So…Where are the Black Girls in Love is Blind Season 3?
Let’s be very honest. Love is not blind.
The new season of the highly anticipated Netflix dating show Love is Blind is back. There’s already a clearer streamlining of the couples’ stories to get to the juicy parts (no spoilers, but there is already a proposal after the FIRST episode!)
Those who follow the LIB multiverse are familiar with the character arcs and stories of the different participants. The heroes, the villains, the perfect couples, and the toxic ones are doomed to fail. With the premier of the first couple of Season 3 episodes, we are given clear direction of who the ‘main characters’ are and who will, unfortunately, be cut out (as they are given minimal screen time). So, without giving much away, as we await the new batch of episodes coming out tomorrow, I can’t help but wonder…
Where are the black girls?
We could see their presence in the interview pod stages from the preview and initial episodes. Whether they were in the background providing emotional support to the white girl being rejected for the umpteenth time (iykyk), or minuscule snippets of their interviews scattered between the main storylines that the producers are focusing on. And so, I begrudgingly judge the other contestants that I have no relation to (other than SK, who is a Nigerian man). But beyond that, this new season is another case of watching on the periphery as white girls get into their yt girl business, and the role of black women in the background is exactly that. To be in the background. (And before mentioning the contestant Raven, I would like to note that she is an ambiguous black woman who, due to covert colourism and featurism, does not experience desirability and dating the same as an unambiguously black woman – on a TV show and in real life).
Ineye Komonibo wrote an article for Refinery29 titled ‘Black Women On Reality Dating Shows Are Rarely Finding Love. Instead, They’re Securing The Bag’. This piece highlights the overarching experience for black women across dating shows — because finding a genuine romantic connection is more difficult, many use the platform dating shows provide to primarily boost their careers. Covert misogynoir seeps into their experiences, and many walk away without winning or making it past the final rounds of elimination.
We may also have to accept as LIB viewers that chasing the high of seeing an unambiguously black woman being chosen publicly on a dating show was a once-in-a-blue-moon phenomenon. And not just in being chosen, but that it was a joyous, no-drama mess:
In terms of black women in drama, there are many examples to pull from. Many of us can recall Diamond and Carlton’s dramatic storyline, which became one of the biggest fights recorded on a Netflix series. Love Island is also notorious for its treatment and portrayal of unambiguously black women on its show. And therein lies the bigger problem with these dating shows.
The push for the narratives to diversify has to come from the producers or screenwriters themselves and not solely rely on public support for black contestants. This requires people to think beyond their unconscious bias when determining who gets what storyline and who does not. After all, we know that most reality TV is engineered towards our entertainment. The Queen of LIB Season 1 herself, Lauren Speed, acknowledged this problem too:
And having more black women is not only about seeing them through to the next round but that the “industry” ensures they receive the same opportunities and chances to succeed on and after the show as their fellow competitors. But, for race to be mentioned or talked about on Love is Blind is not something we can expect anytime soon — the baseline still requires mass appeal (yet somehow white people on the show can have nuanced representation beyond their race acknowledged). Moreover, the emphasis on this no-matter-who-you-are kumbaya rhetoric being blasted throughout this new season could not be more one-dimensional. Unfortunately, there will need to be a rebranding before I commit to watching Season 4 (I already skipped Season 2) because drama and love, mixed with the unexpected, are what made Love is Blind successful. Pretending to be anything other than that perpetuates fictitious narratives on love, desirability and identity within pop culture. And like most people, I don’t wanna have to get Political when being a consumer. I’m just forced to because of how I have had to (like many other black women) unlearn and resist leaning into the covert tropes and archetypes portrayed in media.
Still, we cannot deny how the Love is Blind format has changed the game for dating shows. To go beyond the cesspool of 2010ish style in-a-villa-big-brother-esque-pump-and-dump-bro-code-alcohol-poisoning-game-challenges dating shows is already a win in of itself. Love is Blind is still chaos, but with gold wine tumblers and semi-functioning millennials with attachment issues trying to work through their issues in other people. So I do not doubt the show’s longevity, as reality TV has cemented its place as a parasocial gaze into what we already see within ourselves and society. I already have my suspicions about who will last and who won’t. And I’ll still be watching the final episodes to see how this new season plays out and whether there will be anything to take from it. But regardless of what happens, I wish (like the other black women watching) there was a more profound and less boring reckoning with our representation by the show's producers. So bohd.