If Married At First Sight and Love Island had a baby, it'd look a lot like Love Is Blind, our latest Netflix obsession.
The three-week event series kicked off last week, with the streaming giant dropping the first five episodes of the reality TV dating experiment that puts the age-old question to the test (and the question host Vanessa Lachey loves to rhetorically ask): Is love really blind? Yes, Love Is Blind, which hails from the same production company behind Married At First Sight, Seven Year Switch and many of your other guilty pleasure series, asked singles in Atlanta to sign up for the ultimate relationship experiment, seeing if they could get engaged to someone before ever seeing what they look like.
And guess what? Six couples did just that by the end of the first portion of the experiment, with the engaged couples heading off to enjoy a romantic vacation in Mexico to celebrate their impending weddings in just four weeks.
Alas, one couple didn't even make it to the end of the pre-honeymoon, and there's now five couples left to find out if love is blind and if you can find the love of your life sight unseen in the next batch of episodes that dropped at midnight.
Naturally, binge-watchers and reality TV lovers couldn't get enough of the series, and had a lot of questions about how the dating process actually worked on the show prior to the proposals. So we decided to get Love Is Blind creator Chris Coelen on the phone to answer all of our burning questions about the cast, the dating process, and, you know, all of those other singles who seemingly didn't find love in the pods...
What did the cast actually know about the show and the concept when they signed up?
Basically, they knew what they were signing up for: an experiment to test whether or not you could fall in love based purely on an emotional connection. But were they told they had to propose and make it to the altar if they did form a connection with someone?
"I think that it's important to say there were no expectations, no one had to do anything," Coelen stressed. "The decisions they made were all theirs, completely theirs. It's very different than a show like Married At First Sight, where it's like, 'Hey, if you're signing up you are going to marry a stranger.' This was not that at all."
He continued, "The goal is try to find someone that is there for the same reason, they want to be loved for who they are. If you do, the idea is that over the course of the time you are there, if you genuinely fall in love, it might be the person you ask to spend the rest of your life with. And they knew that, and they knew that if they found someone they would get engaged sight unseen, that was part of the deal and that they would have a wedding date that would be set four weeks later."
How long was the initial run of filming, before the proposals and first looks?
The cast spent 10 days in the pods.
And how many people were actually picked to go into the dating pods in the beginning?
While viewers didn't mean a lot of them, Coelen revealed 40-50 hopefuls were part of the initial cast. But over the course of the 10-day period, some singles were let go.
"It became evident as the process went on, from that big group of people, that there were some people that more people were gravitating towards then others," Coelen revealed. "There was a certain point where we did a whittling down of people just to focus internally on the people who were really connecting, to allow them more time. We ended up having maybe 20-25 people in the pods at that point."
How were the dates set up during the pod portion of filming?
To kick things off, producers set up a speed-dating style rotation, with everyone spending 8-10 minutes with each person of the opposite sex.
"In the beginning, just from a practical standpoint, we have to give them certain time limits just so we can them through and they have a chance to talk to everyone...where they just got to know each other."
From there, there were no limitations put on who you could talk to, when you could talk to them and for how long, as long as a production intermediary set it up as they were unable to communicate with each other outside of the pods.
"They were allowed to talk to anyone at any time that they wanted to. They chose the people they wanted to talk to," said Coelen. "Over the course of time, they got to spend a lot more time with a lot of people. That time got longer and longer as it went on. Ultimately, they could talk as long as they wanted as they got down toward the end of it."
In fact, Coelen said many of the stars often chose to talk into "the wee hours of the morning," forgoing sleep to spend more time together, saying, "people around the clock [were] just talking with one another."
With six couples getting engaged, that means about half of that whittled down group didn't remain on the show. What happened?
Ready to have your mind blown? More couples actually got engaged in the pods! And then production chose not to follow their journey!
"Originally, we wanted to follow five couples if we had the chance to do that, we ended up following six," Coelen said. "We felt like we wanted to tell diverse stories frankly. We weren't sure where the stories were going to go, everybody felt like they truly found the person they wanted to spend their life with and we had an abundance of story...we just didn't have time in the show to follow them, which is incredible to me."
Why did they decide to set the first season in Atlanta?
While it wasn't explicitly stated in the beginning of the series, every single that took part in the experiment was based in Atlanta. But the decision to set the inaugural season in the Atlanta city was purely a practical one.
"Look, Atlanta has a great production support system. Atlanta, we've worked in a bunch in the past but not relatively recently," Coelen explained. "Atlanta has one of the largest stages [Pinewood] in the US…we put the pods because it's one of the most massive sets that I've ever seen. We needed that kind of space, to be honest, there's very few places you can go. There were practical considerations as much as any creative considerations."
Like Married at First Sight, future seasons would likely be set in different cities.
Was the show inspired by Married At First Sight?
Sort of. Coelen admitted Love Is Blind was "a culmination of things we've learned on many different relationship shows" the production company, Kinetic Content, has done. But they wanted to take things even further by having the couples form genuine emotional connections long before exchanging vows.
The genesis of the idea was the idea that everybody wants to be loved for who they are. It's a universal thing," Coelen said. "One of the ways that relationships go wrong has to do with many surface things. Generally, the success of relationships have to do with the emotional bond people have and a lot of people talk about how they want to marry their best friend. We liked the idea that if you started with pure love that was focused on just who that person was could that love stand the test of time and survive the outside world, especially in a time where there is so much going on in that outside world."
Four new episodes of Love Is Blind just dropped on Feb. 20 and the finale premieres on Netflix on Thursday, Feb. 27.