Former ‘Love Is Blind’ Cast Members Talk About Emotional, Mental and Physical Toll of Being on the Show: ‘It Literally Ruins Lives’

… and sleep-deprived and hungover.

Nearly a year after season-two cast member Jeremy Hartwell filed a lawsuit against Netflix and producers over “inhumane working conditions,” more Love Is Blind contestants have come forward to share their own experiences on the show and how their time in the pods impacted them emotionally, mentally and physically in a subscriber-only investigation released by Insider earlier this week.

Cast complaints include long working days, sleep deprivation, lack of food and water, excessive alcohol service, manipulative interviews, and no access to mental health care. “You thrust us into this situation without any support, and everything’s amplified,” season-two contestant Nick Thompson told Insider. “It literally ruins lives.”    

As explained in the article, contestants film for up to 20 hours a day for 10 straight days, spending their time on dates, filming confessional interviews and hanging out in the lounge with other contestants. Anywhere a contestant goes, a production assistant accompanies them, even to the bathroom, but the PAs aren’t allowed to interact with the contestant, a former crew member alleged to Insider. “We were told if a girl comes on the bus and she feels self-conscious, feeling bad about her body, don’t respond,” the anonymous former production assistant said. “Just ice her. That weird cult vibe of, ‘Don’t talk to them, they can’t talk to you.’ It’s all about the isolation.”

Like on other reality shows, that isolation includes preventing contestants from being in touch with their family and friends during filming. The long days of filming, lack of sleep, and separation from the outside world made cast members lose track of time and days and, some alleged in the article, increased the drama on the show. “The sleep deprivation was real,” season-one contestant Danielle Drouin told Insider. “I feel like they do it on purpose because they’re trying to break you. They want you on your edge.”

Contestants alleged they faced these conditions without access to the same type of on-call mental health care offered on shows like The Bachelor, The Bachelorette and Big Brother, particularly for cast members with a history of mental illness or trauma. “You should have check-ins,” Briana Holmes, who worked as a mental-health professional before being featured on the show’s first season, told Insider. “People forget that your emotional, mental, and physical well-being can be interrupted with any remembrance of trauma.”

The confessional interviews could bring up past traumas for contestants. Season two contestant Danielle Ruhl, who married Nick on the show and has since split from him, confided in a producer about her body image issues. She was upset when that later became a major topic during confessional interviews and a storyline on the show. “They would use these things to kind of cut you down day over day,” Danielle told Insider. “The interviews were horrible.”

Contestants said they dealt with all this while not getting enough food to eat or water to drink, but plenty of alcohol. The former production assistant told Insider that PAs were frequently told by producers to top off contestants’ drinks, “especially for the dates.”

Producers denied the allegations in a statement to Insider: “The wellbeing of our participants is of paramount importance to Kinetic. We have rigorous protocols in place to care for each person before, during, and after filming.”

For their part, former cast members are taking steps to not just take care of themselves but to ensure that future reality show contestants have better working conditions in more supportive environments. Nick and Jeremy are executives with the Unscripted Cast Advocacy Network (UCAN) Foundation, an organization that aims to provide support and general advocacy for past, current and future unscripted television cast members.  As Hartwell told Insider, the reality-TV industry shouldn’t get away with “exploiting and emotionally and psychologically abusing human beings for profit.”

4 Responses

  1. Oh wah. They went through extensive paperwork and interviews knowing what they are getting into. It’s not a process of just signing up and you get in.

  2. I can believe it.

    The main premise of the show is talking and eventually, trauma will pop up.

    Danielle I remember being awfully unhinged. It was not where she needed to be, she had a lot of body issues. A lot of emotional issues as well.

    It’s 2 parts. Dont go on reality TV if you cannot handle the outcomes. We have had reality TV since the 90s, and many many examples of both after- show success and heartbreak. So this isnt new.
    MTV, The Bachelor, have always plied contestants with alcohol then pitted then against each other. This is how they all operate.

    These folks sign themselves away just to be on TV. I get LIB is cool and different. But just like American Idol, they will manipulate and chop and screw footage to build their narrative.

    Look how they did Jackie and the coffee date. They made it look like she ditched the dress fitting to go on a date. They made it look like she did the date before she dumped Marshall.

    I love LIB, it’s like my favorite show. But I dont pretend it’s moral and just.

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