While the rest of us continue to seek quality social-distancing companionship on a collection of dating apps, a small group of students is looking for love on Zoom.
The notorious Zoom, where dreary online lectures and classes once took place, is now the setting for UMDisblind, a new virtual dating show for the University of Maryland community based off the hit Netflix show Love is Blind.
“We’re all stuck at home under lockdown and could use some fun and excitement,” two of the show’s producers wrote in an email. Samantha Amo, a rising junior communication major and Austin Brown, a rising junior Chinese and international business major, are two of the students co-producing the show.
This university version was inspired by the University of Maryland, Baltimore County’s own spin-off UMBCisblind. UMDisblind will feature 20 student contestants — ten women and ten men — from different majors and years.
Like the original Love is Blind, this version is designed to encourage participants to develop bonds with each other based on deep conversations and personality rather than physical appearance. Contestants are prohibited from revealing their real names and identities until the season finale. Instead, they’ll introduce themselves by the code name of their choosing, ranging from “McDreamy” to “Olivia” to “Dohn Jonson.”
And during their Zoom conversations and dates, contestants will have to leave their cameras off, change their display names to their pseudonyms and remove their profile pictures.
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In Love is Blind, contestants were stripped of all technology to minimize their contact with the public and fellow contestants. UMDisblind will enforce these guidelines, to a lesser degree.
To keep contestants anonymous to each other, the producers blocked all participants from the official UMDisblind Instagram account. Contestants are also not allowed to use fake Instagram accounts or seek their friends’ help in order to reveal the identities of the other participants, the show’s producers said.
The inaugural season of UMDisblind will include six episodes that come out over two weeks. The first episode will premiere on May 22 by 9 p.m. on the show’s Instagram via IGTV. Future episode dates will be announced as the season progresses.
The show will begin with a two-night “speed dating” round, where contestants will talk to five other contestants. At the end of this portion, contestants will complete a survey and select which particular individuals they would like to go on a second date with, ranking their potential dates in order of interest.
During the third night, contestants will attend their second dates with their top two or three matches. Contestants who don’t receive mutual matches or aren’t interested in the contestants they talked to during the previous nights will go on dates with contestants they haven’t met yet.
Night four will focus on longer dates and deeper conversations. Contestants who haven’t matched with at least one person by this point will be asked to leave.
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Contestants will then couple up on night five and go on one last date prior to the big reveal. Night six is the big season finale and the show’s grand reveal. Contestants will finally meet their match face-to-face — or in this case, on Zoom with their video cameras on.
During the season’s reunion episode, which will take place about a week after the season finale, couples will return once more to provide an update on their relationship statuses.
“We hope that contestants will make new friends, possibly find a partner and have fun during lockdown,” the producers wrote. “Our ultimate goal is to bring a group of Terps together that wouldn’t have met otherwise on-campus.”
Both Amo and Brown said it would be incredibly fulfilling for them if some of the couples lasted after the end of the season.
Any contestants unable to couple up, however, will have another chance at love. Contestants who aren’t successful during the first season will be asked to return and try their luck again during the upcoming seasons, according to the producers.