Love is Blind’s second season premiered Netflix on February 11th, with episodes rolling out over the course of a few weeks. The season took social media by storm, with each user having a different opinion on which people were the best and worst of the season. While every couple had their problems, four characters are among the most hotly contested: Danielle Ruhl, Shayne Jansen, Abhishek “Shake” Chatterjee, and Shaina Hurley. These summaries of each character detail their time on the show, as well as what social media has to say about them.
While none of the characters had an easy go when it came to media portrayal, Danielle particularly struggled. During the show, she often mentioned that she found it hard to believe that someone could actually love her after losing a lot of weight and fearing that she could gain it back. However, these insecurities were often perceived as self-sabotaging and manipulative. For instance, in Mexico, viewers watched as she told Nick to go to the couples’ party (despite Danielle being sick) and then yelled at him as soon as he got home, arguing that he shouldn’t have left her. She told him that she locked herself in the closet for three hours as the situation “triggered her.” Viewers instantly took to Twitter after this event, arguing over whether or not Nick did the right thing.
Since the season has aired, Danielle has reported that the show misrepresented her mental health by portraying her as “crazy” and “toxic”, particularly during the Mexico trip. Two days after the season launched, she posted on Instagram saying that “One thing that is being inaccurately speculated about is the panic attack I had in Mexico. The true story is that I told Nick about a traumatic experience I had in college right before I encouraged him to go to the couple’s party without me to represent us as a couple.” She continues on, saying “I am fully aware that I can project my anxiety onto others and it is something I am constantly working on.” Finally, she asks readers to stop diagnosing her with “...every disorder in the book.”
Danielle’s situation is a perfect example of what is wrong with many media outlets in this day and age. In order to gain viewers, reality producers often unfairly capitalize on and misrepresent people’s insecurities. They believe it is much more entertaining to watch someone have a mental breakdown than to have a healthy conversation. It is therefore important for viewers to help break the stigma surrounding mental health and think about how a situation might be glamorized or dramatized before taking to social media and making statements like “Danielle is annoyingly insecure like girl get a grip.”
As the main focus of the first love triangle on the show, Shayne is someone whose actions and words can never be predicted. Weirdly enough, he and his fiancée, Natalie, were assumed to be one of the only couples who would say yes at the altar. He struggled with her dry sense of humor as he wanted constant affirmation, but in relation to some of the other couples, they seemed fairly stable.
Shayne was depicted as childish and disloyal, and he had multiple interactions in the pods with another cast member, Shaina. As he was planning on proposing to Natalie, Shaina came into the pods and decided that, even after avoiding Shayne for days, she wanted to be engaged to him. Rather than staying firm in his decision, Shayne complained that this messed up his plans and stated that he wished she had said all of this sooner. On top of this, he lied to Shaina about Natalie being his girlfriend.
On Twitter, many viewers argue that Shayne was high on drugs throughout most of the show to account for many of his mannerisms. They also point out that he is a master of gaslighting, as he worked to make Natalie feel even worse about their relationship during the reunion. Shayne is depicted as someone who is emotionally abusive, apologizing for an outburst he had the night before their wedding, but coaxing an apology out of Natalie as well. While watching this all unfold on reality TV may be entertaining, it is important to realize the reality of the situation and come to terms with the fact that abuse is not always physical, and it can come in many shapes and sizes.
Allegedly, Shayne and Natalie continued dating for months after Natalie said no at the altar, although their attempt was ultimately unsuccessful. At the reunion, it is also noted that Shayne and Shaina saw each other at least one other time, but it most likely did not end well based on Shayne’s reaction.
Shake began the season as a misogynistic antagonist and left the season the exact same way. While he showed some signs of progress throughout the season after becoming engaged to Deepti, the efforts weren't very effective. During their relationship, Deepti and Shake seemed to get along fairly well in a platonic sense. However, Shake told viewers and the other male cast members that he was not sexually attracted to Deepti in any way, and that he saw too many similarities between her and his aunt.
Most of Shake’s horrific attributes came to the surface after the show, especially during the reunion. Starting from the beginning of the reunion episode, every time Shake speaks, a different cast member tells him to stop. They roll their eyes at him, and say that no one wants to hear what he has to say. It is evident that the other cast members truly hate him. It can be assumed, based on these attitudes, that the previous eight episodes of the season did not showcase everything he had actually done. In fact, Natalie even says that the things he said to Deepti in the show were “watered down” compared to reality.
Shake’s misogyny is revealed beginning in the first episode, when Shake asks the women if they are light enough for him to carry them on his shoulders at a music festival. He strays from the main focus of the show, to fall in love blindly, and attempts to find every loophole available. Shake is the character that women know all too well: the man who focuses only on physical appearances and constantly reminds others that “it’s not preference, it’s just standards.” Watching him say these things to women on television is too familiar, and it is not surprising that he was not punished in any capacity (at least not until he received hate from other cast members at the reunion). While many reality shows are fun because they are ironically far from reality, Shake hits a little too close to home.
Since the reunion, Shake has received a tattoo that states “Is love enough?”, evidently taunting the show and viewers after host Vanessa Lachey asked Shake if he thought he was on the wrong dating show. He also released an apology to Deepti, saying he is “truly sorry for some of the things [he] said.”
Seen as the main antagonist of Season 2, Shaina was the conservative, God loving character that liked to stir the pot as much as possible. Starting off in the pods, she made it very clear that she wanted to be engaged to Shayne. She and Shayne had a playful relationship, with Shayne always asking what she was wearing, since he obviously could not see her through the wall of the pod. He particularly favored when she wore crop tops.
Shaina accepted Kyle’s proposal, after making it very clear that she was not super into him. She feared that their differences in religious views would cause too much adversity in their relationship, eventually leaving him in Mexico despite his attempts at compromise. Many viewers argue that this was an excuse, and that she really only broke up with him so that she could pursue Shayne later on.
The main problem that people had with Shaina was when she tried to break Shayne and Natalie up by deeming their relationship “fake” and “laughable.” She also told Natalie that if their relationship didn’t work out that “she knew a guy” for Natalie to pursue. Shaina seemed like the person that Netflix kept on the show as an instigator, and she ended up doing her job. Despite standing on a pedestal and preaching about her morals, Shaina stooped low, trying to break up a couple that, at the time, was perfectly happy.
Currently, the main thing that Twitter is focused on regarding Shaina is her extreme squinting during the reunion. She has since released a statement claiming that she was wearing contacts and just has bad eyesight. Maybe love is just blurry?
While reality shows are mainly fun and games, it is important to keep in mind that they can create many false narratives that many viewers take too seriously. Contestants can easily be hurt by the hundreds of thousands of comments people make without thinking about their repercussions and the effect their words can have. That being said, it will be interesting to see where the contestants' relationships go in the future, and hopefully their lives will regain some stability and normality soon.