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Can the show Love Is Blind reveal a country's mating patterns, ranging from Sweden to Brazil, through the statement "You have a passion for interior design? Will you marry me?"
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Can the show Love Is Blind reveal a country’s mating patterns, ranging from Sweden to Brazil, through the statement “You have a passion for interior design? Will you marry me?”


I am uncertain about the amount of knowledge one can gain about the human heart from watching the dating show Love Is Blind. The show’s conservatism is perhaps the most unexpected aspect, considering its arrival in the later stages of reality TV’s existence. The premise involves individuals sitting in separate dating pods and speed dating through screens. The first time they meet face-to-face is after one has proposed marriage and the other has accepted. They proceed to go on a “honeymoon” but things typically do not go well. Out of the 23 couples from five US seasons that were filmed starting in 2018, only eight have stayed married.

The American version of the show debuted in February 2020, with one couple already married but keeping it a secret to prevent spoilers. The show became popular during the pandemic, with Netflix reporting 30 million households tuning in within four weeks of its release. It has been the most successful unscripted drama on the platform and was among the top 10 most-watched shows in the US, along with Ozark, Stranger Things, and Cocomelon.

However, it wasn’t solely due to Covid that the show was considered binge-worthy, as it also had a captive audience. The overall experience of the show, with individuals sitting in isolated pods and going on micro-dates with partners they could only hear but not see, mirrored the dating scene during that time. With physical touch being restricted, the show’s portrayal of 0 to 60 intimacy without physical contact reflected the reality of dating during the pandemic.

In 2024, the Swedish version is expected to be released. This is fitting as all the previous conditions will have passed by then. Unlike other countries, Sweden did not implement strict lockdown measures. However, despite the lack of restrictions, they seem to struggle with finding romantic partners. According to Statistics Sweden, the majority of the population lives in single-occupancy households without children, which puzzles the rest of the EU. Is this due to a lack of love or simply because they can afford to live alone? Regardless, there are plenty of Swedes searching for love, as seen in the popular show Love Is Blind.

United by an interest in rocks … Lydia and Milton marry in the US version.View image in fullscreen

The effectiveness of using a high-concept reality TV show to learn about love and relationships is up for debate. However, one can gain insight into societal expectations of romance through such a format. Love Is Blind: Japan did not continue after its first season due to its lack of intense emotions. There was no scandalous bed-hopping that made other versions captivating. However, the issue was not a lack of promiscuity, but rather the participants’ ability to handle their emotions with dignity and hide their anger. In other words, it reflected real life, making it a sophisticated dating show that appealed to connoisseurs, but not to the mass audience.

Comparing contestants from Sweden and the United States is similar to comparing two restaurants, one in Stockholm and one in Los Angeles. In the Swedish restaurant, you would be politely served by straightforward individuals who understand that you are there because you are hungry. In the American restaurant, you would be asked multiple times if you are having a great day before even sitting down, and then encouraged to have a great time and enjoy your meal by an overly enthusiastic server who is crouching next to you and pointing out items on the menu that you can read for yourself. Admittedly, it has been a while since I have been to Los Angeles and I did not visit any upscale establishments, so my comparison is mainly based on my experience at a burger joint. But you get the idea.

Axed … Love Is Blind: Japan was seen as insufficiently promiscuous.View image in fullscreen

In the world of US dating, the focus is on being enthusiastic and showcasing an infectious self-confidence, while in Sweden, sincerity and a practical sense of poetry take precedence. Swedes connect through a shared appreciation for interior design and deep, introspective moments. Americans ignite each other’s passions when they discover that their drive and aspirations align. I don’t quite understand it, because they are all inherently driven and ambitious. It’s like bonding over having fingernails.

Having shared interests is important, but they should be unique. Milton and Lydia are the only couple still together from season five of the American version of the show. Their first encounter was a memorable one, as he shared his passion for microscopes and she revealed her love for rocks as a geologist while he was an engineer. Initially, Lydia dismissed Milton due to their five-year age difference. However, it’s a shame because it’s rare to find a man who would openly discuss topics like banded gneiss on a first date. Fortunately, she changed her mind and their relationship seems to be thriving.

Rasmus and Krisse-Ly, on the other hand, discovered a shared passion for interior design: she is currently studying it while he has a genuine interest in it. Surprisingly, they ended up getting married based on this common ground, but I believe it may be more of a trial marriage. Krisse-Ly was projecting her desires onto him excessively. After just a short conversation, she concluded that he was much more skilled than he let on. However, how can you be sure, Krisse? How do you know he’s not actually worse at things than he appears? During their first extended encounter in real life, he struggled publicly with his attraction to her, which caused significant backlash on social media. Clearly, solid foundations are crucial for a lasting relationship, but furniture may not be as important.

The ways in which individuals discuss and behave regarding sex vary greatly among different countries. The American version of the show, which has changed over time, follows a similar path as the original UK version. The initial season was filled with novelty, while the second attempted to replicate it but resulted in artificiality and disorder. Each subsequent season improved upon and refined this formula.

Across the divide … the dating pods.

Display the image in full screen mode.

However, a common theme throughout is a willingness to openly discuss and be specific about sex. This includes discussing what sounds one makes during sex and one’s proficiency in oral sex. The Swedish version, on the other hand, seems more reserved in this regard. Participants may even express the importance of intimacy to them and shyly inquire about each other’s sleeping habits. In a bold move, Karolina gives Lucas a pair of her underwear, but he rejects her, causing tension between them. This rejection seems to be linked to Karolina not taking sex seriously enough if she is casually giving away her underwear.

In the Brazilian version of Love Is Blind, the male contestants show their excitement after having sex by gathering on their balconies and howling like wolves. This behavior has earned the country a reputation for being sexist. However, I’m not sure if sexism is the right term to describe it. The howling highlighted the main issue that many people had with Love Is Blind: Brazil – the women were portrayed as strong and admirable, while the men were portrayed as repulsive pigs, creating a stark contrast that led some to believe it was scripted. However, producers have denied these claims and instead blame the casting process.

Sergio in Sweden experiences intense emotions towards Amanda and eventually marries her, which surprises him. One moment, he confidently announces to the other men that he is going to “masturbate like a …” (although it is unclear what he means by this). However, the next moment he becomes upset when Amanda reveals that she was bullied for her scoliosis. Milan, another contestant, criticizes her for being immature and cruel. Dating in Sweden seems to be challenging as individuals are expected to express their emotions openly, but they are not allowed to have frivolous or negative feelings. It is no surprise that they are all still single.

Caused outrage with its wild sexism … the hosts of Love Is Blind: Brazil.View image in fullscreen

It is extremely heteronormative, surpassing even Love Island, requiring a narrow-minded, idealistic certainty that leaves no room for any gray areas. And, the stakes are incredibly high, with all participants expected to be prepared to make a lifelong commitment at a moment’s notice. It follows the logic of a 1930s movie or a Nevil Shute novel: if there is a respectable gentleman and lady, both morally pure and not mentally unstable, then why should they not spend the rest of their lives together?

However, they are all navigating through the events of the 2020s, therefore placing a great emphasis on sex in their relationship goals. At the same time, the consideration of physicality is not given any importance in the process of choosing a partner. The way these conflicting choices are perceived by others is a telling reflection of societal norms and values.

So when Love Is Blind: UK drops later this year – presented by Emma and Matt Willis (she’s off Big Brother, he was in Busted and they’re married, which is the form) – we can expect our horrific national visage to be reflected back at us, while we all pile in to be mean to a bunch of kids just trying to get laid. That’s the hope, anyway.

Source: theguardian.com