The pods are open, people are talking, and love is blind — maybe. (It’s the name of the grand “experiment,” after all.) The new, fourth season of Netflix’s Love Is Blind takes the reality show to Seattle (or, at least, it will, following its first five episodes spread across the pod basement and the resort in Mexico). And the results are… wowza.
That’s not always a good thing. While the first few episodes of season 3 were marked with some drama, they have nothing on the chaotic messiness of the season 4 cast. People are making grand declarations about being smitten for so long and then remembering it’s only been six days. Couples fall together and then break up. Pool parties get messy as shit. That’s television, baby.
So what is there to say about all the confounding decisions of Love Is Blind’s season 4 nonsense? A lot, it turns out.
Love Is Blind finally finds the perfect cast
Joshua: Netflix’s reality shows are basically all deranged social experiments, and Love Is Blind is still the best of the bunch. To me, it’s a heteronormative farce: People get engaged sight unseen and then have to grapple with their ideas of what a straight marriage should look like, in addition to regular-ass dating show contrivances like drama between the contestants and the temptation of what might’ve been.
For a show that’s so purely about interpersonal dynamics, Love Is Blind really lives and dies on its cast — season 1 got by on a genuinely earnest relationship that formed, season 2 got by on the strength of an all-time reality TV villain, and season 3 was just kind of… there. This time around, though? Boy howdy. It takes a little bit before you figure out which of the contestants the show will focus on (a lot of folks wash out), but who immediately made an impression on you, Zosha?
Zosha: Look, I instantly identified with Tiffany, as I too have conked out while listening to the soothing voice of a partner, only to wake up slightly disoriented about where things left off. But while her and Brett have love you can believe in (more on that later) I suppose the immediate folks who stuck out to me are Micah and Irina, the chaos agents of season 4 and immediate agent provocateurs of… almost every ounce of drama that gets wrung from the first batch of episodes? I’m not super well-versed in the world of Love Is Blind, having only seen a single season (season 3) before this, but they stood out as the kind of reality show villains I didn’t expect from a show like this. (Nor did I expect them to be so successful at their bullshit, to be honest.)
Joshua: They really are a surprise! Even Shake, season 2’s big villain, was just an astoundingly vulgar asshole: superficial as hell, and did not care about others. Micah and Irina — and let’s be clear, it is Micah and Irina, as I’ve never seen someone more committed to being a henchwoman than Irina — are god-tier shit-stirrers. They’re happy to blow up other pairings and mock other contestants in a way that is genuinely shocking. It’s sometimes hard to tell if they are out for themselves, or out to simply meddle with others, but maybe the best way to talk about them — and everyone else — is to bring up our favorite moments in these first few episodes.
Wake up, Tiffany!
Zosha: As established, Tiffany, the sleepy girl extraordinaire, is one to watch for me. Not only do I find this behavior charming, but also she and Brett are simply very cute! The Netflix Reality Overlords can do what they want, but in the first five episodes they don’t seem to be able to find much to edit drama around these two that isn’t just them gushing about each other. (Or other people gushing about them.) Maybe Love Is Blind is love after all.
Joshua: The little drama they do try to wring from this — Will Brett forgive her for sleeping through his proclamation of love??? — is very funny, as it does not matter at all to them in the end.
But as much as I end up liking the rest of the cast, it takes a while for me to get a read on them if I’m honest. How about you?
Zosha: Well, I instantly hated Paul and Zack, two people I found almost instantly grating and monotonous. So of course these jabronis made it through in some of the oddest pairings. But you’re right! Jack and Marshall took me a second to get a read on, as did Chelsea and Kwame (partly because they took their time to figure their shit out). But once I did — god, what charmers! Four people out here really just trying to do their best emotional honesty in the most ludicrous of circumstances. Even with the surprise guitar performance, which, sure, OK.
Do you have any favorites to watch, good or bad?
Joshua: Yeah I think the reason I like this cast so much is because, with the exception of Micah and Irina (and the poor interchangeably dull saps they pair with), the couples really want to, and probably could, go the distance!
This is why for me, the couple to watch is Marshall and Jackelina.
Please oh please let Marshall and Jackie make it
Joshua: Brett and Tiffany may be the most charming, but Marshall and Jackelina have something that feels genuine in a way that this show has never managed before. They’re a rocky mess but also endearingly sweet, and in episode 4 — once the couples are out of the pods and getting to know each other at a Mexican resort — the two have what might be the most moving moment ever captured on a Netflix reality show, as Jackie sobs in a closet as she vents her insecurities and Marshall goes in after her to hold her and says, “I know.”
It’s just beautiful and heartfelt television in a genre that’s big on artifice and performativity, the kind of moment that feels almost too real for reality TV, you know?
Zosha: It really does — and perhaps, unlike so much of Netflix reality shlock, better because it goes somewhat unresolved on camera? There’s the part where the closet door bounces back open giving us an almost cinematic moment of comfort. But most of the resolution we get from that is Jackie recounting it the next day and seeming legitimately touched, while Marshall nods along at the pool party as the other men say it’s “so easy” being with their fianceés.
Though the one-two punch of those scenes could seem jarring, instead it just makes them seem real and thrilling in a way so much of reality TV struggles to. It’s “drama” but not the type that makes us doubt how much fun they have with each other during their pool date. It’s like watching a younger sibling falling in love and just wanting so much for it to work out for them.
It’s the polar opposite of all Micah bullshit.
What is Micah’s game?
Zosha: I know! I get it! This is the game of reality TV and I really, actually, don’t believe in the Love Is Blind “experiment” to think that everyone is “there for the right reasons,” as the parlance goes. Part of the Stockholm Syndrome glamour of the show is how fast you just sort of forget all that buy-in anyway. (I generally don’t think people should get engaged to someone they’ve only talked to for a few days. But I do think if you’re gonna propose you should probably have to get married at the end of the show, per the rules of engagement.)
But Micah! My god, what a schemer. The way she just messes with people’s emotions in a totally flat way — the makings of a great reality TV show villain, tbh.
Joshua: She is such a schemer! She doesn’t even seem to like Paul, the guy she chooses to get engaged to? (Honestly? Kind of relatable.) Micah, to me, just seems like she wanted to win, which makes her unusual in this Love Is Blind cast because she is, frankly, behaving like a reality show contestant.
What catapults her to full-on villain territory, however, is her continued meddling in the relationship between Kwame (who she rejected) and Chelsea (who she was kind of lousy to) while pretending her behavior is totally normal. This is what makes Love Is Blind so watchable: It is constantly playing with your ideas of what cishet relationship standards even are. Is someone like Micah, who clearly believes all’s fair in love and war, really a villain for not buying into the romantic premise of the show? Does Love Is Blind, an inherently ridiculous (and exploitative by nature) show, even deserve to have viewers take its premise seriously?
Zosha: On a very real level: No. On an equally real level: Sure, why not? As established, it’s hard not to buy into the Hunger Games Capitol element of watching the show. Micah is playing a game, and she’s doing it in a way that’s less outright clever than it is just shrewd, manipulative, and not the way (almost) anyone else is really playing it.
Zack and Irina… what a mess
Zosha: Truly if there’s a loser in this whole situation it’s Zack, who gets lassoed by Micah’s henchwoman. And what’s worse: He’s totally bought in! Zack goes to the mat to defend Irina against Bliss’ read of her! He writes an embarrassing a cappella song for her! He says he knows she’d stick it out with him no matter how hard it got — she didn’t even stick it out when it got hard on day 3! Few bigger L’s in the history of reality TV, honestly.
Joshua: Zack, my man: Please go to therapy. I am not sure you are ready to date people that you can see. I really do think the show plays up all of his hang-ups in a way that goes beyond cringe and into pity, and I’d get mad about it if it didn’t ultimately turn out that he and Irina are maybe more self-aware than they appear? This batch of episodes ends on another all-timer Love Is Blind moment, as Zack and Irina realize they both kind of played themselves and have an incredibly fun conversation about hating each other.
Zosha: I sure hope they know more than the edit lets on, because that final note is one for the ages! Sure, there’s the further dangled drama there: Will Irina become a spoiler for her “best friend” Micah now? Will Bliss say yes? (Why should she?) But god, I wish more reality shows let us see moments like two people just digging into how much they have come to loathe each other during their ostensible honeymoon. It’s what we deserve. Ultimately this show doesn’t (can’t) prove that love is blind, but boy howdy, it can sure provide some clear-eyed illustrations of a couple when it wants to.