Spoiler Alert: This article discusses events from the first five episodes of The love is blind Season 4.
A few episodes from the fourth season of the hugely popular Netflix dating series The love is blind, 26-year-old marketing manager Mika delicately ends her relationship with 31-year-old Kwame, a sales development manager. Clearly caught off guard, Kwame — who doesn’t watch and has never actually seen Mika, since the show’s premise dictates that couples don’t meet face-to-face until they’re engaged — defaults to the verbal equivalent of a form rejection letter.
“Thank you for taking the time to listen to me,” he tells her. “It’s been fantastic getting to know you and I hope it works out for you. I really wish you the best of luck. Thank you for being transparent with me.”
It’s a telling moment—not because it reveals Kwame’s innermost self, but because it’s so representative of a curious trend among The love is blind throws past and present. While decades of reality television have spawned such clichés as “I’m not here to find friends,” and dating shows tend to overuse pop psychology and self-help buzzwords, from Connection to travel to toxic, the mix of marriage-ready singles who sign up for this so-called social experiment often seem at their most free in the language of corporate America. Throughout Season 4, cast members have been talking about leaning back to their commitments and feelings burned out from years of failed relationships. “I think it just speaks to the core values,” Mika notes when she meets Kwame and he explains why he chose to use his real name on the show rather than an Americanized alternative, Alex.
Kwame on the left and Brett inside The love is blind
In many ways, it makes sense that the jargon of white-collar management and corporate communications should be the lingua franca in the The love is blindthe famous subs. Dating shows don’t appeal to the same type of contestants. Coastal flirt fests in the spirit of Island of love, The Temptation Islandand Too hot to work-as well as self-aware take as FBoy Island, the canceled HBO Max series that recently found a new home on The CW — usually attracts professional exhibitionists: influencers, models, actors, personal trainers who want to promote their brand by flexing shirtless in front of an audience of millions. Even on The Bachelor and the like, the typical contestant is destined to find fleeting fame, not a lifelong mate.
While no cast is monolithic, the several dozen 20- and 30-somethings who are more eager to jumpstart their romantic futures than embark on ongoing careers in reality TV seem more likely to have already settled into traditional professions. Indeed, a multitude of The love is blindThe fourth voice has some combination of words marketing, manager, Senior, sales, coordinator, directoror a specialist in the job titles that identify them on screen. It is probably no coincidence that the above description includes an even higher percentage of the participants who join the pods and thus become the main characters of the season. Whatever their individual skills, these professionals share a vocabulary honed in conference rooms and client emails. As anyone who has ever worked in an office can tell you, language plays a huge role in this culture.
Jackie on the left and Mika inside The love is blind
It’s no news that people tend to feel most comfortable around those with whom they have the most in common. The flaps where all the cast members have to go on are their conversations, making the words that come out of each person’s mouth even more important than usual. If the typical blind date looks a little like a job interview, then these dates are interviews reduced to pure questions and answers. (Two Season 4 cast members actually work as recruiters.) The interviewees ask each other about their values and goals, and sometimes go so far as to introduce the kind of banter that makes interviews for many technical and finance positions so creepy .
Corporate language seems to come out especially often when cast members are angry or frustrated. “I can’t get you to invest,” complains Zach, a 32-year-old lawyer, to his partner Irina. “What I see in you is limitless potential,” another man tells his fiancée later in the season after discovering a threat to their relationship. Asked to make a difficult trade-off for his potential wife-to-be, someone else jokes, “Follow up with an email if you can after this date.” It’s easy to find comfort in euphemisms, whether they’re inside jokes or urgent requests.
From left: Jack, Jimmy, Josh S., Josh D., Juan and Ryland inside The love is blind
As shallow and mechanical as some of these statements may appear on paper, they do not necessarily reflect insincerity. Rather, I think they represent a certain relatively successful subset of a certain financially stressed generation for whom the boundaries between work and home border on non-existence. In the season 4 premiere, co-host Vanessa Lachey asks the cast why they chose to come on the show. “I get easily distracted by work, by my phone” — where swiping through profiles on dating apps isn’t so different from digging through resumes — “and this is the perfect opportunity to put that aside,” says real estate investor Ryland, 28. When couples destined for the altar return from their pre-wedding honeymoons in Mexico and move in together, long work days and pesky remotes suddenly become a problem.
four seasons in The love is blind may have proved that it is possible to fall in love with someone you have never seen or touched. (Not that said love always turns into sexual chemistry or ends in marriage, or that said marriages never end in divorce.) But even in the capsules, there’s more going on than two beautiful souls communicating without any outside influence. The corporate workplace permeates even this supposedly sacred “experiment,” dropping the signifiers of education, ambition, and social class wherever it goes.
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