Love Is Blind, Netflix’s unhinged reality show, returned for its third season this month. After a hard season in Chicago, the series moved to the South with five couples in Dallas, Texas—the home of cowboys, barbecue, sprawling suburban life, and one of the strictest abortion bans in the country.
Why, you may ask, am I bringing up abortion in a recap of a trashy Netflix reality show? Because a woman on the show finally addressed the full spectrum of family planning when discussing a relationship’s future with her anti-abortion fiancé, and I’m stoked about it!!!!!! But let me back up.
To the uninitiated, Love Is Blind puts a couple dozen heterosexual singles in gender-segregated housing connected to a long hall full of doors to “pods.” In the pod, there’s a couch, blankets and an opaque wall, through which one can talk to another single in their own pod. For two weeks, they go on pod dates, getting to know each other without ever seeing each other. They talk so much and so deeply that some of these singles fall in love and propose to each other, sight unseen. Once engaged, the pair is finally allowed to meet face to face. Rings are exchanged, and five couples go on their mini-moon vacation to learn more about each other. Then, there’s another three to four weeks back in their hometown (Dallas, this season) of living together, trying to work out if they’ll actually say “I do” at the altar.
It’s in that return-to-real-life liminal period that one couple is forced to confront differing views on abortion as they discuss how and if they would have children. Nancy Rodriguez is a now 32-year-old real estate investor and speech-language pathologist. Bartise is a 27-year-old accountant and body builder. Their age difference is widely discussed on the show, as Nancy does want to birth children.
It’s 15 days until the wedding, and the pair is folding laundry. The conversation starts innocuously: How do you feel about having paid help for children, like a nanny? They agree it’s crucial. When do you want to have kids? He says two years from now, at a minimum. Nancy counters that she’s already 31, and worried about complications in pregnancy among older women. “My mom had me at 36, and it was fine,” Bartise replies, completely missing the point.
His idiocy doesn’t derail our hero, Nancy, a woman who calmly and maturely probes Bartise’s feelings on pregnancies of all kinds: “Thank God your mom was fine at 36, but what would you do if you did find out that your child had a birth defect and you could abort the pregnancy. Do you want to keep the baby?”
Immediately, Bartise says, “Fuck, no. Yeah, keep the baby. Yeah. I could not... Fuck no.”
Okay, got it. Bartise is anti-abortion, got it, got it. “They could be boy, girl. They could be, you know, transgender, they can do whatever. I just wanna love that kid no matter what. Three legs, whatever it comes out, is, like, gonna be my—our kid,” he says. Of course, being transgender is not remotely the same as having a birth defect incompatible with life outside the womb.
Nancy takes this all in stride. Using ‘I’ statements to talk about her work as a speech-language pathologist, she discusses the hardships she has seen families go through in her clinic. “I think it’s different for me. I’ve seen so much in my field. It was so emotionally draining and so sad that I would cry almost every day. A lot of time, even just with Down Syndrome, there’s so many complication. medical and also, learning complication. And I see the amount of trauma that it does to the family,” Nancy says. “For me, if I knew I could try again and hope that the second time it was better, I could go that route to be honest.”
Bartise is so taken aback. “Really? I would never. I could never do that. Especially knowing we’re trying to have a kid. Just...just abort mission because they’re gonna have some challenges and we’re gonna have some challenges? I’m mentally tough enough to handle whatever challenge that may present. And I just could never pull the plug like that,” Bartise continues.
What about unplanned pregnancies, Nancy asks. Again, she’s so smart, simply asking non-judgmental questions to understand where he’s coming from. He fumbles the ball again: “If it’s unplanned, and you’re like, youthful and still learning, I think you can get one pass… If you’re not financially ready for it, if there’s no way the family can take care of it and it’s just going to be a terrible situation, and you’re young… I think you get one pass, but you can’t do it again.”
I applaud him for being so honest with someone who is essentially still interviewing him for marriage.
“Oh that’s interesting. I don’t think there’s a number you can say,” Nancy replies. “Cause what if the second time you get raped? And then the third time, you have sex with someone who poked a hole in the condom because they want to spread their seed?”
Later, she asks Bartise about emergency contraception, which he says he’s bought. Emergency contraception like Plan B is different than having an abortion, which does make him more informed than many politicians making decision. But then Nancy says: “I think I have no say in like anyone’s body, if you need to have an abortion for whatever ‘xyz’ reason, have it, you know?”
Watching Nancy talk about the right to abortion in a state that’s been chipping away at bodily autonomy for years was incredible. She gave people a roadmap to talk to the people in your life about why the right to not be pregnant is just as important as the right to be pregnant. It’s incredibly brave to put your pro-abortion beliefs on TV, giving this stupid show some actual teeth. Talking about all aspects of family planning—abortion, unplanned pregnancies, parenting styles, IUI and IVF, infertility, adoption—is a crucial part of deciding whether or not you should marry someone. If you can’t agree on basics of bodily autonomy, you gotta give back that engagement ring.
Three more episodes of Love is Blind drop Nov. 2, with the season finale and cast reunion premiering on Nov. 9.