why series about love are a hit and what do they say about us?


Published on 05/29/2024 at 4:57 p.m.
Updated 05/29/2024 at 4:57 p.m.

Reading 3 min.

Young (and beautiful) singles looking for love or putting it to the test, this is a concept that works extremely well on the Netflix platform and delights Internet users season after season. But why are we captivated by the love lives and torments of others? Amélie Boukhobza, clinical psychologist, explains it to us.

Will Brittany choose Sergio as her husband (even though everything opposes them!) Will Matt forgive Vanessa for seeing her ex again (followed by the cameras)? These are the kinds of essential questions that productions like Ultimatum Or Love is Blind, two undeniable hits on Netflix which, on the strength of their success, are also available in Korean, Brazilian versions, etc. But then, what fascinates us so much in these lives (and these romantic situations) so far from our own?

Finding love, or winning it back, themes that work

The main ingredient of these series is of course love (and commitment), an oh-so-universal theme. But on Netflix, this one is never easy.

In Love is Blind, young singles meet blindly (in “love capsules” separated by a wall) to get to know each other and choose each other. Then outside, to see how their love evolves in real life, before saying yes or no in front of the altar.

In Ultimatum, the couples are already formed, but have not yet taken the plunge. The show therefore offers them the opportunity to meet other singles (and more if they like), to make THE decision: continue and get married, or stay there. Torments that we enjoy quietly from the back of our sofa, while the cast couples seem to be gambling on their future. France, however, is not left behind in the race, with programs like Married at first sight, or even l‘Temptation Island which bring together thousands of viewers behind their screens.

A slight tendency towards voyeurism assumed

But why does it work so well? For Amélie Boukhobza, the reason is simple: these programs play on a tendency that we all have more or less.

“Television shows like ‘Love is Blind’ or ‘Ultimatum’ fascinate many of us. Spontaneously, one could say that human beings have a natural tendency to voyeurism. Plunging your gaze into the intimacy and twists and turns of couples, even through a screen, is a temptation that is difficult to resist. The viewer thus finds himself in the position of a voyeur, and it works perfectly.”

Moreover, in history our posture is the simplest: we certainly observe, but from our living room: “These shows allow us to observe relational dynamics and conflicts without the real consequences of personal involvement. It offers us the opportunity to live through intense emotional experiences vicariously.”

A scripted adventure

Voyeurism is not the only ingredient that makes us follow the adventures of Sydney, Paul and their friends. Of course, the production knows all the veins to exploit and leaves us little respite by highlighting this or that aspect of the relationship. “We can recognize ourselves in certain participants, project our own desires and fears into certain stories, and sometimes even experience a cathartic effect. The storylines of these shows are designed to generate suspense and drama, thus captivating the attention of viewers. The twists and turns and conflicts create ongoing emotional tension that keeps us interested.”

A desire (sometimes secret) to demystify love

Finally, there is a final reason, a little more psychological, which invites us to watch these programs. “These dating shows highlight social norms and expectations when it comes to romantic relationships. They offer a fascinating field of observation to understand how everyone navigates these norms. underlines our psychologist. And whether love is blind or not, it is above all (and forever) a great mystery…”We always have this persistent desire to understand and discover the secrets of love.” Looking at others can, sometimes, give us an element of answer.

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