A lot of people get a raw deal on Love Is Blind. There’s Mark, the mature 24-year-old who pairs up with Jessica, an immature 34-year-old who feeds her dog wine. (“She loves wine,” Jessica claims, in a moment sure to horrify veterinarians everywhere.) There’s Carlton and Diamond, whose relationship immediately takes a nosedive when they meet in real life, in part because of Carlton’s newfound passion for making possessive and sexual comments, and in part because of Diamond’s inability to handle that her new partner is bisexual. But nobody has it worse than Westley and Taylor—and if you’ve watched Love Is Blind and don’t know who they are, that’s my point.
The premise of Love Is Blind is that 13 men and 16 women have conversations through a wall for 10 days and then must decide whether to get married without ever meeting their partner face-to-face. The idea behind this setup is that true relationships are forged by emotional bonds, not physical attractiveness, so you’ve got a better chance of finding a partner if your first interaction with a person is a blind conversation rather than, I don’t know, watching them emerge from a limo. (Somewhat negating this proposition is that everybody on the show is at least modestly hot. Can’t wait for the sequel, Love Is Blind 2: The Uglies Emerge.)
After the opening title sequence of the premiere episode, the first man we hear from is Westley. He gives an elevator pitch that sums up the show’s presumably radical premise, and how it might help him specifically. “I’m short,” Westley says. “And there are women out there who won’t date guys who are shorter. It’s a bummer, but being in this facility, we’re really getting down to what matters most.” Less than a minute into the show, I was already rooting for our diminutive underdog. Would our Short King’s big heart win someone over before they saw his tiny frame?
Alas, we do not find out. After his “I’m short” confession, Wittle Westley appears only one other time on Love Is Blind.
Nineteen minutes into the premiere, Westley is seen talking to a group of men as they debrief their interactions with the women. “Is anyone a virgin here?” Westley asks. “Because, like, somebody asked me that.” A man wearing a blazer sheepishly raises his hand. We find out that this man’s name is Taylor, as he then gets a chance to tell America his thoughts on virginity. “Every girl grows up waiting for their Prince Charming. I want to make sure that this is it, that this is the one, and I’m willing to wait for it.” I wouldn’t say that I was rooting for Taylor as hard as I was for Westley—Taylor, for your future wife’s sake, please have sex with somebody before you get married—but I was curious to see whether he’d find his princess.
Alas, we also do not find out. Taylor turns out to be a bit more noticeable than Westley over the course of the first episode. He is seen several times interacting with other men on the show while wearing outfits you’d expect from the world’s broiest stock trader at happy hour after the markets close; we see him partake in a brief push-up contest; we see him urge fellow contestant Barnett to add more wine to an already comically full wine glass; we see that he is the first to congratulate Damian on his engagement. But like Westley, he never gets solo camera time again, and is never shown talking to any of the show’s women.
Normally, when a reality show devotes early screen time to a contestant, it’s a sign that they’ll end up being a central figure. Even if what they say is irrelevant in the grand scheme of the show, it’s how we get emotionally attached to the characters who make the show interesting. So I figured that when the opening minutes of the show were devoted to Westley and Taylor opening up about their perceived flaws and how they had hindered them in past relationships, Love Is Blind would track their stories over the course of a season and reveal how they found love and acceptance.
Nope! The threads go nowhere. For some reason, the show just let one guy tell millions of viewers about his height-related insecurities and another guy admit that he had never had sex before—and then it just hung them out to dry.
I can't stop thinking about the soul who went on Love is Blind to announce he's an adult virgin only to never be seen again— Cassidy Olsen (@olsencassidy) February 24, 2020
The Love is Blind producers really played the guy who said he was a 36 year old virgin in front of everyone and then never gave him a story line— asher (@ashsuttt) February 27, 2020
thinking about the guy in the first episode of Love Is Blind who says “i’m a virgin” and then is never seen again— Sam Fishell (@SamFishell) February 27, 2020
There are a few other people whose time on the show is brief and somewhat embarrassing. There is Jon, whose only appearance features him identifying the woman in the other pod as “African American” based on her voice, which turns out to be less of an icebreaker than he thought it would be. There’s Ryan, whose only appearance is when he explains to a woman that he’s looking for someone who is “in shape and beautiful,” on a show where contestants are supposed to focus on things besides physical appearance. At least duds on The Bachelor get a rose ceremony where they are eliminated and an opportunity to cry to the camera about how they thought they would find love. Westley, Taylor, Jon, and Ryan are merely vanished.
Love Is Blind almost instantly moves on to following the six couples who do eventually get engaged. By the second episode, every minute is spent following the 12 contestants in these couples and their brief interactions with other castmates. By the third episode, the couples go on a honeymoon-type vacation in Mexico. In the sixth episode, the couples move into apartments together (in Atlanta, where all of the contestants live) and start going back to their jobs and figuring out if their relationships can handle real life. While the portion of the show when the contestants interacted through a wall may be the show’s signature hook, it really starts to get interesting when the couples who fell in love sight unseen begin living with each other.
So the show had to decide what to do with all the other contestants. It seems like they had two options:
- Ignore them totally. This would’ve been awkward—after all, there are a lot of scenes of the men and women interacting in their respective living areas in between “dates,” and if the show hadn’t explained who all the people were, you’d be like, “Hey, who’s that short guy?”
- Flesh out their story lines a bit, show them trying and failing to start romances, and move on. This could’ve been interesting! I would’ve liked to see why pod romances didn’t work.
Instead, Love Is Blind took the awkward middle path; they showed these guys just long enough for them to modestly embarrass themselves and then pretended they didn’t exist. Now the whole world knows about Westley’s height-related insecurities and Taylor’s virginity, and literally nothing else about them. As a veteran reality TV watcher, I suppose I get it—it’s tough to do much with the people who don’t find partners.
But that’s where things get weird. Because as it turns out, Westley did find love on Love Is Blind. He got engaged to Lexie, a woman who also gets relatively little screen time. As the show’s producers explained, they went into filming worrying that nobody would get engaged on the show—and then had eight couples get engaged. For whatever reason, the show decided to focus on only six of the eight—maybe they didn’t think we could simultaneously follow eight relationships; maybe they didn’t think they could tell the story in the number of episodes Netflix ordered; maybe they didn’t have the resources to simultaneously film eight couples; maybe they just didn’t want to pay for eight weddings. One of the engagements that didn’t make it to air features Rory, a contestant frequently seen serving as an amateur therapist to other contestants struggling in their relationships. Another featured Westley. Executive producer Chris Coelen is pretty clear about saying that there were eight engagements.)
Westley talked to People about his relationship with Lexie, and it honestly sounds like it would have been really good TV! Eventually they broke up. Was it because he’s short in real life? We’ll never know. Either way, things appear to have worked out pretty well for Westley, who is now successfully thirst-trapping to his nearly 50,000 Instagram followers. (One of his most recent pictures reveals that he’s almost as tall as a baby elephant, which might be the greatest Short Guy Looking Tall on Instagram trick I’ve ever seen. I don’t know how tall baby elephants are! Is Westley 7-foot-3?)
Not so much, though, for Taylor, who has fewer than 1,000 followers and has yet to post about his appearance on the show. He put himself out there, opened up about his virginity, and probably assumed that when he couldn’t find a woman, the show would simply edit him out. Instead, it kept in his most revealing confession and then pretended he never existed. Really tough break. Hopefully, Taylor’s appearance on the show will convince at least one woman to be his Princess Charming.