“Someone hooked up with me and then very quickly texted me saying, you know, ‘I have a boyfriend, but I think you’d be really great on the show I’m on. do the casting, are you interested?’” Hartwell recalled in an interview with CNN.
While he can’t say for sure that the casting agent was out there looking for potential contestants, he says most of the cast in Season 2 of Netflix’s “Love Is Blind,” the show on which he was chosen, did not actually apply. by them selves.
“They were contacted in some way on social media,” he told other cast members.
“Love Is Blind,” which was nominated for an Emmy Award this week for Outstanding Structured Reality Show, features 15 men and 15 women who are placed in individual isolation rooms, or “pods,” where they are paired with a competitor in a separate room. They then have conversations to see if they can connect with someone — and possibly get engaged — without actually seeing them.
Hartwell says he agreed to appear on the show after verifying the agent’s Instagram account and his work.
“Actually, I’ve never really been into reality TV. It’s never been more entertaining for me,” Hartwell said. “But I have a personal philosophy of seeking new experiences, of challenging myself, of doing things that seem scary – and that kind of stuff fits all the criteria there. I decided to throw my hat in the ring. I never thought I would get thrown away.”
Hartwell’s experience on the second season of “Love Is Blind” began in April 2021, when producers booked him on an early morning flight from Chicago to Los Angeles.
“When filming started, the flight was very, very early for [a few of] us and I believe it was to separate the men and women, so we wouldn’t see each other,” he said, adding that things got “uncomfortable” almost “immediately”.
“We were constantly being told not to talk to each other, not to talk about things while we waited for people to finish picking up their bags and get on the shuttle to be taken to orientation,” he says, then that some of the show’s participants were transported at the same time.
Competitors were reminded not to communicate with each other, Hartwell said, even cordially.
After an introductory speech from the producers, Hartwell said the contestants’ personal belongings were searched and their cellphones, wallets and identification were confiscated.
“They told us they were going to take our cell phones, so that was expected, but taking our wallets, passports, any identifying information, that was very unexpected,” he says, adding that “I rubbed the wrong way”.
“They searched all of our luggage – if you’ve ever seen a military movie, boot camp, where they just searched the recruit’s luggage, but that’s exactly what it was. They searched each of our personal baggage, personal effects, presumably to make sure we didn’t have some kind of contraband.”
After that, Hartwell says the producers sent everyone to their separate hotel rooms.
“We were basically locked in the room,” he says. “The very first thing they did was isolate us in our rooms for about 24 hours straight.”
Hartwell alleges that snacks and water were so scarce that they had to wait hours for fresh water if they were thirsty.
On the second day, the actors took media photos and videos.
“Most of the activity was punctuated by long periods of waiting,” says Hartwell.
Once production began, Hartwell says he tried to battle the effects of sleep deprivation after long hours of filming under bright lights. On set and back at his hotel, Hartwell says he didn’t have access to food and water, but alcohol was available — and even encouraged on an empty stomach.
In June, Hartwell filed a lawsuit against Netflix, Kinetic Content and Delirium TV, the production company and casting company behind the show, for a number of labor law violations, including “inhumane working conditions” and insufficient pay for the number of casting hours. members worked.
Netflix did not respond to CNN’s request for comment.
In a statement to CNN in response to Hartwell’s complaint, Kinetic Content and Delirium TV wrote, “Mr. Hartwell’s involvement in ‘Love is Blind’ Season 2 lasted less than a week. Unfortunately, for Mr. Hartwell, his trip ended shortly after he failed to develop a meaningful bond with another participant.While we don’t speculate on his motives for taking legal action, Mr. Hartwell’s allegations Hartwell are completely unfounded and we will vigorously defend ourselves against his assertions.
Hartwell’s attorney, Chantal Payton of Payton Employment Law in Los Angeles, told CNN that the lack of adequate food and isolation “made cast members crave social connections and altered their emotions and grip.” of decision”.
The class action lawsuit proposed by Hartwell is on behalf of all participants in “Love Is Blind” and other unscripted productions created by the defendants over the past four years. He is seeking unpaid wages, financial compensation for missed meal breaks, damages for unfair business practices and civil penalties for violations of the labor code.
Kinetic Content is also producing “The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On” and “Married at First Sight”, both of which stream on Netflix.
Season 3 of “Love Is Blind” will premiere on Netflix later this year.
For Hartwell, he says he hopes to change the practices of some reality shows in the future.
“It’s about justice and it’s not about money for me. It’s not about exposure,” Hartwell said. “I strongly believe that these practices are wrong and need to change. And the reason I’m making these efforts with this lawsuit is that I hope this will become a catalyst for these changes, so that future TV actors -reality don’t. have to go through it.”