Love Is Blind’s production company, Kinetic Content, responded after former cast members of the reality series claimed they were put through “emotional warfare” during their time on the show.
“The well-being of our participants is of paramount importance to Kinetic,” the production company told Variety in a Tuesday, April 18, statement. “We have rigorous protocols in place to care for each person before, during, and after filming.”
Earlier on Tuesday, Business Insider published a report on the Netflix dating series that featured multiple contestants claiming they were mistreated while participating in the streaming hit.
Season 2 star Danielle Ruhl — who got engaged to ex-husband Nick Thompson during her time in the pods — told the outlet that she had issues with production while in Mexico. The Illinois native claimed that she was not allowed to attend an event being held for all the couples because there was a chance she contracted COVID-19. After she began to have a panic attack, she allegedly hid in the closet to avoid cameras and told producers she didn’t feel mentally stable enough to stay on the show.
“I kept telling them, ‘I don’t trust myself. I’ve tried committing suicide before,’” she explained to Business Insider. “’I’m having suicidal thoughts. I don’t think I can continue in this.’”
The report also claimed that during the show’s first season, which aired in February 2020 and filmed in Atlanta, Georgia, contestants were forced to sleep in “drab trailers crammed with bunk beds during the 10 days dating in the pods.” All 15 women allegedly stayed in “one single-room trailer, with the 15 men in another.”
Danielle Drouin, who appeared on the debut season, claimed that the groups also didn’t have enough access to food or water. “The sleep deprivation was real,” she said. “I feel like they do it on purpose because they’re trying to break you. They want you on your edge.”
According to the outlet, Love Is Blind contracts stipulate that the cast is required to pay $50,000 in damages to Kinetic Content if they exit the show prematurely without producer approval. The report also claims that engaged couples are obligated to show up to their wedding even if they don’t intend to say “I do.”
Business Insider’s story comes less than a year after season 2 contestant Jeremy Hartwell filed a lawsuit against Netflix and the producers, making a series of allegations about how the show treated cast members — which included Drouin’s claims that the group was deprived of certain necessities.
“They intentionally underpaid the cast members, deprived them of food, water and sleep, plied them with booze and cut off their access to personal contacts and most of the outside world. This made cast members hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making,” Hartwell’s attorney, Chantal Payton of Payton Employment Law, PC, of Los Angeles, claimed in a statement in July 2022. “The contracts required contestants to agree that if they left the show before filming was done, they would be penalized by being required to pay $50,000 in ‘liquidated damages.’ With that being 50 times what some of the cast members would earn during the entire time that they worked, this certainly had the potential to instill fear in the cast and enable production to exert even further control.”
Hartwell’s lawsuit serves as “a proposed class action on behalf of all participants in Love Is Blind and other non-scripted productions” created by Kinetic Content from 2018 to 2022, per the Chicago native’s legal team.
In the court documents obtained by Us Weekly at the time, Hartwell alleged that the cast wasn’t able to contact their family or friends upon arrival, which is not uncommon for many reality competition series. “At times, defendants left members of the cast alone for hours at a time with no access to a phone, food, or any other type of contact with the outside world until they were required to return to working on the production,” the docs read.
Kinetic Content, for their part, denied there was any truth to Hartwell’s allegations.
“Mr. Hartwell’s involvement in Season 2 of Love is Blind lasted less than one week. Unfortunately, for Mr. Hartwell, his journey ended early after he failed to develop a significant connection with any other participant,” Kinetic told Us in a statement at the time. “While we will not speculate as to his motives for filing the lawsuit, there is absolutely no merit to Mr. Hartwell’s allegations, and we will vigorously defend against his claims.”