TV Features

Maybe Love Is Blind—But It Doesn't Happen Within 30 Days

Can you truly know you love someone within the span of a few weeks?

Netflix

After my last serious relationship, I decided to "put myself out there" again and downloaded Tinder, Bumble, and OkCupid.

Being an active user on all these platforms solidified to me how different the dating scene is nowadays. Most of it is due to technology and our social media culture, which has definitely made us a bit more narcissistic, fake, and even cold-hearted. Romance in this day and age is pretty much dead—and, without a doubt, so is chivalry. Only two of my most recent 20 dates opened a door for me, so now I go on dates with zero expectations. Most of these guys just want to hook up, thinking a first date and a couple drinks warrants the perfect opportunity to proposition me.

With all these "options" at our fingertips, everyone seems to be suffering from the "grass is greener" syndrome. When anyone can DM you, like your pic, or send a Snapchat (which, let's be real, is reserved for thirst traps), it cancels out any real effort to get to know someone on a deeper level and find a genuine connection behind the "black mirror" of our screens. Are we still capable of finding love like our parents did, decades ago? Is modern dating harder now because we have an open obsession and scrutiny about status, looks, and age? If only there were a "social experiment" that could explore what would happen to people if you took away their phones and had them focus on building blind connections with total strangers...Would romance prevail?

Love is blind jessica Netflix

Nick Lachey (from 98 Degrees) and his wife, Vanessa, took it upon themselves to explore this profound question—"Is love blind?"—on Netflix's new dating reality show, Love Is Blind. The idea of having 29 single men and women "speed date" for 10 days while staying in isolated pods that prevent all physical and visual contact is daunting. And, of course, no one is allowed to use their cell phone. It's just classic, one-on-one bonding time with the express goal of...immediately getting engaged. It proves to work—eight couples actually do it (although only six get screen time).

Once engaged, the couple gets to see each other for the first time before being whisked away to a "couples retreat" in Playa Del Carmen, Mexico. At the retreat, everyone has the chance to meet each other (remember, they all speed dated one another) to stir up drama and see who "regrets" picking their partner (*cough* Jessica Batten). Then after Mexico, the couples move into an apartment complex in Atlanta, Georgia, where they proceed to meet each other's families and friends before the wedding (which is set 28 days after the engagement).

First and foremost, the whole premise is completely outrageous, because it brings up another complex question regarding love: Can you truly know you love someone within the span of a few weeks or even days? One couple exchanges "I love yous" after less than a week in the pods and get engaged after just five days! That never happens in the "real world," so the "social experiment" has an inherent flaw in that its participants' motives for getting engaged might be questionable, inspired by a desire to move along in the show. Keep in mind: No one has their phones, so every single one of these men and women (who are all fairly attractive, which is such wasted potential for a show revolving around emotional connection and not just looks) are thinking that this girl or guy is their only "option" in the pods. How authentic can these desperate proposals be?

Love is blind lauren and cameron Netflix

Now let's talk about the six couples Love Is Blind actually showcases. The best couple is, without a doubt, scientist Cameron Hamilton and digital content creator Lauren Speed, who immediately connect and became emotionally invested in one another at the very start. I can't pinpoint exactly why they instantly clicked, but given their sweet nature and genuine wholesome personalities, it actually made sense. Apart from Cameron and Lauren, only one other couple—SPOILER ALERT—says yes at the altar: frat bro engineer Matt Barnett and ex-tank mechanic Amber Pike (the girl with a make-up credit card and $20,000 in student loans). In classic reality show bro-style, Barnett caused quite a stir in the pods, flirting with just about everyone and keeping three main ladies in his back pocket: Lauren Chamblin (sweet and nice "LC"), Jessica Batten (a 34-year-old who uses a baby voice when talking to men and feeds her dog wine), and Barnett's future wife Amber (who probably still believes in her "work to live" party vibes). He completely played all of them, with the exception of Amber, who definitely has a screw loose since she was instantly possessive over him.

Barnett's behavior in the pods is just like the quintessential Tinder guy—overly flirtatious, chill, and preoccupied with inserting sexual innuendos into any conversation. The highlight of the series is when he blatantly lies to Jessica, who had initially "emotionally" connected to young and naive fitness trainer Mark Cuevas (only 24 years old). Knowing that Mark has his eyes on Jessica and not wanting to let go of any of his "top" ladies, Barnett tells Jessica that he would be willing to propose to her the next day after their "pod date." Afterwards, Jessica turns down Mark's earnest attempt to continue their committed "pod-lationship" to explore a possible engagement with Barnett. Then, exactly as expected, Barnett backtracks, leading Jessica to return to Mark, crying and groveling. Mark immediately takes her back, losing the respect of us viewers in the process, because nobody likes "hot mess" Jessica (seriously, there's an entire subreddit basically dedicated to making fun of her), and what self-respecting guy would subject himself to that?

To say people get emotional, delusional, and needy on this show is an understatement. The couples exchanged rivers of tears, professions of love (the iconic Damian Powers' "I am the gift" proposal), and "f*ck yous"; and the huge blowout between Carlton Morton and Diamond Jack will go down as one of the most brutal fights in Netflix reality TV history. Honestly, how genuine can these surface-level "emotional connections" be within 10 days? They've just met. Case in point: Carlton straight up withholds the fact that he's bisexual, which ultimately ends his engagement with Diamond. That's something you state in the first couple of dates. Loving someone means you fully accept them, which definitely takes time.

Physical attraction also plays a huge factor in long-lasting relationships, whether we want to admit it or not. This is exemplified by Damian Powers, a "general manager" who hilariously took too much time off of work and could possibly be unemployed after the show, and his strange relationship with the "fiery" but unstable Giannina Milady (yes, you read that correctly) Gibelli. Although, according to Damian, their sex life is "banging," the couple ultimately does not get married. They are polar opposites who fight constantly and oftentimes forget why they chose each other. Damian is so emotionless and monotone compared to Giannina, who can go from zero to one hundred immediately. Ironically, her obsession with her phone and social media activity prompts Damian to warn her about potentially losing him if she continues that behavior. As he leads into his ultimatum at the dinner table, Giannina is still checking her phone–the audacity! Long story short, they don't really see each other's "bad sides" until after the engagement. Amazingly though, even after their on-air relationship fell apart, they continued dating and are still together today.

Love is blind amber and barnett Netflix

Lastly, Kenny Barnes and Kelly Chase (the most boring, vanilla couple on the show) have a strong emotional connection but no sexual chemistry. It isn't surprising when they don't get married (they're the only engaged couple who never sleeps together). (Shockingly, Mark and Jessica do get it on, despite Jessica stating over and over again that she can't match their emotional "pod connection" with the physical)

The most interesting aspect of the series is definitely the dynamics during the pod stages. Honestly, if the pod stages were to last three to five months, perhaps the single participants truly could "fall in love" based on real, emotional connections. But the only "love" that truly exists on Love Is Blind is between Cameron and Lauren (solely because these two are the rare type of "real"). Barnett and Amber also get married, but their connection seems like it won't last long (although, in fairness, they're still married today, over a year later). Removing social media and phones definitely strengthens and encourages the possibility of making a connection, but having such a short "deadline" on marriage puts undue pressure on the relationships. Thus, everyone falls under the illusion that their feelings—which are most likely just base-line emotional connections that we're no longer accustomed to experiencing from behind today's dating apps—must be "love." In essence, the Love Is Blind "social experiment" promotes the age-old, traditional notion of a classical, epic romance—loving someone for who they are and not what they look like.

I support the notion, but the experiment needs to be updated. Give the participants more time in the pods and sprinkle in less attractive singles, because you can't promote "beauty is on the inside" when everyone looks like they can get laid without a reality show. Let's see how these participants really feel if they propose to a fifty-year-old woman, a heavyset man, or a really short dude...Will they swipe left or right?

Music Features

On This Day: Shakira Liberated Everyone's “She Wolf”

"I was in the studio in a bad mood that day, then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting," Shakira said.

By Fabio Alexx

11 years ago, on July 10th, 2009, Colombian singer Shakira released the first single off her third studio album.

"She Wolf" is a synth-pop banger built on a B minor progression. It was, in many ways, an insane song, born out of the singer's own frustration and ennui.

"I was in the studio in a bad mood that day, then I got inspired and went to a corner and I wrote the lyrics and the melody in 10 minutes. The image of the she wolf just came to my head, and when I least expected it I was howling and panting," Shakira said.

Though the music was composed by John Hill and Sam Endicott, lead singer of post-punk band The Bravery, the lyrics were all Shakira's own. "[Shakira] contacted him (Hill), asking if he had any stuff," said Endicott. "We never had her in mind. We just made the thing independently of her, and then she liked it a lot, and she sang over it. She used some of the melodies we put in there and then wrote these crazy lyrics about being a werewolf. And that's how it happened."

Shakira - She Wolf www.youtube.com


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TV

The Dark Reasons Why Two "Saved by the Bell" Stars Won't Be in the Reboot

Lark Voorhies and Dustin Diamond have both hoped to be included in the reboot, but they both have complicated histories

The stars of Saved by the Bell are together again, filming a reboot of the early 90s high school sitcom.

Or, more accurately, most of the stars are together again. Mark-Paul Gosselaar (Zack Morris), Tiffani-Amber Thiessen (Kelly Kapowski), Elizabeth Berkley (Jessie Spano), and Mario Lopez (A.C. Slater) are all returning for the new show, while Lark Voorhies (Lisa Turtle) and Dustin Diamond (Screech Powers) will sadly not be in attendance.

Saved by the Bell stars

So why have Lisa and Screech been cut from the show? One explanation would be that those characters have simply moved on with their lives in the world of the show. The new series will follow the next generation of Bayside High students, including Mac Morris—son of now-California Governor Zack Morris—and Jamie Spano—son of Jessie Spano. But obviously, not everyone sends their kids to the same high school they went to. People move on. It makes sense that Lisa and Screech may have moved away from "The Palisades" area of Los Angeles (where Bayside High is located), or maybe they just don't have high school-aged kids.

Then again, when have reboot writers ever shied away from shoe-horning in old cast members where they don't belong? Shows like Fuller House and Girl Meets World don't exactly succeed on the strength of their careful verisimilitude. That potent hit of childhood recollection is the main appeal, so when two lead cast members are left out of the reboot—despite both expressing clear interest in being involved—there are definitely deeper explanations. In the case of the Saved by the Bell reboot, those explanations are a mixture of sad, in the case of Lark Voorhies, and gross, in the case of Dustin Diamond.

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When Lark Voorhies went on Dr. Oz to discuss the reboot, she expressed feeling "hurt" and "slighted" by not being included in the reboot and by her fellow cast members participating in various reunions and events without extending an invitation to her. But Voorhies also stated that she understood why they might have excluded her, acknowledging that she has struggled with her mental health in recent years.

At one point Voorhies was rumored to be dealing with a drug addiction, but Voorhies refuted those claims—responding with a libel lawsuit—and they were never substantiated. It may be that people around her were misinterpreting the signs of a misdiagnosed personality disorder—which has since come to light. The first word of the issue came in 2012—following a bizarre interview on The Yo Show, Voorhies' mother claimed that her daughter was suffering from bipolar disorder, which Voorhies denied at the time. Since then—after a scandalous and short-lived marriage, and some more painful and disjointed interviews—Voorhies has opened up about her updated diagnosis of Schizoaffective Disorder, which causes her to hear "many competing voices" that disrupt her thoughts.

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If Voorhies progress is anything to go by, this new diagnosis is the correct one. Her improved mental state is evident both in her demeanor and in her mother's renewed optimism. Both appeared on Dr. Oz and pointed to the work of Voorhies new psychiatrist in helping her cope with her condition. Sadly, many production companies would be hesitant to make accommodations for a performer's mental health, and it may be that she's still seen as a risky investment. Dustin Diamond is another story entirely.

In a recent interview with TMZ, Diamond bemoaned the idea that he would be left out of the reboot, saying, "How do you have Saved by the Bell without Screech? Right? It seems like there's a missed opportunity there." He also noted that he has so far been in more episodes of the franchise than any other cast member, which is undoubtedly the case, as Screech was the only character to star in both Saved by the Bell spinoff series—The College Years and The New Class. All told, Diamond played Screech for well over a decade, but the way he handled himself later seemed almost designed to tank this opportunity. The appeal of Screech as a character—apart from being a living punchline—was that he always came across as sweet and sensitive, and Diamond has proven himself to be anything but.

Screeched Sex Tape

It started in 2006, when Diamond tried to cash in on a trend of "leaked" celebrity sex tapes by making his own, entitled Screeched—Saved by the Smell. He has since claimed that the sex in the tape was faked using a "stunt wang" because his is, in his words, "not an idiot," and "an opportunist, really." The next year, Diamond appeared on the VH1 reality show Celebrity Fit Club, where he made a fellow cast member cry with his brash, rude behavior and challenged various people to "physical combat." He now attributes this to a deliberate and scripted effort to distance himself from the Screech persona.

Then, in 2009, with the release of his autobiography, Behind the Bell, he made things worse. It told a story of drama in which his cast-mates were more or less constantly either having sex with each other or doing drugs. In 2014—no doubt sensing that he had burned some valuable bridges—Diamond tried to disown the contents of book on the grounds that it was ghostwritten, but it's hardly surprising if that non-apology meant little to the people that book attacked. Later that year, on Christmas day, Diamond was arrested for stabbing a man during a bar fight. He was sentenced to four months in jail as a result.

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In a 2016 appearance on Dr. Oz, Diamond attempted to absolve himself of all his past misdeeds without taking any responsibility for them. Instead he referred to "repairing the damage that was caused by things that were done by people who took advantage of me and the situation I was in at the time," and he addressed his former co-stars, saying, "I think you're fantastic, working with you has been just one of the icons of my life and I'm sorry that this has taken advantage of me, the book and other situations."

Last year, Mark-Paul Gosselaar claimed that he doesn't hold a grudge against Dustin Diamond, referring to the book as a work of fiction and saying, "Who cares?" But he also mentioned that the two haven't seen each other in over two decades—and he didn't seem eager to change that. Considering the way Diamond destroyed his image as a sweet, sensitive person, coupled with the scale of personal attacks he made against his cast-mates, is it any wonder he isn't being brought on for the reboot?

The newest installment in the Bayside High saga will be airing on NBC's forthcoming streaming service, Peacock, which is slated to launch in April.