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Why I Don’t Care About Reality TV But Shamelessly Watch ‘Love Is Blind’

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The third season of “Love Is Blind” dropped this week, and that means the gossip is once again bubbling over a text group my friend aptly named “TV That Kills Brain Cells.”

We’re all stalked, college-educated moms who don’t watch much reality TV, let alone reality TV shows. But we willingly submit to “Love Is Blind,” which demands excessive posting after a healthy bedtime and stalking the cast’s Instagram accounts even upon waking.

The premise is ridiculous and it’s embarrassing to type it here: Singles looking for love “date” by communicating through a wall that allows them to hear, but not see, the other person. If they find a meaningful connection, they match up and get engaged within 10 days, unseen. They are only allowed to meet their partner in person after the proposal.

The cameras continue to follow them as each couple tries to extend their emotional connection to a physical one, and as the tensions and distractions of the real world – phones, family, careers, finances and friends – conspire to blur their relationship. They decide at the altar to get married, only a few weeks after their first meeting.

You may think these people have lost their minds. And of course you are right.

But what about us?

I started hearing about the show last season when a friend of mine started talking in depth about Deepti and Shake, two American Indians who fell in love with each other despite stories of not dating within their culture. Shaking was the definition of superficial, my friend informed me. “But he matures throughout the series. I really believe in that,” she told me.

“Just scum of the earth. Grumpy narcissist,” my other friend said.

So I started watching it. After watching a few episodes, I told him that I couldn’t get on the show.

“Keep watching,” she advised.

Now, in my third round, I can chart the slow burn of each season. The early episodes are still in fairy tale territory. It captures that latent little part of you that secretly enjoyed Gerard Butler’s romantic comedies. Your heart softens, just a twinge, when courting couples produces emotional sparks even if you don’t know the other person’s height, race, body type, hair color, or age. You support them as they utter reasonable cliches your 15-year-old self might have said, like, “Finding your soulmate should be like finding your best friend.”

The attraction becomes more cerebral than bodily. In the new season, Pilates instructor Raven describes her kryptonite: “Muscles completely blind me. Paralyzed. Blind. I’m helpless.” But in this social experience, she can try to overcome physical blockages and try to fall in love with someone’s heart and soul.

Yet none of this content is addictive. You need to keep watching for train wrecks.

Once a couple starts living together and the twitterpations die down, the veneer suddenly fades. In real life, we get to know our partners deeply – their insecurities, anxieties, baggage, sleep apnea, and bad habits.

“If you want to, like, maybe pick up your napkin once in a while, and maybe not, like, throw it on the coffee table,” cast member Zanab, 31, suggests to her young fiancé in a familiar masterstroke of passive aggression.

On the show, which is set in Dallas this season, we see how humans can’t help but make terrible decisions. We bear witness to how people bond not because of genuine compatibility, but because their hearts are hurt or their egos crave flattery. The fights are as gritty as they are recognizable.

We understand that, in fact, extreme honesty – like admitting your attractions to another woman – is not the best policy. In just 12 episodes, we can absorb the astonishing range of human fallibility.

My friend, a therapist, says maybe we watch “Love Is Blind” because we’re fascinated with what “works” in a relationship and what doesn’t. Can two people who connect so deeply by talking through a wall overcome the fact that they don’t share the same hobbies, interests, religion or culture? What does it take not only to be madly in love, but to see your eternity in someone?

The series can feel dark and depressing, as we see people – and ourselves – going down their own path to happiness. Only two “Love Is Blind” couples who got married are still together, and they’re both from the first season (Lauren/Cameron and Amber/Barnett). The series draws in tens of millions of viewers because it tells us that no matter how dysfunctional our own relationships are, they’re not as messed up as they could be.

Is love blind? Not always. But it can often be chaotic, irrational and exhausting. And yet, sometimes, it may be that work.

We keep watching to see if love works, and that alone might be worth killing a few good brain cells.