‘Love Is Blind’ Contestants Forced To Film Drunk, Hungry, Sleepless People, Lawsuit Claims

(CNN) — Reality TV began with a direct message on a dating app for Jeremy Hartwell, a director of a mortgage company in Chicago.

“Then someone who’s compatible with me texted me very quickly and said, ‘I have a boyfriend but I think you’d be really great for the show I’m casting for, are you interested?'” himself Hartwell in an interview with CNN.

While he can’t say with certainty that the casting agent went there to look for potential candidates, he claims that most of the cast of Season 2 of Netflix’s Love Is Blind, the show he was cast on, don’t actually know each other applied alone.

“They were reached on social media one way or another,” he says, other cast members told him.

“Love Is Blind,” which was nominated for an Emmy Award this week for Outstanding Structured Reality Show, features 15 men and 15 women who are placed in individual isolation rooms, or “pods,” where they face a contestant in a separate room to be paired . They then engage in conversations to see if they can connect with someone — and eventually get engaged — without actually seeing them.

Hartwell says he agreed to appear on the show after verifying the agent’s Instagram account and his job.

“Actually, I’ve never really been interested in reality TV. It was just never that entertaining for me,” says Hartwell. “But I have a personal philosophy of looking for new experiences, challenging myself, doing things that seem scary – and that ticks all the boxes there. I’ve decided to throw my hat in the ring. I never thought I’d be cast.”

Hartwell’s experience on Love Is Blind season two began in April 2021 when producers booked him on an early morning flight from Chicago to Los Angeles.

“When filming started, the flight was very, very early for [a few of] We and I think it was to separate the men and the women so we wouldn’t see each other,” he says, adding that things got “awkward” almost “instantly”.

“We were constantly being told not to talk to each other, not to talk about things, while we waited for people to finish packing their bags and get on the shuttle to be taken for orientation,” he says, like it some of the show’s contestants did transport at the same time.

Participants were reminded not to communicate with each other, Hartwell says, not even cordially.

After an introductory speech by the producers, Hartwell said attendees’ belongings were searched and their cell phones, wallets and ID cards were confiscated.

“They had told us they were going to take our cellphones, so that was to be expected, but taking our wallets, our passports, all the identifying information, that was very unexpected,” he says, adding that “put me in the wrong place.” direction.”

“They went through all our luggage – if you’ve ever seen a military film, a boot camp where they only went through recruits’ luggage, but that’s exactly how it was. They went through every one of our belongings, presumably to make sure we didn’t have any contraband.”

After that, Hartwell says, the producers sent everyone to their separate hotel rooms.

“We were basically locked in the room,” he says. “The very first thing they did was isolate us in our rooms for about 24 hours at a time.”

Hartwell claims that snacks and water were so scarce that they were forced to wait hours for fresh water when thirsty.

On the second day, the cast took media photos and videos.

“Most activities were interrupted by long wait times,” says Hartwell.

When production began, Hartwell claims he was trying to combat the effects of sleep deprivation after hours of shooting under bright lights. On set and back at his hotel, Hartwell says he didn’t have access to food and water, but alcohol was available — and encouraged even on an empty stomach.

In June, Hartwell filed a lawsuit against Netflix, Kinetic Content and Delirium TV, the production company and casting company behind the show, alleging a series of labor law violations, including “inhumane working conditions” and insufficient payment for the hours cast members worked.

Netflix has not responded to CNN’s request for comment.

In a statement to CNN in response to Hartwell’s complaint, Kinetic Content and Delirium TV wrote, “Mr. Hartwell’s involvement in the second season of ‘Love is Blind’ lasted less than a week. Unfortunately for Mr. Hartwell, his journey ended soon after he failed to form a significant connection with another participant. While we will not speculate as to his motives for filing the lawsuit, Mr. Hartwell’s allegations are completely unfounded and we will vigorously defend his claims.”

Hartwell’s attorney at Payton Employment Law in Los Angeles, Chantal Payton, tells CNN that the lack of adequate food and isolation “have made the cast hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making.”

Hartwell’s proposed class action lawsuit is on behalf of all participants in “Love Is Blind” and other unscripted productions created by the defendants over the past four years. He is demanding unpaid wages, financial compensation for missed lunch breaks, damages for unfair business practices and civil penalties for violating the Labor Code.

Kinetic Content also produces The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On and Married at First Sight, both of which stream on Netflix.

Season 3 of Love Is Blind will stream on Netflix later this year.

For Hartwell, he’s hoping to change the practices of some reality shows in the future.

“It’s a matter of justice, and it’s not about the money for me. It’s not about exposure,” says Hartwell. “I firmly believe these practices are wrong and need to change. And the reason I’m making that effort with this lawsuit is because I hope that becomes a catalyst for those changes so future reality TV cast members don’t have to go through with it.”

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