During the COVID-19 pandemic, dating may be out of the picture for many people practicing social distancing. However, Rance Nix, a University of Georgia graduate, and his roommate, Thi Q. Lam, saw an opportunity to create their Instagram dating show, “Love Is Quarantine.”
The two roommates initially formed the idea in their apartment in New York after binge-watching the Netflix show, “Love Is Blind.” After two days of social isolation, they configured a Google spreadsheet and gathered a group of friends to spread the word about their new blind dating show.
“At first it was only guys that signed up,” Nix said. “After we begged my friend Roman Banks, who’s actually on Broadway, we had about 30 more names added to the spreadsheet ready to meet each other.”
Nix graduated from UGA’s Grady College of Journalism and Mass Communication, where he “caught the entertainment bug.” Nix’s life at UGA, which included hosting events with UGA Miracle, UGA HEROs and Greek Grind, has impacted his work ethic and his work pursuits in New York, he said.
The process of the show began with texting the participants, who signed up via Google Sheets, the phone numbers of the contestants they would be going on dates with. They were then put in “pods,” which are cells on the spreadsheet which set them up with each other for a date.
Like the original show, dates on “Love is Quarantine” were meant to be completely blind. All dates were a voice conversation via phone call — no texts, no pictures and no Facetiming, Nix said.
Each “season” only lasts one night, and Lam and Nix do all the matching for the participants. The Instagram account is dedicated to posting the contestants’ reactions after the date so viewers can follow along at home.
Many of the Instagram posts include screenshots of the dater’s texts explaining how they feel about the other person. Other posts are videos of the daters explaining how they feel and even making their final decision on who they want to match with and eventually meet in person.
“‘Love Is Quarantine’ gave me three great dates and three hard decisions,” said contestant Justin Cyrus in an Instagram video.
The daters had their share of good and bad experiences from each phone call with not many matches coming out of the first round. Many of the participants did not find anything special from the first calls, but Nix and Lam did not let that stop them. They continued to set contestants up for the next round of dates to find possible matches, leading to two or three couples wanting to carry on their conversations, Nix said.
The creators of the show rooted for their favorites and fans watched as the contestants took on various measures to show their interest in the other person. One participant even ordered pumpernickel bread from his date’s local bakery and had it delivered to her house after finding out it was her favorite kind of bread. Nix said this act was a fan favorite.
“Love Is Quarantine” represents all members of its community in New York by producing LGBTQ-supportive episodes, “Boomer’s” night where anyone over 60 years old can participate and a tall/short night to embrace relationships with significant height differences. Nix noticed a lack of diversity in the “Love Is Blind” contestants and planned on changing that in “Love Is Quarantine,” he said.
Fans follow along and leave their predictions and opinions in the comments of all the Instagram episodes. They show their support for certain couples over others by keeping up with each dater’s experience from all of the dates.
“We better get live updates when these [in real life] dates happen!” said one Instagram user under Cyrus’ video of his final decision.
For Nix and Lam, their satisfaction with the show comes from watching the daters find happiness from each date and experiencing the joy from the viewers as well. Additionally, they enjoy being able to help the daters distract themselves from the pandemic stress by trying to find love.
“I think, overall, my goal has always been to positively impact and inspire others through my life and my work,” Nix said. “So, with ‘Love Is Quarantine,' the community and connections have been my favorite part of this whole production.”
The show has had about 60 contestants, Nix said, and the two show creators have met about 50 people who followed along from the beginning. “Love Is Quarantine” formed a community through people who “live quite close to each other but didn’t realize it until meeting through the show,” said Nix.