Since the Oscars are merely a day away, reviewing one of the top shows on Aussie TV seems logical. Married at First Sight (MAFS) has been a hot ticket in our household. Though being reality TV, the characters and themes are still a poor man’s Oscar nominees. This season, with fresh faces, new twists, and high drama, is perfect prime time viewing after a long day. Last year was the first season we followed, and like the rest of Oz, we loved it. The current series is halfway through, and is every bit as good as advertised.
A novel format
MAFS landed on our television screens a few years ago. The show has been an international success, and was lauded for its originality. The novel format features up to 11 couples meeting each other for the first time on their wedding day. In other words, they’re getting married to a total stranger. Before the wedding bells chime, each participant informs their family and friends. Naturally, their announcement is met with shock and anger. On the wedding day, they say their vows before a marriage celebrant, but the union is not legally binding. They do not sign a marriage contract and instead meet their partner at the altar in a commitment ceremony. They spend their wedding night together, as well as the next four weeks. This takes dating to the extreme, with the participants living together first instead of taking it slowly. In this way, the programme does marriage in reverse, with the courtship and romance coming after the union.
The first week’s episodes are exclusively for pre wedding theatrics as well as the couples’ big days. The next week’s run feature the honeymoons, all spent in different locations. After the honeymoons, they get together for the first dinner party, where they meet and socialise with fellow couples. The dinner party then becomes a weekly affair, usually shown on Wednesdays, if not Thursdays. Meanwhile, the commitment ceremonies occur during Sundays, where each pair would write stay or leave on a card, their decision revealed before the experts and fellow participants. If that’s not enough drama, there’s the home stays, where they get to live in the guy or girl’s place, meet the family, and build their relationship. In the beginning, the yes week gives total control to one party. Ultimately, they should decide whether to remain in the union in the face of the distance between them, distinct personalities, and objections from their loved ones.
Real or fake?
Whew! That sounds full on, ay? The sparks and fireworks in each relationship hook you. Whether they have cute LQ’s like Troy and Ashley, or lacking affection like Justin to Carly; from Nasser’s stubbornness to Patrick’s thoughtfulness, the programme is riveting TV. However, it’s not just the drama between the couples, but also their bond with their families and their interaction with other couples that make for wicked entertainment. For instance, Davina showed interest in Dean, who felt likewise. Only problem was they were both married to different people. The texting between the two, their mutual attraction, and unsuspecting partners, dominated the ads for weeks. Even my friend took notice, asking me whether reality TV is for real. I said no, it wasn’t, but it’s still so much fun to watch. Who knows? Surely not all of it is fake, no?
I’m telling you there’s a lot that’s staged. Much of it is fixed, from the experts who decide the couples, the weekly dinner parties, and commitment ceremonies. I can likewise spot plastic surgery from miles away. I also noticed that when Dean told Davina that he liked her, he wasn’t even looking her in the eye. That set off some alarm bells. While their mutual understanding could’ve been real, I guess I just have my doubts. The ensuing dinner party, after the group finds out, was more unbridled drama. From Ryan (Davina’s partner) refusing to shake Deeno’s hand, to Telv absolutely attacking Deeno, and the entire room ignoring the latter, it was just a medley of emotions.
So far this season, 4 couples have bitten the dust. Two just quit, while the other two went packing after their respective commitment ceremonies. Now we’re down to seven. Amazingly, Dean and Tracy are still around, the latter being a martyr in spite of Deeno’s indiscretions. Ryan and Davina’s presence made for some awkward moments, and left Dean on an island. Melbourne-based dad, John, also became the first returnee in the show’s history. For us, he was the bridge between last year and this series. With his happy go lucky vibe, I’m glad he’s found love with Mel. After a troubled pairing last year, he deserves it, and his fellow batch mates know it. They gave him a rockstar welcome in their first supper.
With more action on the way, more commitments, and dinner parties, the stage is set for an epic second half. Whether you watch it on the couch at the usual time slot, or catch up on the go, one thing’s for sure: you can’t get enough of this radical ‘social experiment’.