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Netflix's 'Live' Love Is Blind Reunion Was a Disaster in More Ways Than One

A 75-minute delay and Nick and Vanessa Lachey's hosting deficiencies made for a brutal evening of television.
  • Kwame Appiah and Chelsea Griffin during the Love Is Blind reunion (Photo: Netflix)
    Kwame Appiah and Chelsea Griffin during the Love Is Blind reunion (Photo: Netflix)

    Love may be blind, but it definitely isn't live. On Sunday night, Netflix publicly embarrassed itself when technical issues delayed the Love Is Blind Season 4 reunion — the streaming service's second-ever live event — by more than an hour. The lengthy delay, and the accompanying ridicule from the likes of Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, Hulu, and even Blockbuster, rendered the reunion itself an afterthought, as the cast and hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey struggled to recover after the live-streaming meltdown.

    The live reunion was scheduled to begin at 8:00 PM ET/5:00 PM PT, but as the clock struck the hour, an error message appeared for many users, while others remained on the holding screen. Two minutes after the scheduled kickoff time, Netflix tweeted that the reunion would be delayed by 15 minutes; that proved to be false advertising, as it wasn't until nearly 9:30 PM ET that Netflix announced that due to an issue with the livestream, it would be filming the reunion and releasing it later Sunday.

    But the technical glitches didn't end there: Some viewers (including this reviewer) were able to watch the reunion live as it was taped, while others weren't able to access it until it landed on Netflix after the fact. At first, neither the streamer nor the Lacheys seemed to realize the livestream was actually working for certain users, as Vanessa opened the reunion by apologizing for the 75-minute delay and acknowledging, "We are no longer live." Those watching on the live feed bore witness to a series of flubs, including Vanessa calling out a hot mic in the control room and crackling feedback from the speakers.

    If producers adjusted the structure of the show in response to the delay — not to mention the mounting frustration among viewers, many of whom gave up after an hour to watch Succession — you wouldn't know it from the first few segments. The reunion began with a Q&A with Tiffany Pennywell and Brett Brown, the season's most stable couple, who discussed their time in the pods and Brett's pre-wedding photoshoot. What was positioned as a dramatic confrontation between Micah Lussier, Chelsea Griffin, and Kwame Appiah, who found themselves in a love triangle in the pods before Micah chose Paul Peden, was handled with emotional maturity by all parties. Kwame took ownership for his behavior and apologized to Chelsea's family, while Chelsea forgave Micah for her uncomfortable encounter with Kwame in Mexico. "We were strong [before], but if anything this whole thing made us even stronger," Chelsea said of the Micah debacle.

    Later, the segment put rumors that Kwame paid a woman to play his sister Barbara to rest. "She's just that good of a sister! She really is a fairy godmother," said Chelsea. She also revealed that Kwame's mother, who objected to their relationship and refused to attend the wedding, has since embraced her "with open arms."

    When Season 4 villain Irina Solomonova joined the reunion, she apologized for her mean girl behavior and for "bullying" other women in the pods. Irina also acknowledged that she "belittled" her fiancé, Zack Goytowski, explaining she was "going through a lot mentally" at the time, but when the Lacheys gave Zack an opportunity to respond, he insisted viewers only saw "10 percent" of how poorly she treated him. "If we're real, you went on this show to get famous," he said. "But look, I forgive you."

    "I genuinely, 100 percent forgive you, Irina. I really don't hold anything against you," said Zack. "There's so many people that want to attack the cast on this show. You have no idea — everybody who made a mistake on this show, it has been punishment enough for the entire world to see them at their worst. Trust me, Irina, Micah, everybody here — we all did something stupid. I 100 percent forgive you, Irina. I really believe, Irina, that you will become an amazing person one day. I believe that. I forgive you for what happened, and I hope the world does, too."

    The Irina-Zack-Bliss Poureetezadi conflict made for the most interesting part of the reunion, and while the Lacheys haven't traditionally been the best reunion hosts, Vanessa did challenge Irina's attempt to shift blame to producers who wanted her to continue with the experiment despite her hesitations. Meanwhile, Nick's deficiencies as a host were on full display in this segment: He interrupted Vanessa while she was cross-examining Irina and instead threw the discussion over to Bliss, who was blindsided when Zack broke up with her to pursue Irina. Bliss was clear that she would prefer not to be discussing Irina — "I'm willing to address it now, and I really don't want to talk about it much further, because I just don't care any more" — so the discussion came to an abrupt halt, despite there being ample room for further exploration.

    The Love Is Blind reunion continued with a rehash of Micah and Paul's wedding day, which ended when Paul said "I do not" at the altar. (Though the two revealed they attempted to continue their relationship, but broke up shortly thereafter.) Micah said she was "blindsided" by Paul telling the cameras he couldn't envision her as a mother, and when she demanded answers from Paul, Zack got involved. He insisted that off camera, Micah told the other women she didn't plan on marrying Paul, an accusation that fell flat when Tiffany and Chelsea failed to corroborate his story.

    While Jackelina Bonds and Josh Demas weren't at the reunion, they sat down for a Zoom interview with Vanessa that played towards the end of the special. Jackie clarified that she broke up with fiancé Marshall Glaze before she got together with Josh, her second choice in the pods, and she explained that she's grown a lot since filming wrapped one year ago. Despite her strong showing earlier, Vanessa failed to meet the moment here: Rather than push Jackie to go deep on her relationship with Marshall, she asked when Jackie knew Josh was "the one" and made jokes about the dangers of drinking on an empty stomach. There was a lot happening in the reaction box in the bottom-left corner, as both Marshall and Kwame visibly raised their eyebrows at Vanessa's bag-fumbling.

    If there's one positive takeaway from the live format, it's that delaying the reunion until after the finale aired gave the Lacheys room to ask about specific controversies that have emerged in recent days, including Kwame's "fake" sister and Marshall's relationship with another cast member, Kacia Clark. These moments made for compelling television, but there weren't nearly enough of them to compensate for the momentum lost in the 75-minute-plus delay. When that momentum did begin to build, the Lacheys squashed it by focusing on the wrong things or refusing to let the drama unfold organically, something Andy Cohen, TV's reigning reunion host, does so well.

    Like Netflix's first live TV venture, Chris Rock: Selective Outrage, the Love Is Blind Season 4 reunion could just have easily been pre-taped. (And for many, it will feel as if it was recorded, as Netflix will likely edit the microphone awkwardness out of the final cut.) After two failed outings, Netflix should take a long, hard look at its live TV strategy and determine whether it's truly worth continuing down this road. If the 2024 Screen Actors Guild Awards, the service's next-scheduled live event, prove to be a disaster, Netflix just may lose the Streaming Wars altogether.

    Love Is Blind Season 4 is now streaming on Netflix. Join the discussion about the show in our forums.

    Claire Spellberg Lustig is the Senior Editor at Primetimer and a scholar of The View. Follow her on Twitter at @c_spellberg.

    TOPICS: Love Is Blind, Netflix, Nick Lachey, Vanessa Lachey