Written by Adam Kline
There is a shocking spectrum of reality television available. Everything from travel or cooking competitions to lifestyle transformations, explorations into extravagant stardom, and the often confounding confusion made of lust for love. Maybe it’s a guilty pleasure or your way of winding down. Maybe you refer to it as “trash TV,” admitting the hours you invest are empty calories. And yet, can you deny the draw?
I’ll gladly admit that I do partake on occasion. It’s not my usual thing, but I get the appeal. Sometimes I do want to watch something uncomplicated. So recently, I sat down to watch the Netflix show, Love Is Blind. Too often, these lust-for-love shows seem like they promote the more toxic or immature aspects of our humanity. But at the same time, I find myself fascinated by the master manipulation that goes into the editing of these shows. How they can take a muted and mundane interaction and turn it into an emotional cliff-hanger dripping with suspense.
The Love Is Blind synopsisis this: contestants spend three episodes pod-dating, trying to make meaningful connections with one another through a wall. Then couples who get “blindly” engaged take a trip to Mexico and move in together. Finally, in the penultimate episode, the suspense is ratcheted with a series of “will-they-or-won’t-they” weddings.
But then the series concludes with a reunion episode that is unlike anything I’ve seen before. This one-hour eleventh episode is what makes the whole journey worthwhile because what is captured on screen is shockingly honest and sincere. Some of these contestants had their hearts broken or they feel betrayed, while others appear to be a part of healthy unions, and yet, all of them are willing to do the hard work of communicating their feelings, and even confessing their wrongs.
I was moved by their vulnerability. Even the more outrageous individuals—like the guy who admitted he was only interested in outward appearances, or the girl who squinted her way through an apology or two—even these contestants were willing to expose the truth.
It was refreshing to watch. Awkward yes, and eye-rolls galore, but seemingly authentic. And what amazed me most was the editing, or rather, the lack thereof. It’s so rare to see reality TV set emotional exploitation aside for the sake of organic conversation and awkward silences.
It reminded me that, even in the reality of our own relationships, when our cameras and screens are turned off, we’re rarely willing to sit in the truth of our circumstances. To sit across from those we’ve hurt or those who have hurt us. More often than not, our tendency (or the temptation) is to ignore the wounds within us or around us, to shut out, pile on shame, or move on. In reality, the healthiest thing (or the holiest thing) to do, is to create a safe space where emotions can be exposed, the truth can be shared and trust can be built or rebuilt by God’s grace.
As the Apostle Paul puts it in Ephesians 4:29-32: “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen. And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, with whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Get rid of all bitterness, rage and anger, brawling and slander, along with every form of malice. Be kind and compassionate to one another, forgiving each other, just as in Christ God forgave you.”
I don’t know if love is blind, but I do know how love is built, and when we’re willing to do the hard work, with Christ as our cornerstone, our relationships can partake in the greatest of realities. In the safe space of the Holy Spirit, we can courageously embrace the awkwardness and expose our emotions instead of ignoring the wounds. And through sitting in that raw, unedited reality, we can experience healing and wholeness.
Adam Kline is pastor of the Marmora Free Methodist Church and leader of the Intercultural Engagement Team for the Free Methodist Church in Canada. He is deeply passionate about discerning the divine nature through narrative and the complexities of communication across cultures. He loves to sip a freshly roasted dark roast and to spend time in the kitchen both cooking (and eating) his grandmother’s sweet and sour meatloaf.