into it

Love Is Like Solitary Confinement

Photo: Adrian S. Burrows Sr./Netflix

Nick Thompson isn’t complaining he got a villain edit. He’s not complaining he was made to drink too much. What he is complaining about is the experience of near-total isolation he says he experienced on Love Is Blind. “You’re on set for 18, 20 hours and then you get sent back to a hotel room,” he says. “You give up your phone, your wallet, your passport. You’re not allowed to leave the hotel room without permission. You can’t really comprehend what it’s like to be isolated like that.” (Netflix and Kinetic Content, the production company behind Love Is Blind, did not respond to a request for comment.) Yes, he signed up for an experience that ultimately led to his engagement and marriage on a reality show. Yes, he read his contract. He still wasn’t prepared for the physical and psychological toll that the experience took. “I don’t have a lot of patience for the ‘You Signed Up For It’ crowd anymore because they’re upset about something in their life and they’re projecting that onto reality cast members who are clearly exploited and subjected to defamation and misrepresentation,” he says. “You don’t know what it’s actually like until you live it.”

Thompson is now calling for better working conditions on the sets of reality-TV shows. He’s started UCAN, a nonprofit organization focused on organizing reality-TV professionals. He’s seen Bethenny Frankel’s call for better pay, as well as the legal letter sent to Bravo threatening a potential lawsuit over an alleged “pattern and practice of grotesque and depraved mistreatment of reality stars and crew members.” Thompson thinks all these things together mean that change is coming for reality TV, whether the industry likes it or not. Subscribe below and listen to the full episode of Into It to hear more about ongoing efforts to unionize reality-TV workers and why Nick compares his experience on Love Is Blind to being in The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.

Into It with Sam Sanders

Love Is Like Solitary Confinement