Love is Blind creator Chris Coelen has insisted the show’s producers had no clue that singletons Lydia Velez Gonzalez and Uche Okoroha had dated before appearing on the show – revealing bosses were left scrambling over whether to let them stay in the experiment.
The first four episodes of season five of the hit Netflix dating series arrived on Friday, and left viewers – and show bosses – aghast when the singletons confirmed they already knew each other on an intimate level.
The bombshell was dropped when geologist Lydia, 32, instantly recognized 34-year-old Uche’s voice during their initial meeting in the pods, prompting producers to intervene and take them into separate rooms.
Reflecting on the unexpected curveball, Coelen insisted their romance – which took place three months before the show filmed – wasn’t made known to producers during the rigorous screening process, as he revealed why Uche and Lydia had to keep quiet about their secret past.
Love is Blind star Lydia Velez Gonzalez recognized Uche Okoroha’s voice while meeting for the first time in the pods
Uche and Lydia had dated one another for several weeks, three months before filming the Netflix dating show – and had a physical relationship
‘The fact that Lydia and Uche not only knew each other, but had a prior romantic relationship, was a complete surprise to me. I was totally blindsided,’ he told Variety.
‘It was a complete shock. To be honest, it was like, “What are we gonna do?” Nobody had any idea.’
He continued: ‘We told each of them, separately, that we had no idea how this happened, and we were disappointed, but we felt the right choice was for them to leave the experiment.
‘Lydia and Uche were absolutely crushed. Separately, they each expressed a tremendous desire to stay and continue, speaking about their investment in the process.
‘And to be honest, I felt bad for them, because this is an amazing experience to participate in.’
After the pair were spoken to individually, it became clear that neither party was interested in exploring a relationship with each other.
‘We all agreed that, under the condition that they were not interested in each other, that they could stay if they did not immediately tell people about their history,’ Coelen added.
‘And at that point, on Day One of the pods, we all felt that the information wasn’t relevant, and we all agreed revealing it would have been destructive to everyone’s overall experience.’
Unsurprisingly, news of Lydia and Uche’s past romantic history came as a total shock to his strongest connection, Aaliyah Cosby – especially given that she had grown a close bond with Lydia.
Lydia and Uche decided not to pursue a romance in the Love is Blind pods after a series of discussions with the producers
The couple’s bombshell past caused friction between Lydia and her new friend Aaliyah Cosby – who was romantically interested in Uche
During one particularly awkward scene, Lydia relayed to her some personal details she had remembered of the relationship, despite Aaliyah telling her she didn’t want to know anything.
‘I know his friends,’ she said. ‘I’ve gone to a couple of events with his friends. I’m pretty sure you’re going to get along.
‘He is a workaholic. He is OCD. His house is dope, it’s a three-level house. Did he tell you he drives a Tesla? Did he tell you his favorite color?’
Speaking in the confessional after Lydia’s oversharing, Aaliyah admitted: ‘I don’t know if I can handle this situation.’
Lydia’s partner Milton Johnson was also taken aback by the bombshell and needed a moment to reflect.
At home, viewers have been vocal about the jaw-dropping plot twist, with some speculating that somehow Lydia found out that Uche was applying to she show and copied him.
‘I’m willing to bet my pension on the fact that Lydia probably heard from Uche’s friends that he had applied to #LoveisBlind and decided to apply for the show and told the producers she was going to provide this story arc,’ one said.
‘Why [do] I feel like Lydia knew Uche applied to the show n she followed him there,’ another said.
Elsewhere in his chat with Variety, Love is Blind creator Coelen insisted that cast members are physically and mentally protected throughout the entire process of filming the show.
It comes after allegations made by season two contestant Nick Thompson who claimed he was ‘held captive like a prisoner’ while filming. His love interest Danielle Ruhl also claimed the show cast her despite reportedly declaring her past mental health issues – including suicidal thoughts.
‘These are very serious issues that she describes, and if her recent allegations about her mental health history are true, unfortunately she didn’t disclose this before filming,’ Coelen said.
He continued: ‘We consistently reiterate to people at the end of their time in the experiment, “We really urge you to seek aftercare”.
‘Even for people who don’t feel like they “need it”, I encourage it, because I think you’ve spent a lot of time here talking about your feelings, and to all of a sudden just stop talking about your feelings, to me, would not be the best course of action.’
New episodes of Love Is Blind season 5 episodes arrive on Friday, September 29