Love Is Blind Season 5 kicks off on Netflix on September 22, 2023 – and the timing couldn’t be worse. With a boring After the Altar reunion special for the previous season in its books, along with the recent allegations of mistreatment from former contestants and the collective roasting of the show’s hosts, Vanessa and Nick Lachey… It seems now, more than ever, it’s time for this reality show to go away.
But that’s not the plan. Instead, the show has expanded to Japan and Brazil, and recently announced the hosts for the United Kingdom adaptation, along with an upcoming spin-off in Germany and a game on the Netflix Stories app. It’s clear that Netflix wants the popular reality series to be long-lasting, but will that be the case?
Prior to the upcoming season, the last time we saw Love Is Blind was for the Season 4 After the Altar special, which was a rather boring affair. Viewers online complained that the show was making drama out of nothing. Did we really need to see Micah being buddy-buddy with her ex’s mom? Or the awkward reunion between Micah and Irina, which was suspected to be a plug for Netflix’s upcoming season of the reality show Perfect Match, which they are rumored to be on?
Critics agreed, with Jenna Jaehnig for Michigan Daily saying “nobody needed” the three-part reunion special and Archi Sengupta for Leisure Byte calling it “oddly boring.”
But After the Altar wasn’t the worst of it. The first Season 4 reunion epically failed after Netflix’s live special and suffered from major technical difficulties, resulting in a majority of the audience watching a pre-taped version the following day. The reunion also saw the Love Is Blind audience turning on the married co-hosts Nick and Vanessa Lachey, with many stating that they weren’t talented enough to lead a live, unedited discussion.
After the special finally aired, viewers called for the couple to be replaced as they were annoyed with the hosts’ poor handling of sensitive topics. Rumors sparked saying they were going to be replaced given the backlash, but Netflix quickly squashed the speculation.
But perhaps the biggest Love Is Blind drawback is the ongoing allegations against Netflix and production company Kinetic Content: they’ve been accused of mistreatmenting contestants on set. In April, an explosive report from Business Insider contained allegations from former cast members who claimed they were often deprived of food and sleep during 20-hour work days and received little to no emotional support from producers.
In the report, Danielle Ruhl claimed she experienced panic attacks and suicidal thoughts while filming and was dissuaded from leaving the reality show early. Her now ex-husband, Nick Thompson, whom she married in Season 2, supported her comments and said he lost 15 pounds while filming. He also claimed that he received no mental health support from the production team. Thompson has continued making allegations against the series, saying he struggled financially after appearing on Love Is Blind, and was only compensated $10,000 for 10 weeks of filming on the show, which averages to about $7.14 an hour.
In 2022, Season 2 contestant Jeremy Hartwell attempted to sue Netflix and the show producers for various labor law violations, including fostering “inhumane working conditions” and paying cast members less than minimum wage. In a statement to Variety, Kinetic said there’s “no merit” to Hartwell’s allegations. Hartwell is the executive director of the Unscripted Cast Advocacy Network Foundation, which has been amplifying Thompson’s allegations.
Decider reached out to Netflix and Kinetic Content for comment or any insight regarding changes that have been implemented to protect current cast members or future cast members on Love Is Blind, given the most recent allegations. They did not respond as of publish time.
The sad truth is that these heavy allegations and poor viewing experiences will likely do little to sway the show’s popularity given the nature of the reality TV genre, which rewards drama and bad behavior. Just look at The Bachelor, one of the longest-running reality shows of all time, and its history of problematic work environments, racism, and other issues.
That said, Netflix’s Top 10 website doesn’t show any viewership information for the latest After the Altar installment, despite general statistics being shared for the previous seasons. In addition, other outlets have not reported on the specific viewership numbers. So, maybe the show has already seen a dip in interest. We’ll know more once the new season of the flagship show premieres. Perhaps the audience isn’t as eager to head back to the pods as it may seem. Love may be blind, but here’s hoping the Netflix viewers aren’t.