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  • Writer's pictureSusannah Powers Stengel

Love is Blind, Deaf, & Fun

Blind Date Matchmaker Spills Tea on Love is Blind: After the Altar


RECAP


Spoilers For: Love is Blind: After the Altar and Love is Blind Season One



This summer, two years after they filmed the wildest public love experiment ever witnessed on reality tv, Netflix served us a three episode Love is Blind reunion special and mined a heap of golden dirt in the process. Love is Blind: After the Altar is part in-the-moment therapy, part recap show, part COVID-besmirching social distance failure, part Instagram reel, but mostly, it's the bitter, horny, yearning high school reunion from hell. I ate up every second. The love stories that captivated us in The Pods turned into caustic fallouts and beautiful romances that each served to remind us:

Love can start blind, but it only be sustained with eyes wide open.

To review your basic Love is Blind premise: Fifteen single dudes and fifteen single dudettes. All obnoxiously conventionally attractive. Two years ago, these thirty reality dating show contestants entered a facility where they chatted with strangers without seeing their faces through an interconnected series of walls collectively known as The Pods. Most of the show's Pod Squad fell in love with, and, in the case of about half the relationships, became engaged to be married to, a a person they had only spoken to for about a week. Two couples were actually married a month later, and, as this reunion special reminds you smugly again and again, those two couples remain married today.


Let's spill the tea couple by couple.


Lauren and Cameron



Highlights:

-Lauren and Cameron bickering about whether or not to wash meat before cooking it. Cameron, you're wrong. Wash that chicken please.

-Lauren and Cameron ripping on Jessica with snarky love.

-Lauren's dad fully accepting Cameron--"she's in good hands."

-Lauren in that fire dress with the long, sumptuous royal purple train at the party.

-Cameron delivering the most heartbreakingly sincere speech about their love to a crowd of onlookers.

-Also:


"Cam is a freak y'all. Cam likes to get it in."

Lowlights:

None. Are you surprised? :)



Jessica and Mark



Highlights:

-Her intelligence, wit, fashion sense, and depth are still on lock as always.

-I want the best for her, and am happy she's in a great relationship. With a doctor who slid into her DMs. Git it.

-Her adorable supportive soul sisterhood with Giannina.



Lowlights:

-Her contradictions: "But I was so in love with Mark, and I accepted his love happily." ERM WHAT? Roll the tapes!

-Barnett's idiotic rejection of her proffered gift to him and his wife, and her subsequent spinout at the party. She (and don't we all?) still has a lot to learn about disengaging from devaluing perceptions of her created by others based on false judgments. You're better than that and you don't need their approval.


LC and Her Cat



Highlights:

-Her glorious cat lady status: "I hope my cat never dies."

-Her facial expressions at the party in any given moment, especially in regard to that scumbag Damian's every move.

-Her mad captivating storytelling style.


Lowlights:

-Her insistence upon mythologizing herself as "Bad Luck LC," and, within this narrative, wasting most of her screen time (yes convincingly, yes entertainingly) laying out the many ways in which her post-Pod romance with Jessica's failed fiancé, Mark, turned into a maze of deceit and lies. That sucks, but I think you deserve better than to feel stuck in that moment. You're amazing. Sorry you got COVID though. Ouch.


Diamond and Carlton


Highlights:

-Diamond. The endless steaming pot of sisterhood she has to offer every single female on the show, never backing down from who she is, and always finding space to celebrate others even if she's real-talking them in a loud voice. She gets rejected during the course of the show by a sexy man who doesn't know what he's missing, but I truly believe that Diamond will find love, and has forgiven herself for the role her point of view may have had in ending her relationship with Carlton. Also, she looks amazing in leather pants.


LOVE IS DEAF, or my pained love letter to Carlton:



Lowlights:

-Carlton.

"Are you going to bend or are you going to break?"

Carlton answered his own ITM question in the course of this show. The show broke his ability to react non-defensively in high stakes situations. I think Carlton is intelligent, sexy, funny, insightful, and bold, and I probably have the biggest crush on him out of the entire cast, but I don't think Carlton loves and accepts himself yet. It was really hard watching him denigrate Lauren and himself in an attempt to reconcile the bi-phobic cast/black community scars of the show. I hope the world does better for you, of course, Carlton, but I also want you to do better by yourself, wonderful human.



Amber and Barnett




Highlights:

-Amber and Barnett racing ATVs and laughing their asses off.

-Amber drinking by the pool with Barnett's mom on the regular.

-The compilation video Barnett made to celebrate his wife as a surprise at the anniversary party: "I always leave every morning and before I leave I give my lovely wife a kiss."

-Amber delighting 150% in his every dirty joke.

-Complex conversations about compromise, adult financial planning, new, challenging health diagnoses, and kids.


Lowlights:

-Amber created so much negativity and tension and Barnett either actively seemed to delight in it, or went limp dick/inert in response to the drama. Mmmm, not the healthiest rhythm IMO. Examples:

*Gaslighting LC about how Mark gave her COVID with his disrespectful behavior.

*Her disavowal of single girl rights in general. As Diamond puts it: "I guess 'Mrs.' is the only title that Amber recognizes."

*Her refusal to "allow" Barnett to even acknowledge THE FUCKING TIFFANY CHAMPAGNE GLASSES JESSICA THOUGHTFULLY BOUGHT FOR YOU after your boo Barnett sold his house to pay off your student loan debt. Can you cut any of these folks a break please? Nope, I guess not. Amber on Jessica's gift:


"As far as Jessica is concerned, I have zero interest in accepting any fake gestures. As far as I'm concerned, she does not exist in our world."

Yeesh. Please grow up. You're so damn charming. Now match that with an ounce of self-awareness please.



Giannina and Damian

Ummm if you're talking about Damian saying "I do not" after your "I do" at the altar two years ago, NO, we can't.


Highlights:

-Giannina breaking my heart with the painful sincerity of her unreciprocated love. This is pretty awful for the highlights column, but God, her desire for reconciliation makes me want to believe in big, sloppy, resilient love--BUT IT HAS TO BE A TWO-WAY STREET.


"I still believe in marriage, I still believe in love, and I just love him so much."

It hurts so good.

-Her steely commitment to being a stone cold Veronica Mars style investigatory bitch at the party when . . .


Lowlights:

-. . . Damian Powers, The Thumb Thumb scum (or as my Tellyfish co-assassin Hannah knows him, "The general manager of a Chili's who hits on the 16-year-old waitresses"), being pursued by not one, but two girls completely unworthy of him, including (Whaaaaaa?) Francesca of Too Hot to Handle fame. Pre-filming this special, Damian had already fucked up G.'s trust by holding hands with Fran on a Tabloid-tarnished dinner date, and now he's pushing her wobbly trust to its breaking point.

-This is the Netflix reality tv crossover absolutely nobody asked for. No offense to Fran. She's hot. She's charming. But I wouldn't trust her to be a platonic emissary of love drinking wine alone with my boyfriend for the life of her. She's far too much of a sex kitten. Examples of the micro-betrayals of Giannina on display during their televised "friend date":

-The endless amounts of giggling.

-The array of physical compliments exchanged.

-The continual talk about throwing down and being fucked up, and her delight in the premise that Damian is, in her words, "trying to make some bad decisions."

-The fact that Damian INVITED Francesca to come to the two year anniversary party of his own failed LIB engagement without okaying it with anybody but his penis and certainly not alerting G beforehand.


And then we get to the party. Oh boy.



Fran's entrance is everything. Heads turn, jaws drop, and Diamond says it best upon seeing Fran trounce in:

"I'll call it what it is, that's some fucked up bullshit."

-Damian fails to immediately introduce Giannina and Francesca, even when they are standing back to back at the bar.

-Giannina is forced to grab her boyfriend's face and question him as to who he wants more. My stomach flipped.


This next bit goes down in both high and lowlights for me:

-Giannina sends Damian away and confronts Fran directly about the nature of her fishy, flirty vibe with Damian. G.'s balls are brass and beautiful when she asks, "Put yourself in my position. Would you feel like you're being royally fucked over right now?" Um. Yeah duh!

-Fran finally seems to get that she is the shady other woman and is creeped out into leaving. BYEEEE!

-As they fight at the party's end, Damian gaslights G., declaring of the mess he's made:"You love this shit!"


REMINDER TO ALL MEN/WOMEN/GENDER NONCONFORMING LOVERS WITH TOXIC INSTINCTS AROUND PARTNERING:

NO ONE LOVES TO BE PLAYED, ABUSED, MISTREATED, LED ON, OR IGNORED. LET SOMEONE GO IF YOU KNOW YOU CAN NEVER GIVE THEM THE COMMITMENT THEY COMPASSIONATELY COMMUNICATE THAT THEY WANT.


When you continue to play games, well, Michael Scott said it best:



-Giannina ends the fight with the most honest truth: "I just don't trust you."

-Reports confirm that G. is now single. We couldn't be happier for her. You're amazing queen. Download that tea here.


Take it from a professional blind date matchmaker who has had her own share of personal romantic trauma, love is a lot of good luck and even more hard work. "Finding a find" is only step one.

Love is the ultimate suspension of disbelief. Against a battering ram of odds, if we come together as a duo and choose to believe that our love is real and special, it will often thrive.


Love isn't blind forever, but it is a testament to our capacity for Blind Faith.


I will stan the two thriving Love is Blind couples all day erry day. Imperfect Lauren and Cameron and Amber and Barnett activated love through Blind Faith in The Pods, and have sustained their love stories (each couple so uniquely) with laughter, touch, compromise, shared family, boundaries, and overt mutual appreciation.


Raise an odd golden wine glass to these vulnerable weirdos. I can't wait for season two.


To find Susannah's matchmaking love guide and set up your free Tawkify Dating Concierge profile to be matched with eligible, professional singles in your area, check out details @ www.tawkify.com/invite/activation.php?rf=susst25


Who's your favorite Love is Blind cast member? If you were/are single, would you ever go on Love is Blind?



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