While I’d be the last person to claim that ‘Married at First Sight’ (Channel 9) is a noble use of the television medium, I am not advocating the (popular) opinion that it’s the worst kind of TV tripe. Surprisingly enough, I found my cynicism left me about 10 minutes into watching the first installment last week. Here’s why.
For those not in the know, ‘MAFS’ is a ‘social experiment’ whereby three matchmaking experts match up four heterosexual Australian couples from a pool of single and willing participants. The very first time these four couples meet is when they have a wedding commitment ceremony (which doesn’t constitute a legal marriage). They are then followed for the next month by the cameras to see if the relationship develops past that first flush of attraction (if indeed there is a flush to begin with). If it does, the couple can sign the necessary paperwork and legalise the marriage. If not, I suppose there’s not much harm done? A couple of AWW covers and that will the end it of it.
I’m not opposed to this show at all because I don’t think it makes any sort of mockery of relationships or marriage. That is obviously the outcome these people want. People meet in all sorts of ways – work, the supermarket, the pub, the internet, in Edinburgh gardens if you are a hipster. But people are busier than ever these days, things are highly competitive and despite the many, many channels, people still struggle to find that one person for a long term commitment. I write with some authority on this subject – I am happily in a wonderful relationship now but was a lone ranger for many, many years. I remember all too well the feelings that some of these people talk of in the show – ‘I have tried everything’, ‘I can’t seem to meet the right people’, ‘I never thought I’d be on my own at this age.’ I also remember the ill-fitting advice I was inevitably offered ‘it will happen when you don’t look’, ‘have you tried the internet?’ or my favourite ‘I think you are being a bit picky’. So here’s another avenue for these eight people to try – and best of luck to them I say.
I guess the trick is that when you meet someone, and a great deal of luck comes into this as well, you have chemistry / compatibility / timing and willingness with that person. If you miss one of these bits, you may have a tough time of it. The super chemistry you have with that divorced father? Yep, I know you are compatible and I know you both want it – but with timing? Forget it. What about the lovely laid back guy you met at 27? You were terribly compatible; timing wasn’t bad, but utterly no willingness from other of you to make an effort. You silly old things. What about that adorable Irishman you met once? He ticked all the boxes, but imagining him naked made you feel odd – and not in a good way. You need all of these ingredients, and then you may have a shot at something real.
With this show, we can be assured that at least the timing and the willingness are there. The people in this show are open about the fact they are ready and willing to form a long lasting bond. And I found myself believing them – they all seem like very decent, nice people. The psychologists do some sort of profiling to determine who will be compatible in values and outlook. Publicity for the show has insisted that there aren’t any reality tv wannabees and everyone involved there is respecting the process. And as one of the women remarked on camera: ‘why not give this a go?’
Well why not indeed? Apart from the fact it is a little bit bizarre and a big bit public, why not try this if Tinder didn’t work for you? You don’t want to die wondering.
So despite its tacky reality telly premise, the people and their emotional landscape are quite genuine – the producers chose their subjects well. I actually think it’s rather courageous. And the quest for love will always be a subject dear to me.
Conversely, even if you don’t agree with the premise, it’s winter in Melbourne and you may as well watch it as there’s nothing on ABC. It is somewhat amusing watching Zoe, the stunning city twentysomething, who is adamant in an on camera interview she ‘doesn’t want a bogan’. The viewers then are presented with her future husband Alex, a plumber from the Gully, yelling ‘Muuuuum! I can’t do up me top button!’. (Kudos to the editor that made that piece of telly magic a reality). So these two are compatible? Well I’m not expert I suppose! But fair play to both of them. Why not after all…
Jogupdate: 5.5k quite easily on Sunday – weights programme making difference perhaps?