‘Love is Blind’ cast members talk finale, reunion

Tribune Content Agency

CHICAGO — Warning: Some spoilers ahead.

The finale of “Love Is Blind” — think “The Bachelor” meets “The Circle” — dropped Thursday on Netflix. We spoke with three of the show’s participants with Chicago ties — Mark Cuevas, Jessica Batten and Diamond Jack — the same day they filmed the reunion episode (due out March 5 on Netflix’s YouTube channel).

The show follows 30 hopeful singles ready to choose their future spouses without ever seeing them, challenging the notion of “love at first sight.”

Audiences have reacted enthusiastically on social media to the show, creating memes based on the cast — including one about Batten and her wine-drinking dog.

“I think everyone wants to be loved for who they are,” says series creator Chris Coelen, of Kinetic Content. “It doesn’t matter where you’re from, what your background is, what you look like, where you live, any of this stuff. You don’t want to be loved for what you look like for how much money you have or where you’re from. Every single person shares that.”

For 10 days, the singles lived in separate quarters and could only interact in private dating pods divided by a thin wall. As the show progressed, the singles had more autonomy to choose whom they wanted to speak with and when. If a marriage proposal was made and accepted, the pair was introduced face to face with the intention of marrying four weeks later.

During the show, participants had no access to the outside world, either directly or via technology.

“Love Is Blind” spans 37 days, 10 of which were filmed in Pinewood Atlanta Studios before the cast headed to Mexico as engaged couples. Following the trip, the couples moved into apartments in Atlanta, at which point they could use their phones and speak with friends and family.

Batten and Cuevas got engaged, but Batten left Cuevas at the altar. Jack was engaged to Carlton Morton, but ended up breaking up in Mexico once he revealed he had dated men and women previously.

We talked with 25 year-old Cuevas, 35 year-old Batten and 30 year-old Jack about falling in love in the pods and the rest of their time on “Love is Blind.” The interview has been condensed and edited.

Q: Diamond, when did you know you formed a connection with Carlton?

Jack: It was the initial date. It was almost like I knew him a long time, even though it was the first time I had met him. We just made a really good connection. We were laughing, we had a lot of similarities, we were really enjoying each other’s company and I was sitting there like, “Wow, I really like this guy.” I had butterflies when I left the pods because we really connected. He was so awesome and I knew I definitely wanted to go on another date with him.

Q: Mark, when did you know you felt a connection with Jessica and Jessica when did you know you felt a connection with Mark?

Cuevas: So it’s funny because Jessica was actually my third date in the pods. My first two dates were not very memorable, to say the least. In my head, I was like, “Is this going to get any better?” And the second I said that, I walked in the pods and Jess just said, “hello,” and I said, “hey.” And the energy, I really felt it across, even though we didn’t see each other. But I knew right off the bat, like wow, this girl is awesome. She is a very confident person that has a lot of similarities to me. So I hate the say it after the first time we talked, but I knew there was something there and it just intensified after that.

Batten: I would agree, it was that first time we talked. And in this experience, you are really uncomfortable. You don’t have your friends or family and your support system. And you’re thrown into this world and my first dates were not good either. But when I walked in the pod and he’s like from Chicago, that resonated. And then he’s a Cubs fan, we had so much to talk about. He was top of my list from then on.

Q: Diamond, would you have done anything differently, particularly as it relates to Carlton’s dating history?

Jack: Yes, at the pool, I should have approached the situation differently. I didn’t want Carlton to feel like I was attacking him or anything like that. And maybe I came off in a way that should have been different. I am learning how to communicate better as a person. I am starting to realize that there are certain ways to say things. I do wish he was upfront with me.

Q: Jessica and Mark, are you two friends now?

Cuevas: I think after the show, we needed our own space to figure things out. We’re both very independent people. I feel like if we did reach out to each other, during this whole process before the show came out, I think a lot of those feelings would have come up in a negative way. But now we’re both in good places where we can be — I hate to say this — but civil and there for each other.

Batten: I would say from my perspective, it’s all water under the bridge. We’re absolutely friends on my end.

Q: Diamond, are you still in contact with Carlton?

Jack: It took a very long time for us to communicate. Carlton did reach out a couple of times, and I do commend him for that. And he finally messaged me and said he wanted to talk to me. And I thought I could at least hear him out and maybe there was a reason that he acted that way and acted aggressive toward me. I totally understand why Carlton would have been defensive only because it is very hard to have the community accept you. I also had some things that I really wanted to get off my chest.

Q: Do you think love is blind?

Cuevas: It’s like a yes and no kind of question. I think it is when you feel that initial connection, you can’t fake it. You know a real connection, but it’s not a necessary “no” because there are a lot of pressures that happen in the day-to-day that we don’t think about.

Jack: (laughs) I do think love is blind (laughs). Although it did not happen for me, unfortunately. It happened for two other beautiful couples. And I am so happy for them. It wasn’t about race and it wasn’t about how the person looked; it really was you in there learning about this person and really accepting them for who they are. I am a hopeless romantic and I do believe that it happens.

All episodes of “Love is Blind” are available for streaming on Netflix. A reunion episode of the show will premiere on Netflix’s YouTube channel on March 5.



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