As the early days of self-quarantine bring waves of uncertainty about the future, Brooklyn-based roommates Thi Lam and Rance Nix are asking the important questions: How will single people date? And can love be found in quarantine?
Lam, 27, and Nix, 28, both fans of Netflix’s sleeper hit reality dating show, Love is Blind, are among the many whose work has slowed to a halt in recent weeks. Lam runs Garnish Studios, a content studio for local food and beverage startups, and Nix is an actor and real estate agent. But instead of getting down, the duo got busy, and cooked up their own dating experiment on Tuesday evening.
“We had the idea around 5 PM,” Lam told the Daily Dot. “And we launched at 5:15.”
Armed with nothing but their iPhones, Instagram accounts, and a Google spreadsheet, Lam and Nix went into production mode for “Love is Quarantine.” They collected names, ages, and sexual preferences from eager participants around the country, and even the globe. “We have people on the spreadsheet from everywhere from South Korea, to Mexico, to Dublin,” said Mr. Lam.
For those unfamiliar with Love is Blind, Lam and Nix’s source material is a reality show that sets singles seeking spouses on literal blind dates in isolated pods. No one knows what their dating partners look like until after they’ve agreed to an engagement. The result is a shockingly watchable spectacle.
“We’re big fans, huge fans,” said Lam. “We’re mainly Mark fans,” he added, citing a cast member who suffered a slow trainwreck of unrequited love at the hands of a woman who accepted his proposal only to reject him repeatedly. Over the course of Love is Blind, Mark continues to attempt to make things work with his fiancé, leading to a devastating final faceoff at the altar.
“We made this account for Mark, in his honor. His blind optimism is something that I strive for, personally,” said Lam.
“Mark is blind. And we love him for that,” added Nix.
In the “Love is Quarantine” experiment, there are no prerequisites that applicants are seeking marriage. Applicants simply fill out the open-sourced Google spreadsheet and Lam and Nix set up those they’ve selected on a date in “the pods.” The pods also exist on the same Google spreadsheet, and the dates are simple old-fashioned phone calls. No FaceTime, just audio.
Lam and Nix have been posting bite-sized content to the Love is Quarantine Instagram so that followers can watch how the dates play out. For a date between singles Brian and Emerald they teased, “Brian is from Canada and she is not. And Brian has health insurance.”
“When they agree that they both like each other, we announce that that couple has left the pod and we reveal their identities to the public,” said Lam. “We plan on sending our favorite couples to Popeyes on Flushing Avenue in Bushwick for their honeymoon.”
So far, the experiment has already produced at least one potential match, Brooke and Red, who bonded in the “pods” over their creative similarities.
And the match has inspired a couple nickname: Bred.
While Nix and Lam are both single, they said they will not be using the experiment to seek out their own potential matches. “That would be unethical,” said Nix.
They are, however, hoping to turn the experiment into an opportunity to support local charities. “We’re building a website and making T-shirts and once that’s up, 100 percent of the proceeds will go to Feeding America,” said Lam.
In the meantime, the creators of this experiment said they’ve been floored by the good cheer of those who’ve participated. “Since the Google sheets are public, people are organizing our sheets for us and editing to make them better. Which is incredible because…people could just delete the whole thing and ruin it but they’re making it better. They’re really respecting the pods,” said Lam.