Entertainment

How Netflix's 'Love Is Blind' Is Forging Ahead with Its New Season During Quarantine

Netflix ordered a second and third season of the popular dating show just as the pandemic struck.

love is blind
It's Amber and Barnett! | Netflix
It's Amber and Barnett! | Netflix

Love Is Blind, Netflix's newish dating series, was an instant hit for the streamer when it dropped in early February, charting on Netflix's Top 10 list for weeks. The experiment centered around 20- to 30-something singles who were placed in a house with the sole purpose of finding a mate to marry. The catch here was no one saw any of their potential partners, communicating over dates in their "pods," until a proposal happened. Hosted (tepidly) by husband and wife team Nick and Vanessa Lachey, the series charted the couples' connections across 10 episodes that had them dating, proposing, taking a romantic getaway in Mexico, moving in together, and finally walking down the aisle. If you haven’t seen it already, then spoiler alert: not everyone says yes to holy matrimony. 

The show was such a huge success for Netflix that the streaming giant gave the go-ahead for a second and third season, and casting directors are already busy looking for the next crop of singles looking to find love. The second season is set to take place in Chicago, based on the applicant pool. “We are a couple of weeks into casting and have received applications from all over the country. In particular [in] Chicago, the response to the show has been huge,” according to the vice president of casting Donna Driscoll for Kinetic Content, the company that produces the series.

But producers of the show, like nearly all of the world, were stopped in their tracks as the spread of coronavirus hit the globe. The ground game in Chicago to search for local singles has turned into virtual calls and connections as casting directors look to find people who are right for the nearly six-week experiment. “Usually we would hire local recruiters to go out and approach people about casting for the show, but because COVID-19 we have had to alter how we approach casting for the next season,” says Driscoll. 

love is blind
The pods. | Netflix

Nearly all of Hollywood has scaled back on productions, and a number of movies that were slated for release this summer -- including Disney's live-action remake of Mulan, and the highly anticipated F9 -- have been pushed back to fall premiere dates, if not into 2021. The Academy is having a discussion about how to proceed with the Oscars, according to Deadline. The work behind the scenes to get television shows and movies made is seemingly not slowing down, however. Movie studios are readily taking pitch meetings over meeting apps like Zoom, according to Vulture, so that once things are back to “normal” there’s a roadmap to getting back to the business of creating content. Love Is Blind is forging ahead with as much pre-production as possible in the hopes of being ready to hit the ground running once quarantine life has been suspended. “We are leaning into following the lead of whatever the government is saying about the virus and when we would actually be up and filming the next season, but the support remains there for us to continue with the casting process,” Driscoll responded.

Part of that casting process is making sure the singles chosen are indeed there for love. Love Is Blind trended on Twitter for weeks after the initial batch of episodes dropped and, because of that popularity, producers have been flooded with applications for the new seasons, according to Driscoll. While a huge collection of applications is never a bad thing, the early days of casting for the second season has shown that not everyone is looking to find the love of their life. “There’s already been a number of applications that feel like they are trying to emulate someone from the last season hoping that it will give them a better chance to get on the show but I want everyone to know that being one hundred percent authentically you is how you will get chosen,” Driscoll acknowledged. 

Driscoll wants potential candidates to know that they aren’t looking to casting versions of Lauren and Cameron or Barnett or Amber, the two couples who ended the show married. Breaking with the heteronormativity of most dating shows, Love Is Blind is also exploring same-sex marriage in new seasons. “We are having so many discussions about that and I think that it would definitely be something that will remain a topic of conversation because we are accepting applications from everyone of all orientations,” says Driscoll.

What is unclear at the moment is exactly how producers plan to move ahead with shooting the show post-COVID-19. According to Kinetic Content, right now the casting process is all they have control over, and thoughts beyond finalizing the singles haven’t been decided. The details on how the singles will live or if the show would be altered on capturing moments outside of the pods hasn’t been revealed or planned out. What will not change is the premise that the singles won’t get a look at their potential love interest but only hear their voices while isolated in the pods. All eyes will be on Illinois and the City of Chicago, where the state’s governor have already extended the stay-at-home order to the end of May. Netflix, while giving producers the greenlight to proceed with a new season, hasn't made any decision on when the show will be seen by the public. “Right now everything is up in the air and we are handling how to proceed on a case-by-case basis,” said Driscoll.

Kelsey Minor is a two time Emmy-award winning freelance journalist based in New York City. Find his work on Twitter @theKELSEYminor