By Judah Clayton
I don’t typically watch trashy reality TV. I sort of have something against it, since there’s nothing that shoots my self-confidence in the foot like conventionally attractive men. But over spring break, I heard of Love is Blind. This “experiment” of a show claims to focus more on compatibility and emotional connection than appearances. My curiosity was piqued. Finally, a reality TV show with more emotional impact, instead of shallow and superficial connections that don’t last! Basically, shove people into rooms with people they can’t see and make them propose to each other in less than ten days. Then, send them to Mexico to relax in each other’s company. Finally, throw them into the real world until the wedding day! It’s a simple enough formula.
For the most part, the show met my expectations. People are funneled into rooms where they have “dates” with contestants of the opposite sex. There are some meet-cutes in there that I liked, and the beginnings of some compatible relationships, peppered with the standard drama that comes with a show like this. Being torn between two people, emotionally “cheating” on the person who you asked to be your “girlfriend” (after less than ten days!), worrying about what you think the other person would look like. There are some people genuinely looking for an emotional soulmate, and there are people who may only be looking for a good time. And then, there’s Shake.
Shake has been called “the man who broke a dating show” by commentators of reality television, and there’s a reason why. The first time you see him, you understand that he’s more than just a vain man who signed up for the wrong reality show. His chauvinism, misogyny, and slightly predatory qualities are revealed the second he opens his mouth. He asks several women if he would have trouble putting them on his shoulders at a concert and if they like working out. Which is fine, I guess? It defeats the point of the show, and he’s not taking the time to get to know anyone, but I think it’s better than him wasting some woman’s time. Which he does anyway, but we’ll get to that. He even asks a woman her age. When she says she’s 33, he says that he prefers to date younger women. Shake is 32.
It seems like he’s going to be the irredeemable jerk of this saga, but that changes when he meets Deepti, one of the women participants. Although Shake starts the conversation by asking her about her size, the two quickly bond over the fact that they are both Indian. They both have also only dated white people before. I’m not gonna lie, their first conversation is really comfortable and led me to think they had chemistry together. How innocent I was back then.
Eventually, Shake has this whole “revelation” where he basically says he thinks his size and race preference might be due to internalized issues going on, and that genuinely was such a sweet moment. He says he cares so much about Deepti and wants to be with her, and that she’s the One and all that. He ends up proposing to her, and she says yes. The second he ends up seeing her he makes a point of it to show both her and the audience that he is incredibly attracted by her physical appearance as well as the connection that he had to her emotioally. It seems like paradise, and it was so easy to root for them. They became my second favorite couple on the show, lagging slightly behind Jarrette and Iyanna (who are Black Excellence at its finest). I really wanted them to find happiness with each other, but then Mexico came.
Almost all the “progress” that we thought Shake made evaporated as soon as all the contestants were able to see and hang out with each other. He makes it a point to tell everyone that he’s not attracted to Deepti. And I mean everyone. It’s insufferable. And according to the cast, the show painted him in a flattering light. During the reunion episode, it is heavily implied that he made even worse remarks about Deepti’s body than what he said in front of the camera, and what he said in front of the camera was bad enough. He said being with Deepti was like being with his aunt, just because she’s Indian.
After Mexico, they meet each other’s families, and Shake has a heart-to-heart with his mother. She chastises him for being so shallow and says she sympathizes with Deepti, who deserves more than 120% of a man’s effort. And I 100% AGREE. I’ve spent so much time focusing on Shake that I completely forgot to mention that Deepti is a literal angel. She’s so compassionate throughout the entire program, and after the fact, she says the experience helped her grow so much. She turns him down at the altar and I was literally yelling at my screen, “YES, GIRL! You don’t need him!”
The season had a reunion that was released just a few weeks ago, and every time Shake talks, everyone groans. Even Shayne, who was a jerk in his own right, openly expressed how insufferable Shake was. They all agreed that it wasn’t a problem that he wasn’t attracted to Deepti, but the way he handled it was problematic. He wasted her time when she could have spent it with someone else. He’s planning on releasing a podcast soon, and I cannot wait to dig into that and see his opinions on everything. He’s tattooed the phrase “Is love enough?” onto his chest, which is undoubtedly the biggest turn-on for any girl who happens to see it (sarcasm, if you couldn’t tell). I’m very interested in seeing the next part of The Shake Saga, because hate-watching this man has become reality TV’s latest pastime.