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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

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The Oldest College Weekly in America. Founded 1868.

The Colgate Maroon-News

Should We Be Watching ‘Love Is Blind’?

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Graphic: McKenna Dalton

In a world overflowing with options for getting your reality TV fix, only one show offers the unbeatable combination of genuine romantic connection, interpersonal drama and internet lore: Netflix’s “Love Is Blind.” The premise of having 30 men and women date and get engaged without seeing one another in connected rooms they call the “pods” is captivating. The show’s sixth season released its first six episodes on Valentine’s Day, with the rest of the season’s 13 total episodes coming out in the following four weeks.

After vowing that I wouldn’t watch, as I was deeply disappointed by an underwhelming season five, I opened my TikTok ‘For You’ page and was once again sucked in. If you’ve seen anything from “Love Is Blind” season six on your own feed, you’ve seen this scene: A woman, Chelsea Blackwell, is on one side of the wall, telling the man she’s dating, Jimmy Presnell, that she looks like Megan Fox. Blackwell does, in my own opinion, bear a passing resemblance to the star, but not enough to tell a man who’s never seen her before that that’s her celebrity look alike. Even if I were actually Megan Fox, I wouldn’t tell someone I was dating that I looked like Megan Fox, so she really set herself up for failure there — I had to keep watching. I had to know what happened when they met. So, I opened Netflix and started from the beginning. I was not disappointed. 

This season is fraught with the usual drama, but the events that occurred after filming have become even more chaotic in this newest season, with more than one secret engagement and girlfriend coming out on social media. One contestant, Jeremy Lutinski, went so far as to post a statement to his Instagram account about the rumors of his being engaged prior to going on the show. Even internet-proclaimed ‘nice guy’ Trevor Sova, who was dumped by Blackwell for Presnell in the pods, had a girlfriend while participating in the show’s filming, not ending the relationship until right before the show’s airing in February 2024.

In the wake of a controversial fifth season, which resulted in two different lawsuits against Netflix and Delirium TV, production was plagued by behind-the-scenes controversy and is now facing allegations of not vetting cast members thoroughly.

One of these lawsuits was brought by season five cast member Renne Poche, who is suing Netflix and Delirium TV over the legality of her non-disclosure agreement, which the lawsuit alleges was a contract that “[gagged her] from speaking about unlawful conditions in the workplace.” The lawsuit also alleges that production forced her to spend time with then-fiancé Carter Wall even though she did not feel safe in that environment. 

Another season five participant, Tranh Dang, alleged in a lawsuit that she was sexually assaulted by fellow cast member Thomas Smith while filming and that she made producers aware of the assault, but they did nothing about it, according to Business Insider. Neither Dang nor Smith were in the show’s final cut or the cast list released prior to the season’s release. 

Season two contestant Nick Thompson has been speaking out against the show’s treatment of cast members for years. He recently started a non-profit, the Unscripted Cast Advocacy Network (UCAN), whose mission statement reads that they work “to provide support and advocacy for past, current and future unscripted television cast members, to educate the public on the conditions cast members endure before, during and after production, and to be a key player in advocating for industry change, where unscripted television is produced ethically, values the health and safety of cast, conforms to labor laws and compensates cast according to the value they help generate.” Thompson argues that he was paid less than minimum wage for his work on the show and is now on the brink of losing his home, as it’s difficult to find a job after appearing on one of the most popular reality television programs of recent years.

As these lawsuits develop and more and more issues come up outside of filming, those of us who wait on the edge of our seats for the newest “Love Is Blind” episodes to release on Wednesdays must ask ourselves: Should we still be watching? 

“Love Is Blind” is not alone in facing allegations of contestant mistreatment, as Texas Monthly reports that Poche shares a legal team with “Real Housewives” star Bethenny Frankel, who is in a similar legal battle with NBC Universal. Frankel shares Thompson’s view that reality TV stars should unionize and fight for better treatment, according to Variety

In a world following the Writers Guild of America (WGA) and SAG-AFTRA strikes, where reality TV was forced to fill a void in networks after scripted TV was put on hold, both reality TV producers — many of whom are currently not unionized — and cast members are pushing for unionization and being paid residuals from streaming revenues, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Though some shows like “Master Chef” and “Survivor” are unionized, many, like “Love Is Blind,” are not, resulting in less power for those contestants and their production teams. 

As I ponder the ethics of watching shows like “Love Is Blind,” I’m also following these lawsuits and the possibility of better representation for these contestants. They put themselves and their livelihood on the line for our entertainment. Some of them might be cringeworthy or even downright evil, but that doesn’t mean we as viewers should condone their working without adequate pay or having to give up basic safety and security while filming.

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About the Contributor
Samantha Wotring, Copy Editor
Samantha Wotring is a junior from Houston, TX concentrating in English and history. She has previously served as an Assistant News Editor and staff writer for the News and Commentary sections. On campus, she is involved in the COVE, SAT Tutors.

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