Bliss Is Orange

By Jenna Kanell | Sci-Fi
A young woman discovers her soulmate is nearby when her implant chip lights up...

In a world where people are implanted with chips that light up to determine compatibility with one another, Claire is a solid orange with her boyfriend. They’ve known each other for a while, enjoy each other’s company and share a home and life. They’re also due to be married soon, which will allow them to remove their chips.

This world is full of orange matches: they’re solid, comfortable and full of contentment. But one day in the wake of a rare green match — indicating a perfect match with “The One,” and celebrated in the world with headlines, sponsorships and offers of various luxuries — Claire’s wrist then lights up with a green light at the cafe where she works. The possibility of a rare perfect match upends Claire’s expectations of the future she imagined, and perhaps the very foundation of her self.

Written by Samantha Weissert and directed by Jenna Kanell, this charming romance short leverages its simple yet clever sci-fi conceit to explore notions of “the one,” contentment and how our assumptions impact the pursuit of love. With a lightness of touch, it wrangles a slender thread of narrative action into a snapshot of a potentially life-changing encounter, though its resonance plays out differently than either Claire or the audience expects.

With its witty dialogue and sunny, cheerful cinematography, the film possesses a style and sheen that’s both aspirational and down-to-earth, and familiar to aficionados of the rom-com genre. And like many other rom-coms, the performances by actors Victoria Ealy as Claire and Jade Fernandez as her co-worker April have a fresh, zingy rhythm and brightness that’s enjoyable. It feels like we are at the cafe with them, hanging out and enjoying time together. If not for the lights flashing on and off on people’s wrists, viewers might never expect a sci-fi angle in the narrative.

But like many other stories in that genre, it uses its gizmos and gadgets to interrogate society and its conventions. It cleverly sets up a possibility that many people would perhaps be thrilled about: wouldn’t it be nice to have a chip that could gauge compatibility with one another, and wouldn’t it be amazing if a sensor could indicate when a perfect match was found? Yet getting that green light puts Claire in a tailspin, offering her a glimpse of something bigger and better than she expected for herself — but also offering her a surprising insight into who she is.

In many ways, “Bliss Is Orange” is almost wish fulfillment and a logical extension in a world where algorithms predict dating and relationship matches. But the conclusion that it sets up and then undercuts offers a different gloss on how certain mores in the world might prove a barrier to “true love.” It’s also a snapshot into how we can fall into lives that feel fine enough, but may not be the authentic expressions of one’s innermost heart.

But it also wisely teases other philosophical conundrums. By holding out for one perfect match promising ultimate happiness, might it keep us from being content? And just how important is it for us not just to find the right person, but to ourselves be the right version of ourselves at just the right time and place in life? “Bliss Is Orange” cuts its story short before we can go deeper into this rich thematic territory. But it hints that the course of true love may not be just about the search for someone, but also finding your true self.

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