CHICAGO — The first season of Netflix’s hit relationship show “Love is Blind” was filmed in the Atlanta area, but Chicago was referenced within the first 10 minutes of the premiere.
Cast members Jessica Batten and Mark Cuevas bonded over their Illinois roots while sitting in individual “pods” where they couldn’t see each other. Batten told Cuevas she’s from a city about two hours west of Chicago; she loves the Cubs and the Bears (so much so that she named her dog Payton Hester); and she makes “the best” Italian beef sandwich.
Now “Love is Blind” is headed to Chicago for Season 2, and casting is underway. A Netflix representative declined to comment this week on why Chicago was selected, but the show’s production company, Kinetic Content, found plenty of Chicago singles for some of its other rush-to-the-altar shows. Kinetic is behind Lifetime’s “Married at First Sight” and the short-lived TLC network series “The Spouse House,” among other programs.
Season 5 of “Married at First Sight” followed three pairs of Chicago-area singles as they met for the first time at their Palmer House Hilton weddings in August 2016. On “The Spouse House,” which aired in summer 2017, 27 Chicagoland singles searched for love at a California mansion.
LOVE DIDN’T LAST
Despite help from the shows’ relationship specialists, most of these unions did not last. Two of the three “Married at First Sight” Chicago marriages ended in divorce in 2017, months after the Season 5 finale and reunion aired. The remaining local couple, Anthony D’Amico and Ashley Petta, welcomed a baby girl in January 2019. The pair also appeared on the spinoff “Married at First Sight: Happily Ever After.”
All three “Spouse House” marriages have ended. Missy Holas and Chris Rudolph, who wed in July 2018, were the final couple to split. Since they broke up last year, Holas underwent IVF by herself, moved to Michigan and gave birth to twins Charlie Christina Margaret and Ford Monty Georett Holas in February.
Holas said she and Rudolph are still close, and that she doesn’t regret being on “The Spouse House.” “I’d do it all over again. A million times over,” she told the Tribune. Rudolph did not return a Tribune request for comment.
For “Love is Blind,” it’s unclear when production will start on Season 2. The Chicago Film Office isn’t issuing permits through May 15 amid the worldwide coronavirus outbreak, but the series may not need Chicago film permits. Permits are issued for filming on streets, sidewalks, alleys and other public properties.
The “Love is Blind” pods were built at a studio complex in suburban Atlanta for the first season. Thirty singles were cast, and they talked to their potential love interests through a thin wall connecting the pods. If they got engaged, they met their partners face-to-face and vacationed together in Mexico. The couples returned to the Atlanta area to live together and meet each other’s families before walking down the aisle.
Applicants must be willing to take three weeks off from work and other commitments during production, according to the casting site. The other online casting questions deal with hobbies, dating deal-breakers and past television appearances.
As for Batten and Cuevas, Cuevas proposed and they made it to their wedding day — only for Batten to back out at the last minute.