‘Love Is Blind’ Creator Confronts Cast Members’ Allegations

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Love Is Blind creator Chris Coelen is breaking his silence on the allegations from former cast members who have alleged “inhumane working conditions” and a lack of mental health support. Coelen calls the claims against the show “insulting” and “disrespectful to anyone who’s participated.”

Jeremy Hartwell, a season 2 cast member of the hit reality show, sued Netflix and the show’s production company Kinetic Content in 2022. While season 2’s Nick Thompson and Danielle Ruhl spoke out a year later in an interview with Business Insider alleging that they were mistreated, traumatized, and exhausted while filming the show.

Kinetic previously denied all the allegations. But Coelen is speaking out for the first time in a new interview with Variety where he claims every cast member is protected physically and mentally throughout filming and long after their season ends.

Hartwell’s lawsuit alleges “isolation” during filming was unbearable as he was left alone for hours “with no access to a phone, food, or any other type of contact with the outside world.”

Coelen argues Hartwell’s claim that he was held “prisoner” is “insane,” since production is “really transparent about the detail of what participating in Love Is Blind entails.”

“We tell them that they won’t be able to travel freely while they’re in the pods,” Coelen says. “We tell them they won’t have phones or TV or internet service in the pods or in their hotel rooms where they stay or in the romantic getaways. You’re asked to stay in your hotel to protect the integrity of the experiment. We disconnect their phones and internet so they can’t get online because people are tempted to look people up.”

Coelen also refutes Hartwell’s claims of enduring 20-hour workdays with sleep deprivation and a lack of food and water saying that the pods are never open for more than 16 hours a day.

Additionally, he says cast members can sleep in the lounge while not on dates in the pods and they’re allowed to take a shuttle back to their hotel at any time. Coelen adds that the production provides multiple catered meals a day, as well as bottled water in the lounge.

Coelen says he was shocked by Hartwell’s lawsuit. Claiming that the season 2 cast member had “started crying” when producers asked him to leave since he hadn’t formed connections. “He literally begged and pleaded us to stay in the pods,” Coelen says.

The reality show creator says of Hartwell’s claims of “an excess of alcohol” on set. That he talks to the cast about drinking at the start of each season.

“Every season, I say … ‘I personally recommend that you don’t drink to excess, because I personally don’t think that’s a good way to connect with your potential spouse. Especially doing it through a wall,” Coelen says. “‘Whether you want to drink or don’t want to drink, it’s up to you.'”

“I affirm and stand by the allegations as stated in the lawsuit,” Hartwell said in a statement to Variety. “I will continue to act in the best interest of the class in the pursuit of truth and justice. I have no further comment beyond this as the evidence and eventual outcome of the lawsuit will stand on its own merit.”

Coelen also addressed Ruhl’s allegations that she told producers about her past suicidal ideations before filming began.

“These are very serious issues that she describes,” he responds. “And if her recent allegations about her mental health history are true, unfortunately she didn’t disclose this before filming.”

Coelen says Rulh’s claims of having a panic attack in Mexico and asking to leave aren’t true.

“She didn’t inform the production team that she was having any thoughts of self-harm. If she had, we wouldn’t have continued to film with her,” he says. “She never asked anyone in production ever to leave the show. She was free to leave the experiment at any time, as many participants have in the past. I urge all potential participants to always prioritize their own well-being, above being on TV, or participating in this experiment. No matter how great the upside might potentially be.”

“It wasn’t something I specifically noted in the application itself,” Ruhl tells the outlet. “I had conversations with producers. I had conversations with therapists, but to their point, it was nothing that had been written down, so whether or not something had been communicated to them, I don’t know. I will admit that, at the time of filming, I did say that I was in a really good mental space” But she stands by her claim that she informed producers about her panic attack in Mexico and that she asked to leave.

Coelen also refuted claims that the show doesn’t supply mental health support for its cast members.

He says that psychologists are always present during the pods, and when the couples move in together, they are all given the number for a hotline to talk with a specialist who is available 24/7. He also says that they encourage participants to go to therapy after the show, and the production company covers any cost.

Admitting that there used to be a clause in the contract stating contestants will be fined $50,000 if they leave early, he says “We never have enforced it. We’ve never threatened to enforce it … Frankly, it is contradictory to everything we do on any of our shows.” The clause was removed from the contract in recent seasons, according to Coelen.

Love Is Blind season 5 is currently releasing new episodes on Fridays, leading up to the Oct. 13 finale.

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Chiara

Source: Variety

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