Reality TV and Black love

Clay and AD from the Love Is Blind Season 6 reunion.
Photo courtesy: People

There is a myriad of dating shows out to watch. Shows such as  Love is Blind, Too Hot to Handle, Perfect Match, and more help to showcase love in all its forms. However, one seems exempt from ever getting the same treatment on reality TV: black love. 

Most times, reality shows that fall into this category, mainly dating shows, never have black cast members or enough of a black cast. Typically, sporting 2 to 4 black men to a majority white male cast or 1 to 2 black women with a majority of white women leads to less screen time and fewer chances for these contestants to find love. Some companies have worked to fix this issue, like CBS Studios implementing a diversity initiative to have more diverse casts on their shows like “Love Island,” “Survivor,” and more. 

Even with this initiative, black cast members of these shows often become sidelined or portrayed as stereotypical depictions of black men and women that have existed on reality TV for ages. It causes more people to watch these shows, only to not even see themselves reflected. 

PopSugar writer Njera Perkins discusses this issue when she shares the continuous cycle from the programs she watches and says, “No one who looked like me was looking for love on these television shows.”

While in 2024, we have seen more and more representation showing up on these shows, it still sparks the question of whether these shows provide the proper representation. One recent example that can be brought up would be on Love is Blind’s current season 6 with couple AD Smith and Clay Gravesande. 

Light spoilers for those who have not finished the season, so read with caution. Throughout their season-long romance, culminating in a devastating “I don’t” from Clay, we see the same storylines given to people who fit this placeholder position. A relationship that seems to end in a fairytale ending that continues to bump towards that ending. 

This is not the only scandal throughout the season, as their white cast mates went through their fair share. However, black viewers of this show only have this couple to relate to throughout their season-long watch. This plays back into the endless cycle of black cast members getting the short end of the story stick on these shows. Especially when it comes to the consistent mistreatment of black women on these shows. Writer Ticora Adams for IncClubMagazine points this fact out in a 2022 article where she says, “How do black women find love when no one wants to give them a chance?”. 

With more and more seasons coming with the potential to create the proper representation of black love, casting directors have the job of making right by their black viewers.