It begins with the beats of Katy Perry’s Unconditionally. We’re treated to close ups of happy, smiley, beautiful people slow walking down a bright, beautifully clean corridor.
opes are raised. The pods are open. It’s time to find your match.
Viewers, Love is Blind is back for round two.
Our regular TV watcher Billy is away which means the Weekend team gets to come clean (like a cheating politician caught out by the tabloids) about its love for reality broadcasting, and in particular, a series where singletons aim to find love through… mere conversation.
A ramped up version of Blind Date but with a lot of more sexy talk.
No Cilla, alas, but we’ve got Nick and Vanessa Lachey. He’s grand, but he’s no Graham.
Anyone who’s ever been on a first date will remember making cringey small talk when the person you’re trying to charm is right beside you.
Surely we’d all fare better when armed with a notebook and pen and separated by frosted glass (scatter cushions optional extras though many contestants opt for clinging to them while relating a personal story heightened by musical crescendos).
The 14 men and women are done with modern dating. Same, we say. Bring back Jane Austen and turns around the room when you want to talk about which Regency gent you fancy.
Yet the contestants — and I use that word because it is a sort of game show, isn’t it, to ‘win’ at love — are prepared to propose to someone they’ve never laid eyes on.
But back to the notebook. I am beyond fascinated by their diary entries. Those participating write lots of notes, and it’s a pity we don’t get to see what’s on the page. Is it a shopping list? Milk, bread, oranges, finding my soul mate, discover who H is in Line of Duty?
“Have you ever been in love?” asks one wedding wannabe.
“How about a name, and then we can ask,” replies his first date.
I’m not a relationship expert, but I’m not buying a hat just yet.
Step forward consultant Natalie, who is our kind of reality contestant.
She burns her forehead with hair straighteners then liberally applies make-up… before commenting what’s the point if the menfolk can’t see them.
Exactly. In an age of Zoom meetings, everyone knows you only dress appropriately from the waist up. Pyjama bottoms are still trousers.
But this is reality TV, where You Must Be Catwalk Ready At All Times. And for all their talk about ‘connection’ being ‘not about the physical’, no one is in a unicorn onesie and Chip from Beauty and the Beast slippers. Or what I call, Sunday attire.
Natalie comments on dating a guy who wore denim shorts and she fretted that it wouldn’t go well because of their differing dress styles. She probably isn’t a onesie fan.
She clicks with real estate agent Shayne. He sounds keen. She put a star by his name from a previous chat (in her notebook!), wanting to continue their conversation.
Shayne likes ‘her energy’. There’s a lot of chat around the legitimacy of tooting your own horn, in this case in terms of business success. For anyone thinking otherwise, that’s another kind of show and there’s plenty of that online.
But Natalie has a love rival with Shaina, a 31-year-old hairdresser who regularly gives Shayne a rundown of her daily outfit. There’s a lot of matching items.
“Honestly, I don’t want a ten. You don’t want all the other women after your man,” she says matter of factly about choosing her perfect man. Except that’s how the show works, and it’s quickly shown to be a two-horse race for Shayne’s affections. Poor Shayne is confused: Shaina is playful, Natalie is serious. He wants to ‘see the process out.’ What does he do?
Well, makes a fool of himself and ‘sees the process’ out the door. When Natalie settled down on her sofa — having already said to camera how much she’s willing to invest in this relationship — Shayne strolls in, asks who he’s speaking to and when questioned as to his hopes, answers with, ‘Shaina… Ooh, that’s who I was hoping for.’
Cue a very sad Natalie and a million women screaming at their screens.
When you think it couldn’t get any worse, Shayne deflects by stating Natalie is talking to other men too, so what’s her problem? Doesn’t he have her name in a heart on the front cover of his notebook?
See, I knew those notebooks would be important.
After a bit of a man huff, he decides he’s had enough and he’s ‘bouncing.’
Unlike Billy, we’ll watch as many shows as we can of a series so know that, like Tigger, Shayne makes a return to the pods.
We’re not convinced that Love is Blind but it’s definitely gripping.