‘Love is Blind’ blinds us to reality TV’s dark side

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy reality TV, especially if they have a Netflix account.

Image by: Herbert Wang
Production companies should be keeping their cast safe.

This article discusses sexual assault and may be triggering for some readers. The Kingston Sexual Assault Centre’s 24-hour crisis and support phone line can be reached at 613-544-6424 / 1-800-544-6424. The Centre’s online chat feature can be  reached hereThe Journal uses “survivor” to refer to those who have experienced sexual assault. We acknowledge this term is not universal.

It’s hard to find someone who doesn’t enjoy reality TV, especially if they have a Netflix account.

Reality TV is addictive. It promises raw, tangible, realistic drama to get our hearts racing and keep our eyes glued to the screen. This comes as a bonus for producers, who ultimately spend less money when producing reality television compared to regular scripted soap operas.

The overall demand for reality TV has compelled production companies and streaming platforms to create reality shows with increasingly outlandish concepts to keep audiences coming back for more.

This especially applies to reality shows surrounding dating, which are arguably the most drama-heavy form of reality TV. However, with the rise of love-focused reality, controversies and the dark sides of reality TV have shown themselves, garnering heavy criticism. Netflix’s Love is Blind is a compelling example of this.

The show gathers random singles, moves them into gendered houses, removes all distractions from the outside world, and has each contestant date one another in pods where they can only hear the other person. When sparks fly between a budding couple, the bond is built on an emotional connection rather than physical attraction.

After ten days, couples who choose to get engaged­—yes, engaged—go on a honeymoon, and continue getting to know each other in the three weeks leading up to their wedding day to see if the “experiment” succeeded.

Cast members from the show’s second season complained about being underpaid and sleep-deprived when filming, while accusing the show of isolating contestants. Another contestant from season two went so far as to sue the production company responsible for Love is Blind with allegations of inhumane working conditions which consisted of 18-hour work days, no access to phones, and contestants needing permission to simply venture out of their rooms.

Since the most recent season was filmed, Love is Blind again revealed a dark side of alleged neglect, abuse, and mistreatment of the cast at the hands of the producers.

In August 2022, season five contestant Tran Dang filed a lawsuit against Love is Blind production companies Kinetic Content and Delirium TV for inhumane working conditions. In her claim, Dang alleged false imprisonment, negligence on the part of producers, and sexual assault at the hands of her fiancé on the show.

Dang alleged that over the honeymoon sponsored by the show, her then-fiancé made repeated sexual advances on her.

Dang alleged she raised her concerns to the producers, who have access to 24/7 footage and could corroborate her recounting of the events. Despite this, Dang claimed producers took no action, and she and her former fiancé were excluded from all promotional material without any notice, despite becoming engaged over the course of filming.

This unsettling information from the most recent season of Love is Blind provides a sobering reminder of the negative aspects of reality TV and the pressing need for greater awareness and support for cast members’ wellbeing when on set.

Because of the addictive nature of reality TV, producers need to keep shows fresh and sustainable, and production companies may be more willing to cross boundaries and take advantage of participants in an effort to boost ratings and keep up with consumer demand.

The concerns raised by the claims of underpayment, lack of sleep, isolation, and inhumane working circumstances highlight the need for production companies to provide their participants with a greater duty of care.

Cast members deserve to freely express their complaints and issues without worrying about the consequences. Dang’s lawsuit highlights the need for a fundamental revaluation of the industry’s ethical practices.

It’s crucial as viewers and society at large, we demand transparency, accountability, and ethical standards from production companies to ensure the safety and wellbeing of those who entertain us on our screens.

Reality TV shouldn’t come at the cost of human dignity and mental and physical health.


Dating, Love Is Blind, Netflix, reality tv

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