Greta Thunberg, move over. Rather than sourcing new cast members for its latest “dating experiment,” Netflix decided to reduce, reuse, recycle … contestants! Perfect Match gave our favorite franchises’ runners-up, home-wreckers, and redemption seekers an opportunity to pair up (both romantically and strategically) to compete in a series of challenges to approximate compatibility, sabotage other couples, and last long enough to be deemed the “perfect match.” The cross-franchise reunion special slash dating show slash strategy competition broke ground in both format complexity and swimsuit technology.
Ines Tazi, from the French iteration of The Circle, had no idea what to expect when she got the call from Netflix U.S. But as a newly single and self-proclaimed “sucker for love,” she decided to take the plunge. Her run on the show was a roller coaster, matching with former contestants from Love Is Blind (Shayne, Bartise, Damian), The Mole (Will), and The Circle (Nick) before eventually realizing what the rest of us knew from the start: She was way out of those losers’ league. Her unapologetic vulnerability, refusal to settle, and frequent quoting of ancient French wisdom set her apart from the rest of the cast and made her an early fan favorite. Writing her own happy ending, Tazi chose herself and walked away single. Despite the string of failed connections, she maintains that the strongest match to emerge from the house was between herself and eventual winner Dom Gabriel. Although the pair never engaged romantically, their chemistry was palpable, and they remain close to this day. “That’s the strongest match that happened in the house,” she tells Vulture. “It just didn’t end up being a romantic one.”
Your Netflix origin story starts with The Circle, and you were in a relationship at that time. Now you’re returning to TV, single, a few years later. What was your thought process when you got the call from Netflix?
I don’t wanna say a sign from the universe, but kind of! After The Circle, I didn’t consider myself an influencer; I really considered myself an entrepreneur. Even when I went on The Circle, my company was everything I focused on. But the month I was launching it, I had burnout, and I was a bit heartbroken for the first time in my life. Then I got this phone call like, “Hey, it’s Netflix U.S. We’re thinking of this crazy show.”
To be honest, I didn’t know the concept of the show, but it was about love, and I was genuinely in the process of learning. I was in three three-year-long relationships — basically my whole life was in a relationship. It was only a year I was single, and I was really asking myself, Where do I wanna live? What do I wanna love? Who am I? What are my nonnegotiables in the relationship? I was literally on dating apps and dating guys and trying to figure out what the hell I wanted. So coming into a dating show and having done that introspective work was very organic.
How hopeful did you feel about meeting someone going into the show?
Some of the people I met I stayed so close with, so I knew you could make meaningful connections. With Perfect Match, obviously it’s a dating show and there’s cameras, so you’re not going there thinking, I’m gonna meet the father of my kids. But I was like, Maybe I wanna meet someone who went through a similar experience that I did through Netflix. I wasn’t happy living in Paris, so I was definitely thinking I could move into the U.S., and I did end up moving to the U.S. I’m very spontaneous when it comes to love. Like, if I like someone, Oh God, I don’t care. I’m just gonna book a flight the next day.
You never know what life is gonna throw at you or when or where you’re going to meet your person.
Also the fact that I matched with Shayne at the beginning and he didn’t care about the cameras and I didn’t understand the rules of the game. I didn’t understand it was a strategic thing. I liked him, and when we matched, it just felt very natural. Then he rejected me, and that put me in a vulnerable position from the very early days.
This show moves faster than any other dating show I’ve watched with people having to push so quickly through rejection and conflict in order to seek out a new match before time ran out. How did that impact the game for you?
It’s difficult to hold on to your self-confidence when you’re rejected so many times without understanding why, without processing it, and still being in the game — the same way it can create pressure in real life. But on the show, you don’t get a lot of alone time. And, for me, being alone is something that is so precious that you need in order to be a good partner or a good match. You need to be totally good when you’re by yourself. Not having those alone moments was difficult.
It’s a lot of processing in a short amount of time and in front of all these people, including the person you’re trying to get over.
The first step is being honest with yourself, and that’s a hard exercise. I built everything you saw on the show from my own experience: how to deal with love, how to deal with myself. This is lifelong work. It’s been very challenging, but you also learn a lot. At the end of the day, I was happy I didn’t really question my self-worth based on whether a man would pick me or not. I wasn’t like, Oh my God, no one likes me in the house. Well, I’m a shit person.
When you decided to leave, it was because nobody left on the show was on your level. Can you talk about what it was like to make that decision?
I realized there was not much left for me anymore. I was done trying to sell myself short. It was important to show that you can genuinely pick yourself and be vulnerable. I believe empowerment and vulnerability come hand in hand. And I thought it was really empowering to be like, “This is not working for me.” It was my happy ending.
Setting aside the romantic connections, what other kinds of connections did you make? Were you giving advice, making friends, networking?
Everyone was really kind and caring to me, but it did feel like not everyone understood me. They perceived me as that French Moroccan girl who’s a bit random. But my safe space was definitely Dom since day one. We are still so close, and he’s someone I know will be there for me and will be my friend when we’re 55 and chilling and drinking coffee. The first second we saw each other, the first word, it just made sense. But I met friends for a lifetime. I was really friends with Francesca. Anne-Sophie, Abbey, Chloe — those are people I’m really close to.
Did this experience totally turn you off to American men?
Oh, no, no! It’s kind of funny ’cause everyone’s coming to me in America like, “I’m so sorry, girl!” But I’m definitely not closing the door to dating American men. I’m single and just happy to get to explore L.A. I’m focusing on myself for the time being, but I’m definitely not closing the door. Like I said, I’m a sucker for love.