Self-isolated singles are searching for connection through 'Love Is Quarantine,' a pandemic-era 'Love Is Blind' spinoff

  • "Love Is Quarantine" is a social media spinoff of Netflix's speed dating show "Love Is Blind."
  • Organized via Google Sheets and broadcast via Instagram, "Love Is Quarantine" contestants will go on multiple rounds of anonymous phone "dates" in the hope of finding someone to date or befriend. 
  • Hundreds have already applied to participate in the social experiment. 
  • Eventually — that is, once the possibility of coronavirus infection has been safely mitigated — the happily matched couples will have the chance to meet in person and decide whether their relationship can go the distance IRL. 
  • Warning: this post contains "Love Is Blind" spoilers.
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Twenty contestants. Twelve pandemic pods. One online spreadsheet. Welcome to the first season of "Love Is Quarantine," the DIY speed dating experiment putting a socially-distanced spin on the hit reality series "Love Is Blind."

Instead of getting to know each other through a semi-opaque partition in one of Netflix's plush, private pods, Love Is Quarantine's would-be lovebirds chatted by phone from their respective homes — in some cases, for hours.

The project started as a way for two, New York-based extroverts — photographer and videographer Thi Q. Lam and actor Rance Nix — to battle boredom and cabin fever while in isolation. They've been friends and roommates for years, and after binge-watching "Love Is Blind" together, they were itching for something else to do.  

"Basically, I had the idea of creating "Love Is Blind: Quarantine Edition," Lam said. "Because if you really think about it, when you're quarantined, you are in your own pod and no one can see you. You are invisible."

Soon after, Lam built out the Google Sheets sign-up and scheduling system that now serves as the hub for all live updates on all things "Love Is Quarantine." Nix and Lam were concerned when the first six applicants were all men. But, then, out of nowhere, people started signing up. 

At that point, Nix — the self-described Vanessa Lachey to Thi's Nick — stepped in to handle the outreach and logistics. After finalizing a pool of twenty compelling contestants, Lam paired them off as best he could using each person's preferences as a guide.

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Joe and Tiffani are IN THE PODS!!!!!

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And so, the experiment began. 

Within 24 hours of launching the project, Lam and Nix went from fielding candidates to scheduling first, second, and, in some cases, third blind dates for Love Is Quarantine's Season 1 cast. But nothing could've prepared Nix and Lam for just how well the night would go. As the evening wore on, the pair documented their delight, shock, and fatigue in a long string of chaotic Instagram updates. 

"Ya'll, we just got word that one of the dates wants to go on a second date," Nix said in one of the clips, beaming. "It's working. This is nuts."

Fans and followers, meanwhile, were watching the whole thing play out live in the spreadsheet, which also houses a "Love Is Quarantine" gossip groupchat. 

"We had people on the phone for hours," Lam said, still incredulous. "Like, they won't stop chatting and then they follow eachother afterwards and they're gonna go on like, you know, date number two tonight off the show. It's crazy. And they're like, you know, one's from Nashville, one's from New York and they just hit it off. There are superstars."

In fact, those superstars — 24-year-old emerging pop artist Brooke Alexx and 30-year-old content creator Red Gaskell — have since left the pandemic pod stage of their relationship to make a rather splashy Instagram debut. 

"He is the golden retriever of the group," Lam said of Gaskell. "He is so lovable. He's so good at communicating."

"But he also has Jessica [Batten] tendencies," Nix added.

By "Jessica tendencies," Nix was alluding to Red's initial worries about the six year age gap between him and Brooke.

Memorably, 34-year-old "Love Is Blind" contestant Jessica Batten repeatedly cited concerns about 24-year-old ex-fiance Mark Cuevas's age before ultimately leaving him at the altar.  

"We do this for Mark," Lam said of the long-suffering "Love Is Blind "contestant. "He is a blind fool, but I want the best for him. Honestly."

Like the Netflix original series, "Love Is Quarantine" wasn't all roses and tender moments.

Val, a contestant who quickly became a fan favorite, had a lukewarm ten-minute call with a match named Daniel, who admitted to feeling a bit nervous before they respectfully parted ways.

However, due to popular demand, it seems like Val could be returning for another shot at love very soon.  

But you'll have to tune in to Season 2 of "Love Is Quarantine" tonight at 7:30 p.m. EST to find out. 

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