For season two, ‘Love Is Blind’ comes to Chicago to hook up some ‘good, solid people’
One dater on the Netflix hit says courting women he couldn’t see taught him how to be vulnerable.
For South Side native Jarrette Jones, dating in Chicago required fighting against the city’s uncanny tendency to feel like a small town.
“You may have been involved with someone who is connected with someone else — it makes [dating] a bit hard at times because people don’t want to [then] get involved with you,” Jones says. “You may have had past relations, been talking to or dated someone they were friends with.”
It’s because of this phenomenon that when the producers of the Netflix dating show “Love Is Blind” asked him to audition for their second season, he gamely, though a bit skeptically, jumped at the opportunity to try something new.
“Love Is Blind” debuted around Valentine’s Day in 2020 and boasted a novel, if not foreboding and eerily prescient, premise. A combined 30 men and women (so far, the show has only facilitated heterosexual dating) are sequestered in a building that has been decked out with private rooms, or “pods,” that are connected in pairs but divided by a frosted glass wall.
Able to chat but not see one another, participants engage in speed dating to see if they connect, after which potential matches are given as much time as they’d like to speak with their favorites. , After 10 days, couples can propose marriage to one another — after which they finally see each other, take a vacation together and move back home to see if they are truly a match. The wedding, for those who go through with it, is a mere one month later.
The show, hosted by Nick and Vanessa Lachey, and its pandemic-friendly premise became a hit in the early days of lockdown. The airing of its finale pushed “Love Is Blind” to the top of Netflix’s trending list, and the first season was nominated for two Primetime Emmys and two People’s Choice Awards.
The first round of contestants was all Atlanta-based, but season two, debuting Friday on Netflix, casts only Chicago-area hopefuls. Chris Coelen, CEO of the show’s production company Kinetic, feels Chicago represents a level of diversity and wholesomeness that makes for a strong pool of contenders — and some great shooting sites, to boot.
“[Chicagoans represent] a great cross-section of our country — good, solid people who are fun yet serious about the relationships they have,” Coelen says. “The city has some amazing texture to it and we were privileged enough to be able to shoot at some iconic Chicago landmarks. … [It] has some of the most amazing spring and summer seasons; it’s one of the most amazing cities in the world because people embrace that.”
Coelen adds that the show wanted to include a legitimate variety of Chicago folks, not just those looking to score some screen time on a reality TV show. The casting team went to bars, poked around dating apps, contacted matchmaking services and, as was the case with Jones, reached out directly over social media to encourage people who may have never sought this opportunity out to apply.
Jones, 31, is excited for his friends and family to finally be able to follow along with the process, as they were not informed of his participation until he left the pods. The entire “Love is Blind” experience has taught him the value of maintaining an open mind — to pod dating, certainly, but also to letting things progress at whatever speed required, even warp speed.
“I used to be a firm believer [that] you can’t fall in love after a couple of weeks or months; I don’t think that anymore,” Jones says. “[But] the biggest thing I learned about myself is that I am able to be vulnerable. With women that I’ve been with and dated in the past, it took a lot for me to open up to them. … If I want to be successful [in love], then I have to do things that I haven’t done in the past. You can’t continue to do things the same way that you did before and expect different results.”