Warning: Spoilers from Episodes One through Four of “Love Is Blind” Season Five below.
The first group of episodes from Season Five of “Love Is Blind” ended on a dramatic cliffhanger. At the end of Episode Four, contestant Uche Okoroha entered the pods hoping to propose to Aaliyah Cosby before learning that she abruptly quit the experiment.
Aaliyah left the show after Uche shared he had a past relationship with fellow contestant Lydia Velez Gonzalez. In a flashback, fans saw Lydia and Uche enter the pods on the first day. Lydia immediately recognized Uche’s voice, marking the first time in the show’s five seasons that two contestants dated before the pods.
Aaliyah, who became close friends with Lydia in the pods, fled the experiment and James “Milton” Johnson IV, who connected with Lydia, took some time to process the information before asking her to marry him.
Some fans criticized the storyline on social media, with one commenting on Uche’s Instagram page that the situation was “messy.”
“I feel like the producers manipulated the heck out of this,” the person wrote beneath Uche’s post about the show on Sept. 23.
Uche replied, “Yes, production forcing me to keep my past a secret, then editing out the part where I reveal that I wasn’t allowed by production to tell the truth was an interesting decision.”
In recent interviews, “Love Is Blind” creator Chris Coelen has spoken about the Lydia and Uche twist and explained how producers decided to handle the situation.
Coelen told Variety that it was “a complete surprise” when he discovered that Lydia and Uche already knew each other.
“I was totally blindsided,” he said. “It was a complete shock. To be honest, it was like, ‘What are we gonna do?’ Nobody had any idea.”
Coelen, who is also the CEO of the production company behind the show called Kinetic Company, confirmed in an interview with People that the show conducts “a very thorough vetting process across all kinds of criteria” before each season.
He revealed that in past seasons there have been “a few instances” where two women met before, but the show had managed to avoid casting two exes, until Season Five.
The TV producer recalled sitting in a control room during filming and being told by a crew member that they overheard Uche and Lydia confirm they previously dated.
“I think we have 89 cameras in the pods and there’s lots of stuff happening. We have a big team of hundreds of crew members, and there’s always somebody listening to something,” he explained to People.
Coelen said that Lydia and Uche were spoken to separately and were initially told they might not be able to continue with the experiment. According to him, they both wanted to stay and assured producers they did want to rekindle their romance.
“So we said, ‘If we were to allow you to continue being part of this experiment, knowing that you are really passionate about being here, we will allow you to continue under one condition,’” he shared, adding that the show typically does not control conversations between contestants.
He continued, “We never police what anybody says, but in this case, it was the only time where we’ve said, ‘We would like if you would not reveal this to the others.’”
Producers explained to the pair that it would not be “fair” to them or the other cast members to discuss their past. Lydia and Uche were also prohibited from speaking in the pods again.
Eventually, Uche shares the bombshell news with Aaliyah and Lydia anxiously tells Milton in Episode Four.
Coelen revealed that “around day six or seven in the pods” the crew saw Lydia and Uche developing connections with other people and decided they should be allowed to open up about their dating history.
“‘You don’t have to say that, and how you say that and to whom you say that is completely up to you,’” Lydia and Uche were told, he said.
“We said that same thing to both of them, and you see the results on the show,” he added.
Going forward, Coelen said the show will try to prevent past connections from impacting the relationships on the show. “I’m sure it will happen again at some point in some way, but certainly we do our best to avoid that,” he concluded.
While Lydia and Milton left the pods engaged, Uche called Aaliyah to understand why she quit the show before Episode Four ended.
Fans will find out if the two are able to work through their issues when Episodes Five through Seven arrive on Netflix Sept. 29.