Love Prison: A Captivating Look at Online Dating

Billy and Jeanne see if online romance works IRL on A&E's Love Prison.
Love Prison (Photo: A&E)

A&E has found a way to combine online dating and Big Brother with their new docu-series Love Prison. Should you pay a visit or throw away the key?

Show

Love Prison, which airs Mondays at 10pm on A&E.

Premise

Each episode, a couple whose relationship has been completely online will be sent to a deserted island for seven days to see if there is any IRL chemistry. The couple will have to spend 23 hours of each day1 in a Big Brother type house with cameras everywhere and very little in terms of entertainment. During the week, casting interviews will be shown on the living room monitor to reveal harsh truths. Will true love prevail, or will the façade of online personas crumble?

Lineage

The show is produced by Leftfield Pictures, whose biggest claim to fame is Pawn Stars. There are interstitial text cards of narration and shade throwing reminiscent of Hoarders.

Who is Love Prison For?

Certainly those of us jonesing for a Bachelor in Paradise replacement next week. Also, if you have a lot of baggage associated with online dating, this may help you confront/confirm your worst fears.

What Works

There was almost no background music, which I think is a bold choice and really works in the show’s favor. The setting instantly reminded me of the main island from Myst, which was also bolstered by having only ambient sound. There are several elements of horror movies (perhaps unintentionally) mixed in. In the episode with Jeanne/Billy, they compare the shower to the one in Psycho, the multiple video feeds will remind you of Paranormal Activity, and Jeanne commented when she first arrived that the house felt haunted.

What Doesn’t Work

I mean, the basic premise of this show is totally bonkers. Yes, there is the genuine fear that the person you have been talking to online is not who s/he says s/he is (see: Catfish) and I like the idea of exploring this phenomenon. But seven days of non-stop exposure? My hugaboo2—who I met online—and I didn’t spend a full non-stop weekend together until about six months into our relationship. Last month was the first time we saw each other on seven or so consecutive days, but even then we had alone time at our separate residences. How any two people can spend 168 hours together with no other human interaction seems doomed to fail.

Verdict

Love Prison is self-contained episode-by-episode. As the reality television “social experiment” subgenre continues to be a thing, this show seems to be a good model for how it can work. Also: bonkers, to the point that Clare has agreed to cover it for the site. Give it a shot.

  1. they get 1 hour of “yard time” each day  
  2. Not my pet name for him  

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About Mike McComb 656 Articles
Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it "TV Camp." After a lengthy stint at TVLatest, Mike wanted to launch a site that brought in classic TV, diamonds in the rough, and the shows everybody watches. E-mail: mike@whatelseison.tv