Patrick Freyne: If I know anything about women, it’s that they love a man who whines

Netflix's Love is Blind: If a blue rectangle of light is your sexual fantasy, you should apply

If our descendants were to judge our era based on old tapes of Love Island or Too Hot to Handle they’d assume everyone in the 21st century was an influencer, fitness instructor, actor, sportsperson or glamour model. “It is unclear how people in the early 21st century sourced food,” future historians will write. “But they were often triangle-shaped.”

Love is Blind, on the other hand, features people with professions including client services manager, sales manager, programme co-ordinator, software marketer, recruitment partner, business consultant and logistics manager. “It is still unclear how the people in the early 21st century sourced food,” future historians will write. “But we think it had something to do with PowerPoint presentations.”

Richard Scarry never depicted such jobs in his jaunty books about anthropomorphic urban animal economics. Indeed, if Scarry's publisher ever came to him with a book proposal based on these professions he'd say, "Not even cute bears could make this interesting."

As soon as you allow straight people access to the sacred institution of marriage, they ruin everything

And no post-apocalyptic hero attempting to rebuild society ever says, “What we need here, is a client services manager, a programme co-ordinator and a software consultant. Now, let’s kill all the farmers, doctors and helicopter pilots.”


And no six-year-old has ever declared: “When I grow up, I want to be a ‘recruitment partner’ or ‘business consultant’.” (Unless they’re in Fine Gael.)

Look, I’m just pointing out that the majority of people involved in Love is Blind already exist at a high level of late capitalistic abstraction. So the idea of being segregated by gender and forced to romance unseen people in “pods”, after which they will propose to someone they don’t really know and then legally marry them while being filmed by a camera crew, probably feels quite romantic to them. Yes. I said some of them will “legally marry” on telly. This is because as soon as you allow straight people access to the sacred institution of marriage, they ruin everything.

At the start of the show, a couple of love experts called Nick and Vanessa Lachey give them pep talks. "Over the next 10 days you guys are going to finally have the chance to fall in love based solely on who you are on the inside," promises Vanessa Lachey, referring, I believe, to the blood, guts and internal organs that make up who we are on the inside. The Lacheys keep stressing that this is a "social experiment" which conjures up images of people in white coats with clipboards and big butterfly nets, but I think it's really just code for "no one can blame us for anything that happens here".

And so the people on Love is Blind spend the first three episodes in “pods”, trying to commune deeply with invisible others on the other side of an opaque blue rectangle of light. If an opaque blue rectangle of light is your sexual fantasy, then you should definitely apply to take part in Love is Blind.

They look like people who might be cast as hot nerds on a US drama but would have been worshipped as deities if they'd visited Ireland when I was a child

The rules seem pretty clear, but a man named Abhishek misses the point and instantly starts asking people on the other side of the rectangle leading questions about their appearance. Abhishek is also one of the few here with a Richard Scarry-worthy job. He is a vet. This is an even better job than “doctor” if you think about it, because a doctor just deals with humans while a vet can heal any species in the whole Scarryverse. Abhishek ultimately finds love with a woman named Deepti because she suggests he shouldn’t focus so much on appearance. This blows his mind, despite having signed up to a show called Love is Blind, which is about not judging people by appearance.

Despite the premise, all the couples who meet on Love is Blind are conventionally attractive by most standards. They look like people who might be cast as hot nerds on a US drama but would have been worshipped as deities if they'd visited Ireland when I was a child (not to speak ill of my people, but in the 1980s, when people said "let your freak flag fly", they were talking about the Tricolour).

Over the first three episodes, love triangles form and break. Against logic a woman named Shaina ends up with a chap called Kyle. Shaina is a creationist who believes that a magic wizard created the universe, imbuing it with purpose and meaning, while Kyle is a materialist who believes that all is chaos and nothing matters. But eventually Kyle proposes with the words every girl longs to hear, “You remind me so much of my mother.” Kyle’s mother is also clearly an opaque blue rectangle. And now she’s probably a rectangle in a rocking chair overlooking his motel.

Shaina, however, loves another, Shayne, because it’s an easy name for her to remember and he never once suggests that God is dead or compares her to his mother. But Shayne ends up engaged to Natalie, leaving Shaina stuck with Kyle and his newfangled “science”.

Shayne is my favourite on Love is Blind. He is, we’re told, “in real estate” which I assume is a description of his physical location rather than his career, because, frankly, he seems unemployable. He’s a huge man with a high-pitched laugh who likes to flop around the “pod” like a fish or a toddler. When he accidentally mistakes Natalie’s voice for Shaina’s, he responds to Natalie’s hurt feelings by having a tantrum. “This is not fair!” he says, and he stomps around. If I know anything about women, it’s that they love a man who whines. So when Shayne proposes to Natalie on his next visit, she swoons. “I’m so nervous I’m going to puke,” she says, which will of course, enable Shayne to see who she is “on the inside”.

There are other contestants here too, all taking notes about each other in hardback notebooks like Stasi operatives and staring into the distance to emotive pop music. A couple named Nick and Danielle seem the most endearing, except when they start talking about Nick’s dog and Nick says, “He’s been looking for a mommy for some time.”

Much like Kyle, says you. Anyway, over the coming weeks I’m sure we will learn much from this “social experiment” and I truly hope they all find true love. Even Shayne.

Louis Theroux is compelling

The first episode of Louis Theroux's Forbidden America (Sunday, BBC1) is compelling, visceral television. Theroux is admirably unflappable as he confronts a selection of easily-triggered, often aggressive social media bigots. But ultimately I can't find a point to the interviews. These people are unashamedly racist, misogynistic and homophobic. I don't think we can learn much from people at the cruel and hateful fringes of the internet, particularly when engaging with them on their own territory and on the basis of their own manufactured narratives (even if countering those narratives). These people want us to forget that you can have deep disagreements and still honour complex realities and behave morally. They want us to think that, when discussing modern politics, their toxicity has to be part of the discussion.

Jon Ronson’s recent BBC podcast series, Things Fell Apart, is a much more illuminating investigation of some now historic battles in the culture wars. Ronson explores how complicated and often moving realities were often replaced with lies and simplifications that only served opportunistic narcissists. Theroux’s documentary, in contrast, goes straight to the opportunistic narcissists and they relish that opportunity narcissistically. Theroux holds his own, but I can’t shake the feeling that the bigots enjoy it.