The Netflix dating reality show is like other married-at-reality-show-gunpoint series: "a combination of extreme structure and the total absence of structure," says Kathryn VanArendonk. She adds that "even given the highly constrained setup of Love Is Blind’s opening episodes, the total experience of watching the series feels like that cliché about building an airplane while you’re flying it. Nick and Vanessa Lachey show up at the start to explain the rules of the series, but there are no details about how any of this will work. Everything is hand-wavy vagueness." Following the Season 1 finale, Love Is Blind will face a conundrum for future seasons, says VanArendonk. "The show will run smoother next time," she adds. "Producers will figure out how to make those early pod dates more interesting, and the format-free slide of the later episodes will get tighter and more organized. Participants will have a better sense of what they’re getting into, and viewers will go into the season with a model for how all of this is going to play out, so they can anticipate exciting moments like the wedding breakups, or the first time the whole group comes together post-pod. If they’re smart, producers will also learn from this first season to push the basic premise of the show to more interesting places. What if they cast people who don’t look like the cast members of every other dating show, for instance? That future knowledge will be a benefit for Love Is Blind, but it will also be a huge detraction. Reality shows are designed; they have formats for a reason, and expert manipulation of that design is one of the pleasures of the genre. Love Island became a much, much better show in the U.K. once both participants and audiences knew what they were getting into, and the weakness of the U.S. version was in part because no one knew what to expect. At the same time, there’s an unrepeatable and undeniable delight to a reality show where no one knows what the deal is...Sure, Love Is Blind will try. It’ll mix up the structure, and it’ll prod participants into different decisions. Like every other dating show, it’ll find new ways to be new. But you can never get back the exact same magic of that first sloppy season because the magic comes from the mess."
Love Is Blind is Netflix's Frankenstein’s monster of trash TV: "Love Is Blind is, undeniably, wildly addictive – as you would expect of a show that combines some of the most controversial reality concepts of the last 20 years with the data and resources of the world’s most powerful streaming platform," says Elle Hunt. "Take the close confines and body-con of Love Island, the sensorial restriction of Dating in the Dark, the shonky pseudoscience of Naked Attraction, the prom-y pageantry of The Bachelor franchise and the stakes of Married at First Sight. Throw in Nick and Vanessa Lachey as hosts and a group of extremely free-feeling Americans (some with acoustic guitars) and you have Love Is Blind. No wonder you can’t look away – Netflix has its Frankenstein’s monster of trash TV. In a crowded field, Love Is Blind is reality television at its most compelling and its most repellent; an unparalleled push-pull of programming that you can hardly bring yourself to watch through splayed fingers. For eight straight hours."
More than anything, Love Is Blind is about the imaginative, projective powers of love: "It’s a testimony to being able to see what you want when there isn’t much else to see," says Tracy Clark-Flory. "It reveals how remarkably easy it is, given the right circumstances, to dream oneself into forever. Again and again in its opening episodes, Love Is Blind shows us a person in a room by themselves falling in love—and the real question is: with what or whom, exactly? Of course, the solitary setup is supposed to allow participants to fall in love with the essential core of another human being. But over the course of a few days and mere hours spent together, viewers see people in this reality-TV pressure cooker swoon at humdrum intimacies. In the real world, winning traits are often wishfully imagined within attractive packages. In the pods, basic compatibilities and charm expand into the stratosphere of 'soulmate.'"
Love Is Blind offers sympathy for "the player": "Everybody hates the f*ckboy," says Daniel Schroeder. "Known at other times as the player, the cad, or the rake, the f*ckboy is an archetype of the dating world, often seen as a manipulator of emotions who uses others for his own pleasure. The f*ckboy isn’t interested in the future, or even really the outside world. He looks at everything external as a tool for sating his own immediate desires, rather than recognizing the humanity of the people he’s using. At least that’s how I’ve always understood it, until I watched Love Is Blind."
What it's like to date on Love Is Blind: "We were dating 16 plus hours a day. So you know, it’s a lot of conversation to have," says Cameron. "I actually enjoyed it this way, because I feel like in the real world you waste so much time," adds Lauren. "Some people don’t even talk about stuff like that years into the relationship, which is crazy to me. I was happy to put everything out in the first couple of dates. This is me, take it or leave it."