and bodysuits, Jassi (Jessador?) arrived in full leather getups and joked about leaving the whip in the bedroom. Considering this was a guy who once serenaded an uninterested girl with a miniature-looking guitar, this is a major glow-up for season 2’s sweetie pie. After the Altar ended with Sal showing his siblings a ring and saying he wanted to marry Jessi, which feels fast but hey, if he doesn’t lock her down, someone else will. Go get her, bb.
2. Deepti and Kyle
The rumored will-they won’t-they pair finally is, and the world is a brighter, happier, more love-filled place. After the Altar showed Deepti and Kyle navigating a situationship-style friendship before agreeing to be an ~official~ couple in the final moments. Even though they didn’t get engaged on the show, they were actually pretty close to it before they each made comically wrong choices in the name of love (read: Shake and Shaina).
Still, it all worked out because these two proved the friends-to-lovers trope forever reigns supreme. If anything made watching a series of failed relationships worth it, it was the way Kyle kept kissing Deepti when she agreed to be his girlfriend. They both said this could be a forever kind of thing, so if all goes well, there just might be another season 2 LiB wedding in the making.
1. Shake and Deepti
Hear me out: In terms of being good together, Shake and Deepti were like fire and Moira Rose’s wig wall. Deeps was all in, while Shake just couldn’t stop talking about how *not* attracted to her he was. After he finally came around and saw what was in front of him, though, I think the entire world screamed with joy when Deepti left Shake at the altar.
So why are they the best couple? First, Shake spoke the truth in regard to the fact that everyone goes on LiB for fame. Like, I’m sorry, you’re not going to reality show auditions if you DGAF about followers, no matter how genuine you seem. But more than that, Shake’s sh*ttiness truly gave viewers the chance to cheer Deepti on. She went from being a woman who wasn’t appreciated to a role model of boundaries, independence, and self-worth. Plus, in the end, she got the hottest guy on the show and over a million followers on Instagram. If that’s not what true love stories are made of, I don’t know what is.
Images: Patrick Wymore, Adam Rose, Adrian S. Burrows Sr./Netflix; Courtesy of Netflix (9). Featured image courtesy of Getty Images.
Love is Blind season 2 might be over, but the cast tea is still piping hot. Whether shared on their own social media channels or in interviews—the cast is leaving no pop culture podcast hanging—news stories come out daily. It’s hard to keep up with all the drama, so we rounded up what you need to know.
First up, a very unexpected Love is Blind engagement is making headlines. Shaina, aka Kyle’s ex-fiancé, aka the one who tried to break up Shayne and Natalie, said yes. Not to anyone in the pods, but to a man named Christos Lardakis. Based on the cross emoji Shaina included in the caption of her engagement announcement, her new fiancé is a man who can “spiritually lead her”—unlike Kyle. You might be thinking, well that was a little fast, but a source told People that “she’s been dating Christos for almost a year.“ However, internet sleuths believe there might be more to the story.
Per his private Instagram bio, Shaina’s fiancé works for the Chicago restaurant Kanela, where Kyle and Shaina filmed a scene for Love is Blind. Is this just a crazy coincidence? It could be she met her now-fiancé on that awkward day of filming. (That would be some meet-cute.) Or was she already dating Lardakis, went on the show to grow her brand, and convinced producers to film at this restaurant to get her secret boyfriend’s place some PR? We are not one for conspiracy theories, but this is just crazy enough that we kind of believe it.
If you’re still rooting for Natalie and Shayne, we recommend you find a new couple to champion. Natalie told host Alyssa Amoroso on Barstool Sports’ Tea with Publyssity podcast that the door to that relationship is closed. And no wonder, because her ex-fiancé is stirring the pot on Instagram.
Shayne sparked romance rumors between Natalie and their fellow cast member Sal during an Instagram Q&A. When asked, “Do you and Natalie hate each other now?” Shayne overlaid a shirtless selfie with the text “ASK @SALVADIOR08,” tagging Sal directly. In the selfie, Shayne’s face reads “Sal broke bro code.” But before you could say #Satalie (Or Nalvador?) Natalie quickly shut down the rumor on Barstool Sports’ Tea with Publyssity, telling Amoroso, “I know there have been speculations of me and Sal dating. We are not. We are just really close friends.” If this rumor is totally false, it does leave us wondering what Shayne intended with that answer.
As for her current relationship status, it looks like Natalie is not planning to move her love life out of the spotlight anytime soon. She told Amoroso she was “exploring some things” and to “stay tuned.” Is this a new way to soft launch a boyfriend? Or a podcast? Hopefully the former, tbh, but we’ll do as Nat says and hang tight for now.
In the meantime, we’re busy following another rumored Love is Blind couple: Kyle and Deepti. Between teasing their relationship on social media and sightings around Chicago, this duo is certainly up to something. But the internet is questioning if that something is love or a desire for more publicity.
Let’s start from the beginning. At the reunion, in a move literally no one saw coming, Kyle declared he wished he had proposed to Deepti in the pods. Now, the two are saying they shared a connection that didn’t make the show’s final cut. It could be the producers didn’t think their connection was necessary to the story, or perhaps this is their attempt to add validity to a relationship that seemingly came out of nowhere. Funnily enough, the two were spotted earlier this month getting brunch at none other than Kanela Breakfast Club. Maybe Shaina isn’t after fame and Kyle just needs to pick a new brunch spot.
The cast drama does not end there. Deepti and Shake are still making headlines together even though, in the immortal words of Taylor Swift, they are never, ever getting back together. Last week, Deepti told Nick Viall on his podcast The Viall Files (like we said, the cast is leaving no pop culture podcast out) that Shake is “posting pictures of me from back after filming had wrapped. It’s kind of like, insinuating on social media that we are amicable or that we are friends. It’s just frustrating.” We will take that to mean they are not.
With new gossip and inter-cast drama popping up daily, it begs the question: is it all for real, or is the season 2 cast making waves to parlay the show’s popularity into full-time jobs? Looking back on when Love is Blind season 1 aired in late February 2020, it was a different world. The show premiered right as we started quarantining, thinking “two weeks to flatten the curve.” (We all know how that went.) The first season’s success stories, Lauren Speed-Hamilton and Cameron Hamilton and Amber Pike and Matt Barnett, turned their love stories into full-time jobs as influencers, but the rest of the cast mostly faded from the public eye (except for Jessica, who probably wanted to). Was that bad timing, as their fame hit its zenith as the country was in full lockdown, or was the cast really just there for love? Amoroso thinks “given it’s the second season of a widely successful show, this year’s cast knew what they were getting into more than the initial season one cast.” Will Love is Blind turn into The Bachelor, a show that now feels more like a launching pad for middling influencers, rather than people on a genuine search for love? Just like the possible man in Natalie’s new life, we will have to stay tuned to see.
Images: ADAM ROSE/NETFLIX
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
Love Is Blind has returned for season two and is once again taking Netflix and the internet by storm. The reality dating show is currently trending top 2 in the U.S. on Netflix, and with the final episode now out, #LoveIsBlind is also trending on Twitter. The popular reality show revolves around 30 eligible singles talking to potential matches from a solitary room behind an opaque wall—known on the show as a “pod”—and getting engaged without ever seeing each other’s faces. As hosts Vanessa and Nick Lachey painstakingly remind us, the objective is to form a “deep emotional connection” to find out, “Is love truly blind?” A common criticism of season 1 boiled down to, “well, sure, if you’re hot and thin.” Season 2 seemed like it could have been trying to address those criticisms: the trailer depicts contestant Danielle Ruhl talking about her insecurities from growing up heavier. In the teaser, Iyanna McNeeley says, “this experiment interests me because I don’t have boobs and a butt.” And there were notably a few plus-size contestants in the pods. While season 2 gave a little more in the way of body diversity, was it enough?
Season 1 of Love Is Blind came out in February 2020 and by that April, had been watched by some 30 million people, but not everyone was enamored with the concept. Jerrica Tisdale noted in Screenrant in March 2020 of season 1’s cast, ““No one is overweight, no one has bad skin, and very few are different races.” She wrote, “Love Is Blind had the ability to challenge norms by going beyond the stereotypical looking cast,” but “Instead the show proved that yes, love is blind—if you fit into the standards of beauty.” Mathew Rodriguez wrote for Teen Vogue that season 1’s omission of fat people “stings of structural anti-fat bias.”
There is a stark lack of body diversity on reality TV in general, but part of the criticism toward this show specifically has to do with the fact that Love Is Blind isn’t just a reality dating show—or, at least, it doesn’t position itself that way. It’s a “social experiment” designed to explore if people can find lasting love without seeing a romantic prospect first. But experiments are supposed to reveal something, and is it much of a revelation to discover that attractive people can fall in love sight unseen, so long as the object of their affection also fits what’s typically associated with being conventionally attractive—thin, symmetrical features, non-disabled, well-groomed, etc.?
Season 2, which premiered on February 11, had a few contestants who stretched the mold of the types of bodies we usually see on reality TV, namely, Hope Antoniello-Foley, Chassidy Mickale, and Haseeb Husn. But any hope of seeing plus-size people fall in love was dashed by the end of the first episode, when they effectively faded from our screens and our memories. When all is said and done, Hope gets by far the most screen time—about 30 seconds altogether in the first episode. Chassidy gets 10 seconds. Haseeb gets to speak for three seconds, when he makes a crack to fellow contestant Nick Thompson about turning his notebook into an Excel spreadsheet.
Some Twitter users felt like the body positive message of including plus-size cast members was a bait-and-switch. “I was so excited to see plus-sized women on Love Is Blind and then we didn’t see them after the first episode,” wrote one Twitter user. “The show acts like it’s promoting body diversity but then perpetuates the idea that only skinny/fit people fall in love. Love is blind? Still seemed physical to me.”
Chris Coelen, creator and executive producer of Love Is Blind, tells Betches that Love Is Blind is not purposefully perpetuating any one ideal. “We throw the doors open to all kinds of people, and we don’t have time on the show to tell lots of stories of people who are there, but don’t ultimately make connections.” He says Hope, Chassidy, and Haseeb went away “because they didn’t find love, and if they had found love, we would tell those stories. We completely approach the show from a non-prejudicial place.”
Additionally, Coelen doesn’t necessarily agree that the show sets out to prove its own hypothesis. “The POV of the show is not love is blind, the POV of the show is, could it be?” he says. “I think it proves that the potential is there for us to love one another… but I think it’s also honest, in that there’s a lot of other factors in the world that are important to people.”
Hope Antoniello-Foley, one of the plus-size women cast in season 2, also says she wasn’t bothered by the cuts. “Even if it was a couple minutes each episode, I was very happy with what was shown for me,” she says. “They represented me, my looks that I think were shown a couple times—that’s me in general, that’s me in life.”
Kate Stayman-London, activist and author of One To Watch, a romance novel about a plus-size woman being the lead of a reality TV dating show (à la The Bachelorette), was disappointed by the cuts, however, and equally upset with the footage we did see. “What I didn’t anticipate was that the fat people on the show simply wouldn’t get to speak at all and would disappear without any interaction other than one fat woman getting to say that she doesn’t like to work out,” Stayman-London says.
That soundbite in particular reinforces harmful stereotypes, she says. “It is implying that any person who is fat is that because they choose to be fat, and they’re lazy. And if they would just get off their butt and go for a run or eat a vegetable once in a while, that they wouldn’t have to be fat anymore.” In fact, there was a reason Antoniello-Foley wasn’t working out around the time Love Is Blind filmed. “I had just lost 40 pounds,” she says. “I was at a calorie deficit.” She was walking a lot and “eating really clean.”
And for a show whose premise is moving past the physical, there were a number of discussions revolving around weight loss in season 2 of Love Is Blind. In the first episode, Danielle Ruhl tells Nick Thompson about how she lost 70 pounds. She says, “but now every single interaction I have with someone I’m afraid they’re gonna be like, ‘oh her arms look big here’ or ‘her stomach looks big here.’”
“I’m sure that’s painful and uncomfortable for her,” says Stayman-London, adding, “What a shitty thing to say, to say that your fear in dating is that someone might see you as looking like the way that most women look.” (The average woman in America is a size 16 or 18.)
Meanwhile, Antoniello-Foley says that she was inspired to apply for the show after getting discouraged with how shallow dating apps can be. “I think too many times men want this, you know, tall blonde or this stick thin woman. And that’s not the norm. And I think we need to change that a little.”
A big reality TV fan, Antoniello-Foley knows that most of the contestants she sees on the other reality TV shows she watches (The Bachelor, Are You The One?, Love Island) are thin—but Love Is Blind felt like an opportunity for her to participate in a show like this anyway. “I’m not sure I would have the confidence to go apply to The Bachelorette—or if I did, I feel as if they’ve got a body type that I may not even been moved to the next round because of that, whereas applying to Love Is Blind, that’s the whole concept,” she says.
“It’s no secret that a lot of reality television and particularly where romance plots are involved don’t tend to have a lot of diversity, and particularly not when it comes to inclusive body representation,” Stayman-London says. “Two thirds of women in America wear size 14 and above, but you are almost never going to see women wearing those sizes, or men, for that matter, on almost any of these shows.”
When Antonio-Foley was ultimately cast on Love Is Blind, even the “blind” part of the “social experiment” didn’t shield her from insecurities, knowing the typical make-up of a reality TV cast. “What if they were to compare me to the other 15 Girls? What would the guy—if I ended up with somebody—be like, ‘Oh, well, I think so-and-so’s prettier. She’s skinnier.”
Love Is Blind season 2 isn’t the first time a reality dating show’s treatment of body insecurities has left fans feeling underwhelmed. A January 2022 episode of The Bachelor, in which a group of thin, conventionally attractive women read aloud their body insecurities on a group date, was met with criticism since the show has yet to cast a plus-size woman as either a lead or even a contestant. (Also, immediately after the group date, Bachelor Clayton Echard went on a one-on-one in which he and Sarah had to strip down to their underwear. Talk about mixed messages.)
“I think we’re making progress,” says Antoniello-Foley nonetheless of body diversity on reality TV—and Stayman-London has a good guess why.
“I think one of the biggest tricks that’s been played on fat people is to feel ashamed and to feel like you don’t deserve to demand what you want and what you want to see,” she says. But when viewers speak up—whether about representation or racism—networks seem to be listening.
“I think what we’re seeing now is some real changes, seeing more and more fat people speak up and say, ‘hey, it’s bullshit that I can’t turn on my television and see more people who look like me.’ We are seeing that change much, much more than we had before. And hopefully, we’ll start to see it change in a really dramatic way going forward.
Antoniello-Foley hopes her Love Is Blind journey, however brief, encourages women who might not fit the typical reality TV mold to go after their dreams—on-screen or otherwise. “ I want to change that mentality and be that voice for females that feel confident enough in who they are to apply,” she says.
While Love Is Blind has a way to go in becoming an experiment for people of all sizes, it’s worth noting that the whole premise may be a bit of a misnomer. The Merchant of Venice quote from which the phrase derives goes, “But love is blind, and lovers cannot see / The pretty follies that themselves commit.” It has less to do with emotional feelings overcoming initial physical attraction and more to do with people in love ignoring red flags or not realizing their own irrational behavior. As far as that interpretation goes, the show definitely proves that’s the case—and that type of blindness can affect people of any size, not just the couples we follow on shows like Love Is Blind.
Image: Ser Baffo/Netflix
Netflix wants us to believe they created the secret recipe to lasting love on Love Is Blind—lasting love found on a reality show, that is. But not every duo on the second season of Netflix’s reality dating show will last the test of time. Here are our official rankings of which couples have what it takes to make it to the altar and past the end of the reunion. Mild spoilers ahead if you haven’t started the series, but like, catch up.
Shaina and Kyle
We can’t lie, we’re seeing a perfect future for these two. White picket fence, golden retriever, 2.5 kids, the full American Dream, y’all! Just kidding. You have to really not be feeling someone to leave an all-expenses-paid trip to Mexico, but that’s just what Shaina did. Netflix even gave Shaina her own hotel room and she still chose to leave—in her bathrobe, no less.
Kyle did not give up, though, and even went to meet Shaina’s family before she officially broke things off because he wasn’t “godly” enough for her. There is no hope of reconciliation for these two. So, ladies of Chicago, if you’re looking for a burly man who is willing to put differing religious views aside, probably to his own detriment, Kyle’s DMs are open.
Mallory and Salvador
Sallory, Malvador, there are so many great couple names for these two. But that’s about all they’ve got. In the pods, Mallory chose Sal over Jarrette. But after accepting Sal’s proposal, things went downhill. Upon meeting face-to-face, Mallory was not attracted to Sal and we all felt it, even Sal.
In Mexico, things got awkward when Jarrette and Mallory saw each other for the first time. Sal saw the sparks fly between his fiancée and another man, but Mallory assured Sal that she wanted him. And we really want to believe Mallory. But no matter how many times Sal pulls out the ukulele, this just ain’t it. We don’t see these two saying yes at the altar—or, rather, we don’t see one of them saying yes. Mallory can’t keep lying to herself that Sal is the one. And love might be blind, but Sal is not. And he can see his fiancée does not want to marry him.
Shayne and Natalie
They do say opposites attract, and it is very safe to say these two are opposites. Shayne’s limitless enthusiasm is an interesting match to Natalie’s quiet wit, but they saw something we’re not sure we did.
Post-proposal, they quickly worked through some communication issues. Shayne’s love language is clearly words of affirmation, so Natalie learned she must vocalize how hot she thinks Shayne is several times a day. Back in the real world, they also faced the wrath of Shaina, who tried, unsuccessfully, to tear them apart. Jessica who?
Obstacles have been overcome, but do they have what it takes to make it long-term? We give them a soft maybe. Shayne is a puppy who needs constant attention and Natalie gives off cat lady vibes with her sarcastic humor. We want these two to prove us wrong, but while opposites attract, they don’t necessarily sustain lifelong partnerships.
Nick and Danielle
First off, let’s all give Nick a round of applause for being the gossip of the season. This man loves to spill tea, and we are here for it. But now to the couple.
Nick and Danielle were the first proposal we watched in the pods. He was awkward and nerdy. She opened up about her body issues and anxieties. It was beautiful. But shortly after consummating their engagement in Mexico—in Nick’s words, “twice, in three different places”— their issues started. Danielle’s omnipresent anxieties and trust issues, Nick’s need for control, and an 8-year age gap led to many a tough conversation.
Nick wants to stay in and alphabetize his DVDs. Danielle is too young to own DVDs. But even with their differences, these two dweebs really love each other. We could see a future for them, if they continue to compromise and work on their trust issues. But, judging by his grimace and sweat levels, there is a strong possibility Nick says no at the altar, and Danielle goes home alone to her closet full of food-themed costumes.
Jarrette and Iyanna
No one wants to come in second. And Iyanna was technically Jarrette’s second choice after Mallory turned him down. But we must move past that because these two get an A+ in chemistry. They can’t keep their hands off each other. They’re playful. And we’ve watched them work through some tough issues and have some raw conversations.
However, at home, the differences in their personalities emerged. Iyanna wants to stay in binging shows and cuddling on the couch. And Jarrette wants to go out, like really go out. But Jarrette, hear us when we say, no one needs to go out until 3am three times a week. Who has the stamina for that?
If Jarrette can stop living his bachelor lifestyle and Iyanna can get past Jarrette’s initial connection with Mallory, their love will carry them to their wedding day and beyond. We have high hopes for a long-lasting love affair here.
Shake and Deepti
Somebody give the Love Is Blind producers an Emmy for their editing of Shake. He was impossible to like at first. Somehow, he found a way to ask every woman her body size within the first five minutes of meeting them in the pods. Sir, the show is called Love Is Blind. Literally, go on any other dating show if you want to see a woman’s body before proposing.
But Deepti—Deeps, as Shake calls her—tore down his walls. And with the help of Deeps, Shake had more character development in the pods than Harry Potter did in all seven books.
Their initial face-to-face meeting was powerful. Shake grabbed Deeps’ ass and she was here for it. But then something changed. Shake loves this woman. She pushes him to be better, supports his career ambitions, makes him laugh, but—as he literally will not stop telling people, on camera no less—he is not physically attracted to her. And Deeps, who is literally oozing confidence and sex appeal, wants to be wanted. She wants a man that will grab her ass within five seconds of seeing each other for the first time. As should anyone!
Very hot take incoming, but I think these two can figure it out, they just need to get a little weird together: invest in some toys, try a little role play. They are built to last and will figure out how to figure each other out in the bedroom—or out of the bedroom. Get weird, you two!
Vanessa and Nick Lachey
We know they didn’t meet in the pods, but they are a couple on the show so it’s fair game. The Lacheys are completely unnecessary to the show; Love Is Blind doesn’t need one host, let alone two, for the audience to understand what’s going on. This is evidenced by the fact that Nick and Vanessa are shown like, four times the whole season just to reiterate that the premise is, in fact, “To prove if love is really blind!”
But in the combined seven-and-a-half minutes of screentime, we got what we needed to believe in their love story. It could also be argued their decade-long marriage and three children are enough proof of their successful love story. Again, we must repeat that they are totally unnecessary to the show, but we are here for the Lacheys! So, we hope they take this Netflix paycheck to the bank and live happily ever after.
Images: AARÓN ORTEGA (2), Patrick Wymore/NETFLIX; Courtesy of Netflix