WARNING: SPOILERS AHEAD
The gift that is Netflix’s hit Love is Blind kept giving when the reunion special aired yesterday. Last month, right before Valentine’s day, Netflix dropped this addictive dating show, labelled an experiment, but clearly meant as a binge-worthy messy masterpiece. The show continues to sell the premise as the broad question of whether love is blind, but honestly? We only care about the mess right? Sure, it’s interesting to see if people can fall in love by building an emotional connection without knowing what their partner looks like, but this show had grown adults talking and proposing marriage through a wall while sitting in “pods”. I am not convinced we were meant to consume this without humour. The recently-taped reunion showed the cast meeting together in person for the first time in the year and a half since the show was filmed. And the perfect amount of messiness ensued.
Nick and Vanessa Lachey begin by asking the people who are currently single to raise their hands. Jessica, Kelly, Diamond, Carlton, and lame-ass Mark raise their hands. Trolling us by starting with the couple we still don’t care about, we get a rambling Kelly struggling through bad excuses for not marrying Kenny, while Kenny humble-brags about being in a good relationship today due to his time on the show. I stayed awake just long enough to hear Kelly say she’s made a bunch of mistakes she’s masking as self-growth like “switching jobs a bunch of times” and dating a friend.
To my confusion and dread, Giannina and Damian admit to being in a relationship with each other. Sounding totally different from the animated spitfire Giannina, who gave us unforgettable moments like randomly yelling that Damian is bad in bed during a wholly unrelated argument, slipping in the mud while running from the altar, a seemingly sedated “G” claimed she didn’t want to lose a love as good as Damian’s. Apparently she had to see some of her self-sabotaging behaviour to save the relationship and change. I mean, I guess. Damian gives me strong uptight conservative vibes but sure, good for them.
Then came what we were all there for: “Messica”. In a gross underestimation, Jessica begins her one-woman PR campaign by immediately copping to being cringe-worthy on the show. Surprising no one, she narcissistically calls the experience rough on her (what about Mark? What about us?), and like Kelly, unconvincingly lists her transformations and locations she has changed in the time that passed (unfortunately for Los Angeles, she lives and is dating there now). I have to give her credit for admitting to drinking too much, although she didn’t mention getting her poor dog wasted too.
This is the most important part of the reunion, but Jessica’s phony contrition is no match for a truly damning highlight reel of some of her worst moments on the show (Love is Blind producers possess a level of petty I can aspire to). Of course, the question of whether Barnett hinted or proposed to Jessica when they were in the pods was central (he didn’t). This part of the show kickstarted Jessica’s transition from human to forever villain. After Barnett dumped her, having no respect for others or general dignity, Jessica tearfully ran into Mark’s desperate arms, starting her crimes of humanity against him that lasted the rest of the season. Apparently, Amber had no idea Jessica was trying to steal criminally overrated Barnett the whole time, and learned it with us as she watched the show last month.
Clearly forgetting that she “won” mediocre Barnett, Amber came to the reunion with Real Housewife energy, fixing her new blond hair and an directing almost totally grammarless rant toward Jessica. It was glorious. Some highlights: “So to see her throwing herself at him in Mexico? Bitch you’re shiesty…You’re so fake. Coming to my face like we were cool – you are so fake. I hope seeing this you do grow from it because that is not what the world needs: is women that go behind each other’s backs like that. You were engaged! To another man that you were leading on. He was engaged, he made his choice. ANYWHO I’m not super happy seeing that…it would have been more comfortable if someone had said they still have feelings for him.”
First of all, I was taken aback by Mark being talked about like a person and not a human rendering of desperation, and the fact Amber is still convinced Barnett and his bad fashions are a catch. And her claim that the last thing the world needs is a woman stealing a man is laughably wrong, but I’m not sure anyone was complaining about all those insults hurled Jessica’s way.
Jessica tries her best to act humble and apologize to both Amber and Barnett, but Amber isn’t having it. Something tells me that she would accept an apology in cash or Sephora cards only. Meanwhile, Barnett says almost nothing besides his usual meaningless, vague platitudes and vocabulary.
While badly performing empathy and emotional intelligence, Jessica claims her portrayal on the show reflected her trying to vet and control the experience. Kudos to her for at least admitting she didn’t take being rejected by Barnett well and that she constantly disrespected Amber and Barnett’s relationship.
Mark spends the reunion continuing to remain irrelevant to his own storyline. For some reason, Jessica wants us to believe she wasn’t totally disgusted by Mark like we didn’t see her literally recoil from his touch for the whole series. Mark looks like he buys it too, defending Jessica and trying to save face. Lying about learning a lot. For Mark to claim he learned anything on this show besides the fact he’s been coddled and literally is an average 24 year old in every respect is painful. So, a year and a half later, Jessica and Mark are still lying about everything to save face. Obviously, for the greater good, they need to continue to appear on reality TV together.
The rest of the reunion played out pretty normally. Carlton and Diamond talk it out, way more healthily than that tragic Beyoncé-influenced pool scene. I was happy to see the serious issue of biphobia and dating on the spectrum not being glossed over. Carlton was definitely acting like an asshole during the show, and I liked that he was given space at the reunion to talk about how uncomfortable filming his coming out was. He also apologized for disrespecting Diamond, which was totally necessary. It was pretty ugly to see him revert to disrespecting a Black woman when backed into a corner so I’m glad his many apologies to her seemed genuine. They are working on being friends. Hopefully the Black couple on season 2 will have a brighter future.
Saving the epic love story for the end, Lauren and Cameron are happily married. They are the most successful couple in the experiment and the cutest couple anyone in the world has ever seen. They say a bunch of adorable things, about planning more weddings, their dog, and their perfect future. Much to the delight of the entire viewing audience, they’ve been doing interviews about a potential YouTube series and other ways to continue to share their relationship. But they’re not the biggest winner here. It’s Netflix, again.