‘Love Is Blind’ Contestants Forced to Film Drunk, Hungry and Sleep Deprived, Lawsuit Claims

Reality TV started for Jeremy Hartwell, a mortgage company manager in Chicago, with a direct message on a dating app.

“Someone matched me and quickly texted me saying, ‘I have a boyfriend, but I think you’d be great for the show I’m casting for, are you interested?'” Hartwell recalls in an interview. with CNN.

While she can’t say for sure that the casting agent was there looking for potential contestants, she claims that the majority of the cast of Season 2 of Netflix’s “Love Is Blind,” the show she was on, didn’t actually apply. on your own.

“They were contacted one way or another on social media,” he says his co-stars told him.

“Love Is Blind,” which was nominated for an Emmy this week for its outstanding structured reality show, features 15 men and 15 women who are placed in individual isolation rooms, or “pods,” where they are paired with a contestant on a separate room. . They then have conversations to see if they can build a connection with someone, and eventually commit, without actually seeing them.

Hartwell says she agreed to appear on the show after reviewing the agent’s Instagram account and work.

“Actually, I’ve never been that interested in reality television. It just, you know, was never that entertaining to me,” says Hartwell. “But I have a personal philosophy of seeking out new experiences, challenging myself, doing things that look scary, and this fits all the criteria there. I decided to throw my hat in the ring. I never really thought I would.” be kicked out.”

Hartwell’s experience on the second season of “Love Is Blind” began in April 2021, when producers booked her an early morning flight from Chicago to Los Angeles.

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

“We were constantly being told not to talk to each other, not to talk about things while we waited for people to finish collecting their bags and get on the bus to be taken to orientation,” he says, as some of the program’s participants were whisked away. at the same time.

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

After an introductory speech from the producers, Hartwell says the contestants’ belongings were searched and their cell phones, wallets and IDs were confiscated.

“We had been told that they were going to take our mobile phones, so that was to be expected, but taking our wallets, our passports, any identifying information, that was very unexpected,” he says, adding that “it bothered me.”

“They went through all of our luggage, if you’ve ever seen a military movie, a boot camp, where they only go through recruits’ luggage, but that’s exactly what it was. They went through every one of our personal data.” belongings, presumably to make sure we didn’t have some kind of contraband.

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

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

Hartwell alleges that snacks and water were so infrequent that they were forced to wait hours for fresh water if they were thirsty.

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

“Most of the activity was marked by long periods of waiting,” says Hartwell.

Once production began, Hartwell says he tried to combat the effects of sleep deprivation after long hours of filming under bright lights. On set and back at his hotel, Hartwell says he couldn’t get food or water, but alcohol was available, and he was even encouraged on an empty stomach.

In June, Hartwell filed a lawsuit against Netflix, Kinetic Content and Delirium TV, the production and casting company behind the show, for a series of labor law violations, including “inhumane working conditions” and improper pay for the amount of hours issued. 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 run on ‘Love is Blind’ Season 2 lasted less than a week. Unfortunately, for Mr. Hartwell , his trip ended shortly after he failed to develop a meaningful connection with any other participants. While we will not speculate on his motives for bringing the lawsuit, Mr. Hartwell’s allegations have absolutely no merit, and we will vigorously defend against his claims.”

Hartwell’s attorney, Chantal Payton of Payton Employment Law in Los Angeles, told CNN that the lack of proper nourishment and isolation “made cast members hungry for social connections and altered their emotions and decision-making.” .

The Hartwell 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. She is seeking unpaid wages, financial compensation for missed meal breaks, money damages for unfair business practices, and civil penalties for labor code violations.

Kinetic Content also produces “The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On” and “Married at First Sight,” which are streaming on Netflix.

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

For Hartwell, he says he hopes to change the practices of some reality shows in the future.

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

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