Married at First Sight: I'm hooked, but divorce is looming

by Diana Wichtel / 06 October, 2017
RelatedArticlesModule - Married at First Sight

Why would someone marry a complete stranger on TV? Why not? 

Apparently, it’s harder to find someone to marry these days than it is to buy a do-up in Auckland, though there’s a reality show for that, too. “Online dating, mobile dating … There’s almost too much choice!” declared an expert on Three’s Married at First Sight NZ.

This show offers contestants the sort of choice viewers of early-evening broadcast television who want something other than reality nonsense get most nights: bugger all.

Why would 12 more-or-less normal people agree to marry total strangers for our entertainment? As in so many areas of life in our crazy times, the answer seems to be, “why not?” In the Australian version, the couples couldn’t actually marry. That country had the foresight to discourage marriage that had been considered for less time than it takes to make microwave popcorn. But our strangers actually tie the knot. As 51-year-old function co-ordinator and pole exerciser Claire kept saying, “Shit’s getting real.”

It’s about science, apparently. “The best way forward to find authentic love is reflected beautifully in this social experiment, Married at First Sight,” promised the show’s counsellor, Tony. I have no idea what that means but it sounds reassuring. It’s a social experiment. What could possibly go wrong?

So far it seems the show has selected contestants who are easily pleased – “I do not want a corpse,” went one wish list – though there are no ratings in everyone just getting on, which is what threatened to be happening by the end of episode one.

Luke is a bearded warehouse manager, surfer and something of a philosopher: “You feel humbled when you go in the ocean … It’s a whole lot of water.” He was matched with consultant Lacey, who wasn’t after a beard. Never mind. She was a good sport, even when Luke decided that wisecracking his way through the admittedly cursory ceremony was the way to go and chivalrously declared his bride a “7.2”.

Couples-to-be on MAFS: seductive, but not for long.

Couples-to-be on MAFS: seductive, but not for long.

Claire scored another comedian, 58-year-old Dom, a former policeman whose nickname in the force was Mr Fluffy. Claire just wanted someone taller than her and possibly less fluffy. Never mind.

Drama? Not really. Thank goodness for Claire’s daughter, who spent most of the episode not wanting a bar of this: “I’m over it. I’m done. I’m over it …” Enter Mr Fluffy, to charm her into submission. “I’d like him to be taller but he’ll grow on me,” mused Claire. Indeed, the couple were last seen in fluffy hotel bathrobes, snogging gamely for the camera.

The mercifully shorter Monday episode saw two more couples confessing to family about this marriage-market madness. “What aisle?” quavered Angel’s dad. “Not the supermarket,” said Angel. She seemed happy with signmaker Brett, and it was mutual. ”I can’t wait to absorb her energy!” beamed Brett.

But then, oh dear. As the experts matched flight attendant Vicky with builder Andrew, was I the only one yelling “No! No!” at the television? Andrew is a “rough diamond” with a pet pig. He confessed enigmatically that two of his former girlfriends had become strippers. Vicky loves Disney. At least she’s unlikely to become a stripper.

Her wedding vows came in the form of a poem, never a good sign: “I’ve walked this Earth on these two feet, uncertain, unknowing of who I’d meet …” It all went very awkward, very fast. Andrew ended up consigned to the couch, leading to such unromantic headlines as, “Bride Vicky refuses to sleep with husband Andrew”. It was all a bit tragic.

On the plus side, this social experiment tries to be a little inclusive, experimenting on a gay couple and a couple over 50. But at two-and-a-half hours a week, plus ironic online recaps, the series eats up as much time as some actual marriages. Like the couples, the show has hooked me in, but not necessarily for the long haul. Divorce may be looming.

MARRIED AT FIRST SIGHT NZ, Three, Sunday, 7pm and Monday, 7.30 pm.

This article was first published in the October 14, 2017 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

Colin Hogg: Why my mates matter (and keep on ending up in my books)
102594 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Books

Colin Hogg: Why my mates matter (and keep on endin…

by Colin Hogg

With his second book about Sam Hunt proving a hit, Colin Hogg ponders why so much of his writing career has been inspired by his mates.

Read more
Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot People’s Choice Award
102345 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Top 50 Restaurants

Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot P…

by Metro

Vote for your favourite dish in the 2019 Peugeot People’s Choice Award and be in to win dinner for two.

Read more
Death of the gods: The woeful response to kauri dieback disease
102578 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Planet

Death of the gods: The woeful response to kauri di…

by Bob Harvey

The closer you get to a kauri, the more you realise you are looking at one of the wonders of the planet.

Read more
National’s failure to grasp climate change a major challenge for NZ
102598 2019-02-21 00:00:00Z Planet

National’s failure to grasp climate change a major…

by Steve Abel

National's Bluegreen wing are set to hold their annual conference this weekend. Greenpeace’s Steve Abel will be there to challenge the party.

Read more
The native Mandarin speaker who's translating te reo on television
102606 2019-02-20 22:10:47Z Education

The native Mandarin speaker who's translating te r…

by Vomle Springford

Lidu Gong first started learning te reo in bed.

Read more
Win a double pass to Everybody Knows
102573 2019-02-20 13:19:44Z Win

Win a double pass to Everybody Knows

by The Listener

Starring Penélope Cruz and Javier Bardem, Everybody Knows is a gripping new thriller about the fissures and fault lines that can tear a family apart.

Read more
Fall into a beautiful abyss at this must-see dance show in Auckland
102571 2019-02-20 12:12:54Z Where to go in Auckland

Fall into a beautiful abyss at this must-see dance…

by Metro

A contemporary dance show that marries dystopian anxiety with raw energy is a must-see at the Auckland Arts Festival.

Read more
Climate change declaration 'politically charged' – Thames-Coromandel mayor
102563 2019-02-20 09:39:08Z Planet

Climate change declaration 'politically charged' –…

by Kate Gudsell

A push to get local authorities to sign up to a declaration on climate change is "politically charged and driven", the Thames-Coromandel mayor says.

Read more