Cast members come and go — but Nick and Vanessa Lachey remain. Over the past few years, the couple has become the face of Netflix's reality dating shows, hosting “Love Is Blind” and “The Ultimatum.” Married since 2011, the Lacheys coach singles through stressful dating situations while mining their own life experiences for advice.
On Feb. 14, Netflix released the first group of episodes from its latest dating show, “Perfect Match,” but this time a familiar face is missing. Lachey is leading the “Perfect Match” solo, without his wife by his side.
In an interview with TODAY.com, Lachey opens up about hosting the series alone and why this show’s format allowed him to be more of a “support system” for the cast compared to prior shows.
“Perfect Match” is similar to “Bachelor in Paradise” because it gives fan-favorites from different Netflix shows like “Love Is Blind,” “The Mole,” “The Circle” and “Too Hot to Handle” a second chance at finding love. But, it sets itself apart by adding a competitive aspect.
Each episode, the contestants match up with each other and compete in compatibility challenges. The winners then visit the “boardroom” where Lachey appears and explains their reward. As the most compatible pair, the couple gets to select which two new contestants to join the rest of the cast in their luxurious home in Panama and, hopefully, make a connection.
Speaking to TODAY.com, the 98 Degrees singer describes the show as “more lighthearted” compared to “Love Is Blind” or “The Ultimatum.”
“The stakes aren’t quite as extreme. You’re not standing at the altar with your friends and family staring you down,” he says. “It’s not that heavy.”
He says the stakes are still high, though, because the cast members all want to find love and need to avoid elimination if they want that to happen.
“We have three ingredients here,” he explains. “You’ve got attraction, romance, but you also have gameplay.”
Lachey says he had fun watching each contestant make strategic moves as they tried to navigate the unfamiliar process and make it to the end.
Viewers might notice that his hosting duties have expanded on “Perfect Match.” The 49-year-old singer makes more appearances in each episode as he explains the rules and checks in with the contestants.
He also seems to channel “Survivor” host Jeff Probst as he narrates the funny challenges during which the cast perform a wide-range of activities, from kissing blindfolded to eating spicy chili peppers.
The contestants also seem to have a bond with Lachey, playfully teasing him and discussing their connections with other contestants.
“During the day, doing the challenges and then doing the setup and stuff, I did get to spend more time with them which was great because they’re all great people and it was a lot of fun to get to know them,” he says.
He continues, “It’s tough. You’re down there for (about) six weeks and we kind of threw them into this experiment. So, I think they viewed me as a backstop, a sounding board (and) a support system.”
Although Lachey has hosted shows by himself in the past like NBC’s “The Sing-Off,” this was his first time leading a dating show. He says he felt comfortable in the role despite not having Vanessa Lachey there.
“Clearly, I love hosting with Vanessa,” he shares, “So, I missed her and the kids. But it’s kind of nice to be able to do both.” The couple shares 10-year-old Camden, 8-year-old Brooklyn and 6-year-old Phoenix.
He adds, “We enjoy doing (‘Love Is Blind’ and ‘The Ultimatum’) together. But, this is really cool to be able to step out and do my own thing.”
Episodes One through Four of “Perfect Match” are currently streaming. The second batch drops on Feb. 21 and all twelve episodes will be available on Feb. 28.