Three seasons into Love Is Blind, one of Netflix’s many reality dating programs disguised as “social experiments,” I continue to be shocked at the events that transpire in this outrageous series. From contestants proclaiming their love for each other after only a few days to one man whipping out a bottle of eye drops to fake-cry on camera, the show’s proceedings are anything but calm and collected.
Nothing, however, is more outlandish than the continued presence of Nick and Vanessa Lachey as hosts.
Each season of Love Is Blind, which premiered on Netflix in 2020, features a group of people who meet, date, and, in some cases, become engaged while communicating solely through “pods,” in which they’re not able to see each other. In other words, the show was crafted to be inherently insufferable.
As a reality TV junkie, I am naturally entertained by the Love Is Blind antics just as much as I am horrified by the increasingly unhinged men who somehow win the hearts of women who deserve far better. Beyond the nearly uncountable number of red flags displayed by the ensemble, there is another factor that remains constant on each season of the show: the aforementioned, utterly useless hosts, Nick and Vanessa Lachey.
I fully believe that removing the Lacheys from the show—it’s never really clear why they’re there anyway—would significantly improve the quality and tone down the annoyingness considerably.
Nick Lachey, for the uninitiated, is best known to many for having been married to multi-hyphenate Jessica Simpson in the aughts, as was notably documented on their 2003-2005 reality Newlyweds: Nick and Jessica. Although I spent much of my life convinced he was in NSYNC, he is actually a member of pop-R&B boy band 98 Degrees. Now, he is recognized more for spinning through a carousel of various reality television gigs—in addition to being a “wife guy” to actress and model Vanessa Lachey (née Minnillo), to whom he has been married for 11 years.
The pair have built a polished image around their “strong” and “healthy” relationship, so, at first glance, their role as hosts on a marriage-centric series should be fitting. But for the past two years on the series, the Lacheys have been doing an extremely poor job at the seemingly simple task of being entertaining presenters. Their focus on themselves is often a superfluous distraction—and that’s when they’re even around at all.
A television host traditionally exists to guide contestants—and viewers, by extension—through the intricate operations of a reality show’s structure, while also mediating discussions between the individuals involved. Think Top Chef’s Padma Lakshmi, Nikki Glaser of FBoy Island, or even Takashi Fujii and Yuka Itaya, who are much more successful at leading Love Is Blind: Japan.
But on the U.S. Love Is Blind, the Lachey duo serve less as guides for the eager, love-starved contestants and more like props who turn every discussion back to themselves. They typically appear every so often to make it known that they are, indeed, Nick and Vanessa Lachey, followed by blink-and-you’ll-miss-it chats with the contestants about each stage of the process before once again disappearing. (Luckily for us, this season Nick wisely chooses to drop the sarcastic “obviously” he frequently peppered in while introducing himself.)
Both Nick and Vanessa have an extensive resume of TV hosting gigs, having emceed Miss USA together in 2018 and 2019 in addition to a handful of solo roles. Given that experience, it’s surprising how dull their presence has been on all three seasons of Love Is Blind. It’s a struggle to understand how, of all the C-list celebrities currently on the planet, Netflix landed on them for the gig.
I don’t personally have anything against the Lacheys, but their roles on the show could easily be removed from the show or they could be replaced—petition to get Lauren and Cameron, one of the only successful Love Is Blind pairings, to take over hosting duties—and their lack of presence would have little impact. Since they make such rare appearances, it’s easy to forget that they are the hosts of the series, or that the series even has hosts at all. What is the point of putting the Lacheys on screen for such little time that you eventually forget their purpose?
After the initial success of Love Is Blind, the streamer continued collaborating with the Lacheys, spawning what is essentially their own marriage-focused reality TV empire—and they must be stopped.
Last year, they hosted The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On, which takes on an even more unhinged premise than its predecessor by spotlighting six couples figuring out if they want to get married by dating one another. That’s followed by a three-week trial marriage, before they decide if they want to remain with their initial partner or pursue a new relationship.
Given the pressure these couples are under to make important life-altering decisions, you’d imagine that people who are more equipped to handle these situations, such as relationship experts and therapists would be on-hand. Instead, we get the Lacheys.
They don’t have much insight to offer, besides repeatedly trying to convince everyone that the goal of The Ultimatum is emotional growth and the strengthening of monogamous heterosexual relationships. “Psychologists agree an ultimatum is not a good way to get someone else to do what you want,” Nick Lachey tells the contestants early on. “But it is the best way to get you the answers you need on a timetable you can live with.” Seems like a trustworthy assessment...
The one thing that constantly bugs me about the couple’s participation in these shows is that they take every opportunity to throw in personal anecdotes about their lives. They are constantly connecting elements of Love Is Blind and The Ultimatum back to their own relationship, whether it’s saying that they would have gotten engaged had they met in the pods, or the revelation that Vanessa issued an ultimatum to Nick after five years of dating. Can a 16-year-long relationship really be compared to partnerships that are forced to quickly escalate within the span of a few weeks?
They intend for these stories to come across as cute, relatable, and inspiring, but instead they end up being cringey and carry a condescending tone. That’s especially true when you consider how they frame these manipulative dating conditions as being helpful to relationships, for the sake of making entertaining television that they cash in on.
The pair aren’t completely irredeemable as hosts. In the Season 2 reunion of Love Is Blind, released earlier this year, they scored brownie points by calling out contestants’ obnoxious behavior. After the season’s villain, Abhishek “Shake” Chatterjee, made gross comments about the women’s physical appearances and compared marriage to making a “really big purchase,” Vanessa chastised him for berating women, while Nick pointed out that Shake may have been seeking something too conventional.
But it’s a stretch to give them the benefit of the doubt for this. The majority of the cast barely got in two words otherwise, since so much of the one-hour runtime was dedicated to the Lacheys tracing every discussion back to their devoted relationship.
No matter how messy, frustrating, and downright terrible Love Is Blind can get, I can’t help but think that the one element dragging it down further is the Lacheys. My plea to Netflix: If you care to alleviate some of the pain we must endure during these binge-worthy, but increasingly awful-and-not-in-a-fun-way shows, please shut down the Nick and Vanessa Lachey Reality TV Universe before it gets too out of hand.