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Can love be color blind? How Netflix’s 'Love Is Blind' underscores complex racial dynamics

Abhishek Chatterjee and Deepti Vempati in season 2 of "Love Is Blind." (Patrick Wymore/Netflix © 2022)
Abhishek Chatterjee and Deepti Vempati in season 2 of "Love Is Blind." (Patrick Wymore/Netflix © 2022)

Even if you don’t watch it, chances are you’ve heard or seen something about Netflix’s franchise, “Love is Blind.”

Individuals go into a room, develop a relationship without seeing each other and some even agree to marry before meeting face-to-face. The engaged couples then spend about a month together before their wedding day — with one last chance to back out — at the altar.

Netflix calls it the ultimate experiment.

But this second season, one of the most popular reality shows right now, pulls back some complicated layers. For instance, can love also be color blind?

Season one contestant Lauren Speed-Hamilton faced these complex racial dynamics on the show. She’s a Black woman who agreed to marry Cameron Hamilton, a white man, sight unseen. They’ve been married for four years now.

“I think that there was a part of me that initially felt like I’ll be judged by my peers. Like by me loving myself so much and my culture, but then, you know, falling in love with someone who wasn’t of that culture,” she says. “But I think that that’s really the key in all of this … is that just because you’re with someone else that loves you, that’s of a different background, doesn’t mean that you still can’t be proud of who you are or fighting for the things that you believe for your culture or your people.”

This latest cast was more diverse than the first season, and viewers got to see firsthand how an experiment like this can get a little more complicated when race is a factor.

Among the contestants were cis heterosexual men and women who identify as white, East and South Asian, Latino, Black and Native American.

And they weren’t afraid to talk about race, which made for some revealing moments, like when Abhishek “Shake” Chatterjee and Deepti Vempati, who are both Indian, admitted they had only ever dated white people.

But the show as a whole does not address the complicated realities of interracial dating. Cultural critic Mariah Smith, who hosts the podcast “Spectacle,” says she was kind of taken aback by that.

“I think that the producers are hoping the viewers won’t harp too much on race because again, the concede is love is blind,” she says. “[But] you can’t really erase that, no matter what the narrative of the show is or what the logline of the show is, race is a factor and it’s going to play into how these people behave in these relationships and communicate in these relationships.”


For more on the complicated racial dynamics at play in the second season of Netflix’s “Love Is Blind,” click the red audio button above.

This article was originally published on WBUR.org.

Copyright 2022 NPR. To see more, visit https://www.npr.org.