Reality dating shows might get a bad rap for being staged or phony, but Love Is Blind's experimental formula has resulted in not one but two real-deal marriages. That's right, while three couples decided not to take their pod love to the next level, two of the pairs happily said "I do" just weeks after being introduced to one another (and then re-introduced, face to face). Netflix might not have nabbed that Best Picture Oscar this year, but they apparently created a winning formula for televised romance with this addictive new series.
Let's talk about those who were and were not lucky in love on Love Is Blind.
Poor Gigi. After last week's batch of episodes left us on a cliffhanger about whether or not Damian would return her "I do," we got the answer at the start of the finale as he declared, "I do not." Damian wasn't vicious about it, but as he attempted to explain his choice at the altar, in front of their family and friends who'd gathered for the sudden occasion, Giannina was clearly broken by the decision.
"I can't handle the ups and downs of you loving me one day and saying you want to be friends the next," he said to a visibly distressed Giannina. "It would be selfish of me to marry you today, knowing as much as you tell me you're ready, I see that you're not."
The conversation quickly ended as Giannina made a break for it, with the camera operator chasing after her outside. It didn't help matters much that her mother was more upset that he'd been the one to say no instead of her. In Giannina's absence, Damian got the chance to explain to his pals that he wanted to say yes but couldn't commit to a marriage with just one good day between them lately.
Eventually, Gigi decided to go back inside and talk to him -- while suppressing her desire to "punch him in the face" -- and the two hashed it out. Giannina especially did not appreciate being blamed for his decision to walk, but Damian challenged her not to run again.
"I love you. I'm in love with you, and I always will be. And I know what happened today was embarrassing, and you'll never forgive me for it. And I'm sorry," he said. However, Gianinna wasn't impressed by the apology and told him, "You messed up," before literally ripping off a piece of her gown to make a new engagement bow to give back to him before taking off in tears.
Damian still left the possibility open that they might reconcile, saying into the camera, "I broke both of our hearts in that moment, but if you ask me, 'Is love blind?' The answer is simple: Love is blind. No matter where we end up or where we go, this was mine and Giannina's love story. That's how it goes. I can't say it's over. We may need time apart. But it doesn't mean we won't be part of each other's lives again. I would like to think so anyway." But we'll have to wait 'til the reunion to find out what happened next between them, if anything.
Amber and Barnett's big day started out with a hitch, so to speak. Apparently, Barnett had some question marks overhead on the day of their wedding and refused to answer Amber's calls and texts. A highlight reel of their unique complications -- student loan debts, hypothetical arguments with his family, and the like -- made it even less clear whether he'd go through with it, even as Amber got gussied up and into her gown.
Lo, all that stress was for naught because, despite a few shots of the crowd growing bored during the delay, the groom showed up with a smile (albeit, a little sweat, too) and took his place at the altar. Amber's mom gave her a backstage gut check about how she shouldn't have to fight for her relationship all the time and that the affection should've happened naturally between them. But Amber insisted that it was the real deal and moseyed on to meet her groom.
When asked by the officiant if she'd marry him, Amber's answer was a resounding yes. "The fact that even when you're making me crazy, I'm still so in love with you, I can't help myself," she said with her signature giggle. "You have become so much more than I expected. And I'm excited that you get to keep becoming more with me." And, although Barnett gave everyone a bit of a scare by pausing when asked if he, too, would say, "I do," he followed that up with a wide grin and declared, "Oh, I do. One hundred percent. I can't imagine life without you." Well, whaddya know; this fun-loving twosome had what it took after all!
This one is a major, major bummer. Kelly and Kenny were the definition of cute, and we so wanted them to make each other happy. Alas, even though Kenny seemed absolutely ready to commit to Kelly, she couldn't say yes to him at the altar. Of course, Kenny, a class act, reacted to the heartbreaking news by turning to comfort the crowd who'd gathered to see the ceremony. "Obviously, this is just a whirlwind for everyone. And again, don't want to dive too deep into it and delve because you take something that's so complex, and it is authentic, and it is real, but today is not our day," he said.
It's almost cruel that this breakup had to happen in this setting because while Kelly was well prepared for the possibility that she might say "no," Kenny apparently was not. Kenny seemed to be walking around on cloud nine up to that moment, and even Kelly's mother was left whispering, "I love this guy," as he handled the situation with grace. If that wasn't excruciating enough, the producers kept pressing him to answer questions that he couldn't -- and didn't want to -- about their potential future beyond this moment, despite his repeated requests for them to stop. In later interview footage, Kelly explained that she had to make that choice for herself, while Kenny kept his chin up about his future prospects, but still ... ouch, ouch, ouch.
Speaking of pain, well, we kinda saw this trainwreck coming. Jessica showed up for her wedding day insisting that she was as blissed out as she could possibly be. "Six weeks ago, I was looking for the can't-eat, can't-sleep, over-the-fence, World Series-type of love, and I have it," she said before getting into her gown. "I found full-blown love like I've never experienced before." She went on to say that she was "ready" and that Mark was everything she could've asked for, and in his interviews, Mark certainly echoed those sentiments.
As she reached the altar, Jessica was still beaming and whispered "I love you" to "Marky-Mark" after offering a sweet sentiment about how much he'd changed her for the better. She was even visibly relieved when he said, "I do." Despite that enthusiasm, though, Jessica ran cold again once it was her turn to commit. "I cannot," she said. "I'm so proud of us for getting through the ups and downs, but I don't think either one of us is ready to take this on. But I do want you to know that I do love you so very much, and I've always been truthful with you because I respect you so much as a man. And you will always have a very special place in my heart."
Needless to say, the crowd reactions were intense and will likely inspire at least a dozen overused internet memes -- especially that moment when one of the guests turned to another and guffawed about how embarrassed she was for Jessica. After ditching her would-be groom, Jessica explained to producers that she was a "realist" and just wasn't willing to take such a large chance on this marriage to Mark, and for Mark's part, he promised his mother he was going to be fine despite the disappointment of the day. We can't say we didn't see this split coming after their tumultuous experience in the experiment, but we still couldn't tear our eyes away.
Team Lameron fans, rejoice! As many of you have been predicting since week one, these two managed to make it all the way. Coming into the finale, Lauren and Cameron seemed so very solid, but she still couldn't say for sure if she'd take the plunge when they actually made it to the altar. But when the big day came, she didn't hesitate ... well, not for long.
Cameron, on the other hand, had a bit of trouble getting through his vows as he choked back tears. "You made me want to be a better man," he eventually managed. "You have everything that I need in a partner. I feel very blessed to have you in my life."
In return, Lauren professed, "I love that you make me feel comfortable being fully myself. No matter how flawed, goofy, or broken I may have been, I'm thankful for our time together and how happy our moments are. I've never had a man love me as purely and selflessly as you have. I am grateful for the things that have made me uncomfortable and forced me to grow. I'm grateful for you."
Lauren might've had some reservations about the idea of getting married and sharing her space with someone at first, but as they introduced each other as husband and wife at the reception, it was clear that any doubts completely melted away just in time to make it official. And now we're off to cut some onions just to have an excuse for all these tears!
All 10 episodes of Love Is Blind are now available to stream on Netflix. A cast reunion featuring all five of these couples, plus Diamond and Carlton, will debut on Netflix and its YouTube channel Thursday, March 5.