“Love Is Blind” Has Everyone Talking

Written by Vera Armstead.

Would you get engaged to someone you have never seen before after only 10 days of dating them between walls? The producers of the Netflix reality series “Love Is Blind” arranged an “experiment” to test if this was possible. 

During the experiment, multiple singles were secluded to a building for 10 days in order to date people from the opposite sex while only hearing their voice. At the end of those ten days, if they made a connection, they would get engaged and would be able to finally meet face to face. After this, they went on a romantic getaway to Cancun, Mexico which led them to move in together. At the end of the six weeks, they decided whether or not they wanted to mate for life at the altar. 

With hosts Vanessa and Nick Lachey, the first season was filmed in 2018. Although it was shot nearly two years ago, the first few episodes were finally released on February 13. The episodes were released in phases to somewhat mirror the structure of other romantic reality TV shows such as “The Bachelor” and “Are You The One” with the 10 episodes stretched out over three weeks. 

“Love Is Blind” was rated as the number one watched show on Netflix for a period of time. The show has become so popular, that even “Saturday Night Live” has made a parody of it. The comedic actors poked fun at how the people seemed to rush into their love stories. One character said, “It’s only been five days, but I’ve found the love of my life.” The skit went on to compare the dating pods to quarantine chambers for the coronavirus. 

Although the premise of “Love Is Blind” is borderline outrageous and unrealistic, it has spurred real lifelong connections. Most of the cast members are still friends, having the common thread of their experience of being secluded in a building for 10 days without access to social media, television, or any contact to the outside world to engage in a love experiment.  

A part of the editing of “Love is Blind” that fell short was how most of the individuals who experienced the blind dating process failed to receive much screen time, if any at all. One person, Rory Newbrough, was only featured counseling Matt Barnett in his troubles with deciding who to propose to. His time dating in the pods was never shown on screen, despite him getting engaged to Danielle Drouin, who was given even less screen time. Cameron Reid, one of the main cast members, mentioned on an Instagram Live video that he wishes the final edit included everyone who was part of the experiment, because they were all part of the experience. 

Additionally, many viewers have taken to social media saying that although they enjoy the series, they wish they gave more screen time to people who were not conventionally attractive. @DaniGetCrunk on Twitter said, “If love is really blind then why aren’t there any fat people on the show.” Although there was a diverse group of people who initially participated in the experiment, the screen time was focused on the people who were thin, toned with muscle and beautiful based on society’s standards. It can be argued that focusing on these types of individuals almost goes against the premise that love is blind and should not be based on physical features. 

Surprisingly, two of the couples that said “I do” during the finale are still together almost two years later. This definitely supports the producers’ hypothesis that love is blind! I anxiously awaited the results of the six couples’ wedding days. I cannot help it; I am a sucker for romance, no matter how dumb it seems. Although there has not been an official statement saying that Netflix will produce a second season of “Love Is Blind,” I am sure it will be announced soon because of its major success.

“Next In Fashion” Contributes to the Othering of African-Americans in High Fashion

Netflix adds to its growing array of reality TV with the game show “Next In Fashion.” The series has popular names in high fashion, Tan France of “Queer Eye” and Alexa Chung as the hosts. It is a competition based show in which pairs of fashion designers from many different countries create different runway looks in just two days before they appear on models. They are all competing for $150,000 and a platform to sell their designs in order to jumpstart their business. Please note, this article has some spoilers. 

This is runway fashion. There is a stark difference between this and stylish clothes that you would normally see in stores. Many beautiful and practical pieces are deemed unappealing by judges such as Tan France because they are not “offensive” enough. But when contestants dare to add frills with a pattern, the judges complain about an outfit being too busy. The problem with judging fashion is that it is all subjective.

This show’s structure favors some contestants over others. Participants Kiki and Ferai wanted to create a design for the lingerie challenge that was comfortable, but still sexy and beautiful for the female model. Instead of adding underwire to the bra, they decided to have the bra piece without it in order for it to be more comfortable, since most people who wear bras complain about the harshness of underwire. Because of this decision, the judges criticized this piece, claiming that her breasts should be lifted higher. Just because women are on a runway, that does not mean that their cleavage line has to be exposed. 

Additionally, it is clear that the judges believe that they can be harsher on the team that consists of two black members. To their faces they openly criticized each one of their outfits and put them in the bottom two during elimination rounds often even though many other teams had less creative designs. On the other hand, there was a team of two Asian women that were very talented, but did not perform as well on the lingerie challenge. The judges barely criticized their work to their faces, and altered their tone while talking to them as if they were young children. 

The judges are too critical of the contestants. It is typical for pieces like suits, lingerie and streetwear to take weeks, months, or even longer to design, fit and style, but these competition requires all of this to occur in two days under extreme pressures. Some of the contestants knew their partner on their teams before the competition started and had great chemistry, while others did not know each other before the competition started and were incompatible. Many of the latter teams were eliminated during the first rounds because of this obvious disadvantage. 

I used to like Tan France and even guest judge Jason Bolden from Netflix’s reality show “Styling Hollywood,” but hearing their seemingly oblivious comments putting these two black women down constantly leaves me with a bad feeling in my stomach. I will not be anticipating another season.

Netflix Releases Heavily Anticipated Second Season of “You”

The second season of the dramatic thriller “You” was released on Netflix on Dec. 26. Joe Goldberg departs from his home of New York and finds a new place of residence and a new love interest in Los Angeles. Beware, this review contains spoilers from season one of “You.” 

Originally released on the Lifetime network, the first season of “You” gained extreme popularity after Netflix picked up the series. This season introduced the character of Joe, a hipster bookkeeper who stayed off of social media and limited his friend group. This all changed when Guinevere Beck, Beck for short, walked into his bookstore and into his life. Consequently he fell in love. 

Becoming heavily interested in Beck’s life, he began to stalk her and her friends both in person and online, readily forming an unhealthy obsession. Blinded by what he called love, Joe killed multiple of Beck’s friends, deeming them unworthy of her. Ultimately, he felt betrayed by Beck herself and killed her, framing the murder on her therapist. With such a shocking ending, the second season was heavily anticipated by thousands of fans. 

The second season starts with Joe finding a new place of living in attempts to evade his rightfully vengeful ex-girlfriend Candace whom he was dating before he killed Beck. When he finds new work at a place called Anavrin, he meets a woman named Love—ironic, right?. She ultimately becomes his new obsession. 

As she is a widow and Joe just got out of a relationship where he claims to have “hurt” his ex—he did way more than just hurt her— Joe and Love try to take things slow.  Joe struggles to evade his instinctual nature of killing others to protect the people he “loves.” He is even taken to a pair of sisters that live in his apartment building and feels the need to watch over them. 

This show is not for everyone. Its dark nature may often leave viewers shaken at the end of the 50 minute episodes. But for some reason, it is intriguing to see how the mind of a serial killer in love such as the character of Joe works. 

Penn Badgley, the actor who portrays the main character of “You” has addressed the problematic nature of being attracted to Joe, and the harm of failing to condemn his violent and behaviors on the show. In an interview with Gina Rodrigiez, he explains the misleading and unhealthy nature of the initial branding of “You:” “I think the logline on Lifetime is ‘how far are you willing to go for love?’…To me, it’s ‘how far are we willing to go to forgive an evil white man?’” It is important to realize the boundaries of enjoyable entertainment and real life.

Shortly after the release of the second season, Netflix confirmed that “You” will be returning for a third season on April 9, 2020. With many people still buzzing about the current season months after its release, many will be excited to see where Joe Goldberg’s violent thought processes lead him to next.

“Sex Education” Reveals Even Raunchier Side In Season 2

Season two of the teenage comedy “Sex Education” continues bringing awkward chuckles to the mouths of its viewers. Following in the footsteps of raunchy shows such as “Big Mouth,” this season may be one of the most ambitious young-adult themed projects Netflix has. Please note, this review has spoilers for “Sex Education” season 1.

The second season of “Sex Education” picks up where the first one ends. Otis and the new girl at school, Ola, are figuring out their own sexuality through their budding relationship. His best friend Eric contemplates his feelings for Adam, the headmaster’s son who got sent off to military school, while a new French boy catches his attention as well. 

At the end of season one, the feminist book-reading Maeve, who is still not over her crush on Otis, got kicked out of their school. With her gone, Otis has sworn off acting as a therapist for their underground sex clinic that they ran together. This does not last long because there is a proclaimed chlamydia outbreak amongst his classmates and they are all berating him for advice. Even Lily, a character with a minor role in the first season who likes drawing tentacle erotica, grows into a major role as she forms a friendship with Ola. 

The first few minutes of the new season are a bit jolting to say the least. It is definitely the most awkward and sexual scene that the series has shown, but somehow it was crafted in an artsy and entertaining way. I will not spoil the content of the scene, but I recommend not watching this first episode with parents. 

Even with the inclusion of the awkward sexual scenes, the show is highly enjoyable. The editing is wonderful and seamless. The scenes are all the perfect length, and there are a wide array of characters that the show moves between through each episode. Watching “Sex Education” is enthralling. The bright colors of the costume choices and the hyperpigmented scenery provides a loud tone of the series that brings a lot of energy and spunk. The color choices and decision to have the students at the school wear their casual clothes instead of traditional British school uniforms makes “Sex Education” seem larger than life. 

The banter between the main characters Otis and Eric is quick and delightful. Their friendship deepens even more throughout the eight episodes of season two. The dialogue is witty and helps the characters become more dynamic. These intriguing elements of the show make it easy to want to sit down with friends and binge the entire series over a few days. 

Honestly, this season’s ending was a bit frustrating. I was expecting a more uplifting finale in contrast to some loose ends and questionable actions of the cast. All of the disappointing plot choices, from the main character Otis suffering a lot of blows to his favorable character along with multiple characters making questionable relationship choices, still does not stop me from wanting a third season. While a follow-up season has not been confirmed by Netflix yet, I still have high hopes.

The End of the F***ing World Increases Its Drama In Second Season

The End of the F***ing World introduces the character of Bonnie in its second season. As this season is released two years after the first season, the episodes occur two years after the finale of season one. (Warning, this article contains spoilers for season two.) 

At the end of season one, James was shot on the beach, leaving the audience unsure if the main character is alive or dead. The first episode of season two completely focuses on Bonnie, an ex-convict that spent time in jail for purposefully hitting a woman with a car. Throughout the episode, Bonnie’s character is developed as one who received emotional and mental abuse from her mother and is a victim of an absent father. In one uncomfortable scene, Bonnie’s mother makes her eat lipstick because she did not allow her daughter to wear makeup. Bonnie failed to live up to the unreachable expectations that her mother had for her to ace school, and she ends up working at a college instead of studying at one like her mom envisioned her to do. 

Bonnie happens to work in the book store at the same college as Professor Clive, the man that James killed in order to protect Alyssa from sexual assault during the last season. Fascinated by his class, Bonnie illegally sits in on his lectures. Eventually, the two become intimate after Clive asks her to come over to his house. Once Bonnie discovers that he has been cheating on her with another student, she runs her over with her car. Evidently willing to do anything for love, Bonnie sets out to murder the two people involved with the killing of Clive: James and Alyssa. 

Both of the characters now 19, they find themselves estranged from each other. James spends time recovering from his bullet wound in the hospital, and Alyssa moves away from their town and develops a relationship with a different boy. Once James’ father dies, he realizes how lonely he is and strives to reconnect with Alyssa. Alyssa realizes that she does not love the boy she is about to marry and runs away from her wedding. The audience is left at the edge of their seats for the majority of the season as the unlikely pair of James and Alyssa are on the road again, running away from their problems. The two main characters are unaware of the danger in their wake as they take on Bonnie, who poses as a hitchhiker in attempts to kill them. 

The series seems to be filmed in a sort of alternate reality, as most of the season is filmed while the main characters are in the same outfits, like a cartoon: James in the suit he wore to his father’s funeral, and Alyssa in the poofy gown she wore when she ran away from her wedding. The setting has a American feel contrary to its British characters, as the storyline primarily takes place across diners, gas stations and motels. Overall, “The End of the F***ing World’s” second season was satisfying.

“Harriet” Movie Fails to Honor Historical Accuracy

For some reason, there had not been a feature film about Harriet Tubman, arguably the most famous abolitionist, until “Harriet” was released this year. “Harriet” follows the origin story of the important historical figure from when she decided to run from her slave master’s farm in Maryland towards freedom. 

The movie begins with Tubman’s husband receiving his freedom papers and asking Tubman’s master if she could be rightfully freed along with her mother and siblings. When this is denied, Tubman is determined to run off to the north by herself to achieve freedom. After being taken in by a free woman who owns a housing facility and then living and working in Philadelphia for a while, she decides to return to Maryland to bring her family with her.

During Tubman’s adolescence, she was hit in the head with a weight when she went to the store. As a result of this incident, she received a dent in the head and experienced what could be interpreted as seizures. Historians hypothesize that she may have had brain damage, narcolepsy or epilepsy because of her injury. Tubman claimed that after this incident, she felt closer to God, and thatThat God would speak to her and lead her and her accompanying travelers through to freedom. The movie emphasized this and her visions throughout the movie, emphasizing that her visions helped guide her and other runaway slaves to freedom. It is incredible to think that, although she suffered physical and emotional abuse and turmoil during her entire life, she was still very successful and giving.

After many successful trips of leading runaway slaves to the north, Tubman became famous among the enslaved, becoming known tothem as “Moses,” as she would sing the gospel song “Go Down Moses” near the fields where slaves worked to indicate that she was there to lead them to freedom. 

I appreciate the core of this movie. Rated PG-13, it is not filled with terrifying scenes of slaves being whipped that will fuel young children’s nightmares. Even so, the sense of bruatality of slavery is not smoothed over. But, I do have a problem with the historical inaccuracies that filled the movie. The movie producers added a substantive sub-plot between the son of Harriet Tubman’s slave master. They renamed the son Gideon and had him hire a black slave catcher named Bigger Long to capture Tubman. The pair confronted Tubman, and they had a faceoff in which Bigger Long died and Tubman shot off Gideon’s fingers. In reality, the slavemaster’s his real name was Johnathon and barely anything is known about him. There was no record of a slave catcher hired by the family to specifically catch Tubman. Also, while there were black slave catchers in existence, there were few. And it would have been very rare for black slave catchers to be prominent in the south (as Maryland was considered the south at that time). 

My point is, history should not be misrepresented to make it more interesting or suitable for the big screen. When I went to the Harriet Tubman Underground Railroad National Historical Park, my attention was fully captured by the interesting and full life of Harriet Tubman and her accomplishments. Having a fictional black slave catcher as a villainous character in a movie that is meant to celebrate black excellence is counterintuitive and detrimental. Harriet Tubman has done wonders for American history and should be represented the most honorable and accurate way possible.

“The Knight Before Christmas” Brings Holiday Cheer

Vanessa Hudgens, best known for her performance in Disney’s “High School Musical” trilogy shines in the Netflix original movie, “The Knight Before Christmas.” In this clean, holiday-themed romance, a 14th century knight named Sir Cole from England is suddenly transported to modern day Ohio where he comes in contact with a kind woman named Brooke.

Sir Cole is uprooted from his world of castles and horses when he stumbles into the forest on a cold day and finds an Old Crone asking for help. This woman puts him in a trance and tells him to “open his heart” while he is away. Once he does this, he will be able to return home. Miraculously, he is transported thousands of miles and hundreds of years away from the place he came to know. 

Confused and still dressed like an elite from the 1300s, Cole walks around a Christmas festival in a small town, urgently searching for the Old Crone to return him home. His goal is to make it back to England during his time period so he can watch his younger brother’s knighting ceremony. Then, he unfortunately gets hit by a car driven by Brooke, which he calls a “steel steed.” Thankfully, he is taken by a police officer to the hospital to get his injuries checked out. Brooke follows them to the hospital, feeling bad that she hit Cole. The doctors believe that Cole has amnesia, because that is way more probable than time travel, and Brooke vows to let Cole stay with her in her home until his memory comes back. 

Cole changes into some modern day clothes that were left by Brooke’s heartbreaking ex, and they begin to form a life together. There are multiple comedic moments in the movie. Cole has funny phrases for modern technology as he refers to the television at Brooke’s house as a “picture box” and the MRI machine at the hospital as a “tube of torture.” After a long night of staying up watching the “picture box,” Cole surprises Brooke with his use of modern slang as he refers to something as “lit AF.” 

This movie has the same simple, mildly entertaining nature of a Hallmark movie. Alexis Mowery (‘20) describes the movie best: “Corny, cheesy, but overall a good Christmas movie.” It is a great film to watch if you want to get into the romantic, funny mood of the holidays. This movie is perfect for people who love any type of cutesy romance, especially if it is holiday-themed. 

There might be a sequel or spinoff to this movie, seeing as there was an end credit scene featuring a minor character that ended on a cliffhanger. If there is to be another movie, I will definitely watch it. There is nothing better to distract yourself from the dread of completing papers and studying for finals than relaxing and watching sappy holiday movies. If you can’t find time to watch “The Knight Before Christmas” during the semester, reward yourself with it when finals are over.

AirPod Pros Are A Waste of Money

Apple released a new and updated version of their AirPods on October 30 at the price of $249. Some of their features are: noise cancellation (to block out the voices of poor people around you), transparency mode that lets you hear what is going on in your environment with just a switch of a button (even though taking the earbuds out of your ears for a moment will do the trick), and an improved microphone that combats against the wind (so you can call people during hurricanes). 

“They look like mini hair dryers!” Maeve Ballantine commented on a picture of them. Yes. That is correct. With fit to size rubber cushion for the inside of the ear spurring from an angled head and a skinny stick-like body, they look like a hair styling tool. 

AirPods have become a fashion choice. Walk around a nearby mall and you will see multiple teenagers sporting the wireless earbuds like they are diamond earrings while hanging out with friends. I can assure you that there’s no music playing in them. @Kneeekole on Twitter wonders, “Why do people wear AirPods like earrings? “ I wonder the same thing. 

A friend of mine recalled a young teen stopping in front of a mirror in Target to put her airpods in her ears to take a selfie, then proceeded to take them out to continue with her shopping. We get it. You have money. 

Don’t spend almost $300 on new AirPod pros when you can get true wireless earbuds in a similar style for ten percent of the price. Sharper Image has sleek, wireless earbuds that charge similarly in their case and have a great battery life and admirable sound for around $30. JBuds has a highly rated model of earbuds that come with a charging case (and do not have a wacky stick attached to them that will hang out from your ear like AirPods) for only $49. Blk pods has a design almost identical to the first generation AirPods at only $56.95; they are just tinted black. There are multiple low-cost options in your local TJMaxx or Marshalls. 

With the release of the new AirPod pros, Walmart is selling the first generation of AirPods at the reduced price of $144. This still isn’t a great deal because of the reports of AirPods dying after two or three years. According to The Atlantic, The lithium-ion batteries are not able to be replaced, and will stop working eventually. This generates an abundance of waste, and causes a deep dent in a college student’s bank account, just to obtain a short-lived device that will certainly end up being a fashion fad. 

If you really want a deal on low price earbuds, go to FiveBelow. They have knockoffs that mirror the white features. You may be discouraged by the charging time lasting longer than it’s playback, though. 

Do not give in to the hype of AirPods. They look like they are missing a string, and half the people I know with them have lost at least one of their earbuds or the charging case. It is not worth it. 

Netflix Show “Raising Dion” Fails To Impress

Produced by star of blockbuster hit “Black Panther” Michael B. Jordan, “Raising Dion” is a show about a widowed single mother raising a young boy named Dion in the second grade who acquires super powers. Throughout the show, Dion’s mother teaches her son the realities of systemic racism as she tries to protect him from outside forces.

The series takes place in Atlanta, and is based on a comic book written by Dennis Liu. When Dion transfers to a new school in the middle of the school year, he struggles to find friends and gets bullied. His mother, Nicole, struggles with mothering her energetic child as she loses her job and remembers the days of when Dion’s father was alive. One day, Dion magically gets powers which give him the ability to levitate objects.

This show has been in the making for a few years, gaining popularity on social media as viewers waited for its premiere. In 2017, a trailer for the series went viral, as individuals were happy to see an interesting drama that includes Black characters. Seeing as children only stay little for so long, by the time “Raising Dion” aired on Netflix, the show had to cast a different actor than the one that appeared in the original trailer to play Dion. But the production team cast a fairer-skinned Black woman to play Dion’s mother, as compared to the dark-skinned woman who originally was casted for the character in the original trailer. Additionally, in the comic the mother had darker skin. 

Some people were taken aback by this casting decision. @rosechocglam on Twitter said, “The mom on #RaisingDion is the lightest black woman on the show. It’s like the producers had to make the mom light skin so the viewers could feel empathy for her grief and struggles. Man, colorism in Hollywood is a trip.” Another user,@YallAllLuvCris, raised concerns about the casting and racial representation: “That Raising Dion show is good, but damn they couldn’t give the mom a black love interest? I’d rather a little black boy have another black male figure to look up to than John Ritter’s son…no disrespect, but still.” 

Overall, the execution of the series is sub-par. The production value is high as the setting is shown extensively and with good camera quality, but the writing could be better. The beginning scene of the pilot episode was cheesy, and did not make me want to continue and gave the feeling that it was at the climax of a trailer of a fantasy movie from the nineties. It is understandably difficult to create a show that is appealing to both younger and older viewers, but “Raising Dion” did not hit the mark. 

There is no word of a second season of “Raising Dion,” but there is still plenty of time for Netflix to release a statement. “Raising Dion” is not being advertised much, so there is a possibility of the show not receiving enough viewers to support another season.

A Television Adaptation of “Looking For Alaska” Premieres on Hulu

In Hulu’s original mini-series “Looking For Alaska,” main character Miles, nicknamed Pudge despite his skinny nature, is on a search for his Great Perhaps. 

In the television show, Miles is bored of his life as he lacks a solid friend group in suburban Florida. Obsessed with reading his father’s collection of biographies, his talent is memorizing the last words of famous individuals. He was inspired by Francois Rabelais, a French poet’s last words: “I go to seek a Great Perhaps.” Miles does not want to wait until he is dead to find his Great Perhaps, so he decides to go to Culver Creek, a boarding school that his father attended as a teenager. There, he is taken in by a friend group that loves to pull pranks and includes a girl named Alaska, for whom Miles quickly develops an infatuation. 

Watching “Looking For Alaska” is nostalgic for the college student. Based on John Green’s novel by the same name, the film takes place in Alabama during the year 2005. The production really highlights the plot’s early 2000’s nature, as cell phones are not very common to have, Alaska listens to music on the now discontinued iPod Classic and Miles prints out directions from Mapquest in order for his family to drive him to the boarding school instead of relying on a GPS. 

It is good that the television show takes place in the same time period in which the book was published, because many of the themes of the story are not as prevalent in today’s society. For example, most of the main characters smoke cigarettes and wear baggy clothes. Additionally, it is easy for Miles to avoid staying in contact with his parents since he has to use a payphone to call them, and they cannot use cell phone tracking software to discover his whereabouts. 

The series follows the original storyline of the novel closely, changing few scenes and elements of the story in order to make it more dramatic and appealing for television. For example, in the novel when Miles’ parents throw him a going away party, two people from his school show up. In the movie, it is only his mother and father that attend. Additionally, one of the main characters, The Colonel, is African-American in the television show, and in the novel he is white. 

Overall, the production value for “Looking For Alaska” is high. With eight 45-minute episodes, it is a fulfilling series. John Green is a producer of the show, so that explains why the series aligns itself so closely to the original story. Also, it is a fan favorite with a rating of 90% on Rotten Tomatoes. 

Since “Looking For Alaska” is a mini-series, there likely will not be a second season. If you like the style of the storyline, you can watch “The Fault In Our Stars” and “Paper Towns” which are two movie adaptations of other novels written by John Green. Additionally, Green’s most recent novel is entitled “Turtles All The Way Down” and is available through the USMAI catalog.