As Love is Blind’s Lydia was introduced in the first episode of season 5, I felt a sense of dread. Not at who Lydia was, no. At who she was being portrayed as. Or, at what she was being portrayed as. Because the first episode of Love is Blind season 5 firmly established Lydia as the thing most Latinas would kill to never be seen as – the “spicy Latina.”
For some people, this might just be Lydia. After all, this is reality TV. Whatever the show is showing us, Lydia actually did or said. But that’s not how it works in reality TV. Shows like Love is Blind quickly identify a narrative, and pick and choose actions and words to reinforce it. People fall into stereotypes or are forced into them via the edit. There has to be a villain. There should be someone to root for. And, more often than not when it comes to our communities on reality TV, they are given the “spicy Latina” edit where we are loud, flirty, sexy, and our accents are a central focus.
This isn’t a Love is Blind specific problem, and Lydia is not the first Latina to be forced into this stereotypical depiction of what we are. The Too Hot to Handle franchise and The Ultimatum are guilty of this stereotype, and even in fiction, the “spicy Latina” trope has given us Gloria in Modern Family, Santana in Glee, and Gabrielle in Desperate Housewives, to name a few.
But this stereotype isn’t what we are – it’s not who Lydia is. And she deserves better than to be reduced to Hollywood or American media’s idea of Latinidad. She deserves better than for the show to hyperfocus when she’s loud, or constantly remark on her English like it’s a “cute joke” that the one person on the show who is bilingual doesn’t get every word in her second language right.
Just as Latine people are, in general, a very diverse group, Latinas can sometimes be loud, yes. But they can also be reserved and quiet. The same person can hold both moments where they want to talk to everyone and moments where they want to curl up and soak in the quiet. That doesn’t make them fake, it makes them human. The “spicy Latina” edit makes it seem like we aren’t capable of that duality.
Moreover, Lydia’s portrayal as the “spicy Latina” lends credence to the narrative of the “crazy Latina” trope from toxic men like Uche. Already social media is filled with comments that range from “Lydia on Love is Blind is why I barely have other Latina girlfriends,” to “Yeah Lydia from Love is Blind hitting all the crazy Latina tropes” to “Last year it was Jackie, then this year it’s Lydia. Something about Latina women.”
Lydia isn’t perfect, and like any other Latina, she can make mistakes. But it’s about time we start judging Latina women for what they do or say and not solely look at them through the lens of a stereotype we have not claimed and actively dislike, one that reality TV consistently leans into.
The first seven episodes of Netflix’s Love is Blind are available to stream now. Episodes 8 and 9 will be available this Friday, October 6th, with the final episode, which is set to feature the weddings, available on October 13th.