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Love Is Blinded by Hot People

Do vibes override Netflix’s reality dating experiment?Photo: COURTESY OF NETFLIX
Near the end of the penultimate episode of Love Is Blind season five, Izzy and Stacy have a tense argument about finances. Izzy has bad credit, and Stacy thinks he was hiding it from her. Izzy’s jaw trembles as he explains that he just wanted to find the right time to discuss it. What’s left unsaid is how this conversation relates to Izzy’s insecurities after several conversations between the couple about home-owning, paying the tab at dinner, and flying first class. Stacy and Izzy’s differing lifestyle views makes for the kind of conflict that often dooms a relationship, whether or not they say “I do” in the finale. It makes sense, though, that these two would have problems arising from conflicting lifestyles: They chose each other not because of their compatibility but because of their Hot Person vibes. A capital-H, capital-P Hot Person is separate from the extremely subjective metric of attractiveness. It’s about how one presents oneself to the world. Lydia revealed herself as a Hot Person when she insisted on wearing matching swimsuits with Milton. (Milton is not a Hot Person; he’s a Tall Guy — an important difference.) Hot People insist they’re funny even if, like Izzy, their best jokes are just sexual innuendo. Hot Girl Math is Stacy believing that home repairs are a shared expense but the man must always pay for dinner. Hot People tend to congregate in places like Atlanta, Dallas, Chicago, Seattle, and Houston — metropolitan areas with a large dating pool and thriving nightlife scene that lacks the competition of actual celebrities in L.A. and New York. A Hot Person is, in essence, someone whose life orbits around being perceived as hot, whether or not they’ve been blessed by genetics. A Hot Person spends lots of money (on clothes, on cosmetic procedures) and time (at the gym, at the club) with the express goal of being seen. Shows like Bachelor in Paradise, Love Island, and Netflix’s own Too Hot to Handle embrace Hot People vibes, allowing their casts to ogle each other openly and only feinting at the ostensible goal of finding love. But Love Is Blind has reached for loftier heights. For five seasons, the show has opened with Vanessa Lachey posing the question, “Is love really blind?” This language is core to the show’s framing as a grand social experiment: take appearance out of the equation so that people can fall in love without the distraction of physical attraction. Producers and contestants insist the wall between participants means that couples can form deeper connections and fall in love for who their partner is on the inside. But there’s a major problem: a wall cannot block Hot Person vibes. A Hot Person doesn’t have to sell themself; they’re operating under an assumption that they are desired. There’s an assertiveness and ease to how a Hot Person flirts, like when Stacy brags about her ability to guess a man’s shoe size. It’s bombastic, it’s slightly suggestive, it’s confident you’ll find a boring story interesting. The subliminal messaging to how a Hot Person communicates is, “You are obviously attracted to me.” This is how Izzy found himself choosing between three connections (Lydia, Johnie, Stacy) in the pods before proposing to fellow Hot Person in Stacy. When contestants don’t know what the other person looks like, that subtle assurance is comforting and can be the thing that tips someone over the edge to nab a proposal. For proof of the power of Hot Person vibes, look no further than the series’ many love triangles. In nearly every case, when faced with a choice between two options, the contestant chooses the Hot Person. Izzy chose Stacy (Hot Person) over Johnie (regular hot person) this season, and we saw the same thing when Zach chose Irina over Bliss to disastrous results last season. Viewers were baffled, but we had the benefit of seeing what everyone looked like. To put it bluntly, Irina has Hot Person vibes so Zach (perhaps subconsciously!) assumed she’d be hotter. When they finally met in person, Zach and Irina were such a mismatch they broke up while still in Mexico. It’s an essential problem with going off Hot Person vibes in the Love Is Blind experiment — they can override actual chemistry. But even when a couple does have real chemistry outside the pods, Hot Person vibes can throw a wrench into their relationship. The brilliance of Love Is Blind is that it follows contestants from the heightened, artificial environment of the pods to their normal lives, and this is where things get interesting. Hot People tend to live heightened, artificial lives; things that are ordinary to them — wearing a full face of makeup, spending thousands of dollars on clothes, going out every night — are foreign to others. So when someone chooses a Hot Person in the pods without understanding what it means to be a Hot Person, conflicts arise, like with Taylor (Hot Person) and JP (regular person). As the first couple we saw get engaged in the pods, Taylor and JP seemed to have a lot of chemistry, mostly expressed by calling each other “Sugar Butt” ad nauseam. But like Zach and Irina, they broke up before the honeymoon ended. It was one of the most interesting, and frustrating, conversations in last week’s batch of episodes: Things had been awkward between the couple since they arrived in Mexico, and Taylor kept trying to get JP to open up. He finally admitted he was taken aback by how much makeup she wore to the reveal and that he prefers her naked face. Now, Taylor is absolutely correct that she is allowed to wear as much makeup as she likes, and JP communicated extremely poorly in the moment. But the conflict is indicative of a fundamental disconnect between Hot People and regular people. What feels natural to a Hot Person seems fake to someone unfamiliar with the Hot Person lifestyle. Whether or not that’s fair — and in this case, I would say it’s unfair — it’s a problem that’s hard to resolve. This is not to say a Hot Person and a regular hot person can’t make it work, though in the case of Love Is Blind, it’s usually by turning the regular hot person into a Hot Person. Lauren and Cameron, one of season one’s successful couples, have leveraged their status as Love Is Blind royalty into a joint vlogging career. It’s a far cry from Cameron’s origins as a dorky data scientist with a bad haircut. (He jokes about that dichotomy in his Instagram bio, which reads “Still a scientist.”) Season-three couple Brennan and Alexa seem to be attempting to follow that blueprint. Let’s be honest, someone who’s willing to go on a reality dating show has the Hot Person vibes within them ready to be unleashed. But I’m tired of Love Is Blind continuing to insist that “Is love really blind?” is the most interesting question the show poses. We know the answer to that. It’s an obvious “no.” How do Hot People vibes shape a relationship that was built on a reality show? Now, that’s a juicy one.

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