Watch your back, Bachelor producers: There's a new dating show everyone is obsessed with. Netflix's Love Is Blind follows men and women as they go on a series of blind dates (literally, they can't see each other) in hopes of finding The One. Marriage proposals happen before the couples ever see each other in person, and they must decide whether they'll walk down the aisle after knowing each other for only six weeks. Clearly there's a very strict set of instructions for each person (i.e. no phones or connection to the outside world) to make sure they can truly figure out if love is blind. Ahead, all of the rules the cast has to follow during the 38-day experiment.
The biggest rule of the show is that the cast members can't see who they're dating. The creators designed pods that separate the men and women by glowing walls.
Since the men and women aren't in the same room together, they don't get to touch the person they're dating. No hand-holding. No kissing. No hugging. You get the picture.
Couples enter the pods and spill their hearts out to one another. After—and only after—they're engaged the couples allowed to meet face-to-face for the first time.
The experiment is broken down into three different sections, starting with the dating period, which lasts 10 days. After getting engaged, couples go to paradise for a week to build their ~physical~ connection. For the last few weeks, they live together in the real world while planning their weddings.
Creator and producer Chris Coelen (who's also the mastermind behind Married At First Sight) said the show's premise was scary as a producer because no one's required to get engaged or married. "[On] a show like we do Married At First Sight, you sign up and you know, you’re getting married to a stranger," Coelen told Variety. "Here, nobody had to do anything. It was if you find someone, if you choose. Which is so scary. They don’t have to go through with the wedding ceremony."
It starts with speed dating. Cast members spend 8-10 minutes with each person of the opposite sex. Coelen told E! News: "In the beginning, just from a practical standpoint, we have to give them certain time limits just so we can them through and they have a chance to talk to everyone...where they just got to know each other."
Since they can't see each other before getting engaged, the male and female singles lived in separate parts of the set and had a different team of producers.
"Life at the facility felt like a sorority," cast member Lauren Speed told OprahMag.com. "You'd think that people would be catty because some people would like the same guy. But we actually formed a sisterhood, no lie." Kenny Barnes told Refinery29 that the guys did plank competitions, cooked, and went for runs together.
Not only did the men and women bring notebooks into the pods with them (like Diamond Jack here) to keep tabs on all of the people they were dating, but cast member Jessica Batten told Refinery29 she wrote outside of the pods too. "I did a lot of journaling. I wanted to remember things because every day is like a month in there and so much can change."
"We slept in trailers and they were correctional facility beds. The design was to just strip us down from our comfort level," Kenny told Refinery29. Oh, and they were only banking about four hours of sleep a night.
Some men and women would visit each other multiple times a day because "the more they got in there, the more they have these conversations! Deep conversations that they never had with family members or friends or people they've dated," Coelen told Variety.
Coelen told Variety that the longest pod session was around four to five hours—and that was only cut short by a pesky bathroom break. "They were there pretty much 24/7. It's funny because we would encourage them to take [breaks], 'You gotta eat! You gotta get some sleep!' But they didn't want to, they wanted to stay in those pods," he said.
All of the cast members' devices are confiscated during the first two parts of the experiment so that they could focus all of their attention on their dates—and they couldn't communicate with people outside of the experiment.
There was no internet connection at all! No computers, no TV...nada.
"We tried to allow them to do anything they could do on a date, without seeing or touching one another or staring at screens," Coelen told Bustle. "So if they wanted to read, we'd certainly allow it if we could find the book for them." Interesting!
It's a vulnerable process to fall in love, especially on TV, so cast members helped each other process their emotions. "Some took longer than others, but every man there went through this 'vulnerability express'—this transformation. You had to go through it. There was such a big support when you saw someone fighting the experience. We were like, 'Listen man, what's up. Let's talk about this," cast member Mark Cuevas told OprahMag.com.
No distractions leads to better dates! "We didn’t want any sound to bleed through any other pods," Coelen told Variety. "We basically had a small speaker in the front wall and you would hear the other person who was in the other pod. There’s no producers in there, there’s nobody else. It’s just you and the other person. That's it."
As hosts, Nick and Vanessa spent countless hours discussing each cast member's relationship with one another. But as hard as it may be, they weren't allowed to give advice that'd sway the cast based on their knowledge of the others.
The whole purpose of the show was for the couples to form strong emotional bonds, so the producers were there to help cast members plan special aspects of each date without impacting the outcome. "We wanted them to make the decisions and them to control their destiny," Coelen told OprahMag.com.
The cast had to figure out what they wanted to talk about on their own. "They were never interrupted in terms of like a producer saying, 'Hey, talk about this, talk about that,' they just did what they wanted to do," Coelen told Variety.
Vanessa explained in an interview with People Now how some couples got around not knowing what the other one looked like: "I asked the girls, 'What'd you tell them?' And she's like, 'Well I said I look like this celebrity,' and I'm like 'Oh, I can see that,' and I go, 'What did he say?' And mind you, I've seen all the men. And she's like, 'Well he said he looks like this celebrity.' And I was like, 'Okayyy.'" Awkward.
The producers tried to make the cast members as comfortable as possible, and would pick up food for the singles. “We could request stuff. If you wanted a special snack they'd go run and get it. Bailey's and coffee was my go-to," Kenny told Refinery29.
From wine to vodka, there were no restrictions on what the cast members were allowed to drink. Hey, have you ever been on a sober blind date? They're stressful!
Before people narrowed down who they were dating, some cast members used their time with other people to vent about the person they were interested in—and some even took naps.
The men and women were encouraged to create dates they'd go on in the real world. "They'd say, 'I'd love to have a dinner of lasagna with this person.' So, we'd get them some lasagna!" Coelen told OprahMag.com. Others played games or serenaded their date with the ukulele (cough cough, Barnett).
The original cast was between 40-50 people. "It became evident as the process went on, from that big group of people, that there were some people that more people were gravitating towards then others," Coelen told E! News. "There was a certain point where we did a whittling down of people just to focus internally on the people who were really connecting to allow them more time. We ended up having maybe 20-25 people in the pods at that point."
Before the first 10 days were up, some couples knew they'd found the one and didn't need more time. At that point, cast members can propose and would see their betrothed the next day.
After matching up in the pod, the couples were sent away on an exotic vacation in Mexico, so that they could match their physical connection to their emotional one.
...until after Mexico. In the age of Instagram engagement announcements, it's counterintuitive not to share your news right away. But due to the show's no phones policy, cast members couldn't fill their families in until after they returned home from phase two of the experiment.
All of the singles were cast from Atlanta, Georgia, where the show is filmed. "It's too difficult if you're from Tampa and they're from Portland, that just throws another wrench in. We wanted to give them a real shot at making their love and their marriage work," Coelen told Variety. However, Coelen says future seasons could be filmed in different cities.