Married at First Sight: the holy grail of commitment & the unhappy state of doomed relationships

The new ‘rules’ imposed on the mostly unhappy couples in this year’s installment of Married at First Sight provides yet more evidence (as if more were needed) that this show is the worst case of exploitative, scripted, manipulative reality TV ever invented.

The weekly ‘commitment’ ceremony (the bit where couples get to discuss the week’s progress) has been altered since the show’s inception. It used to be that if either of the couple elected to leave the experiment (throw the towel in on their faux marriage) then that person could…well…leave.

But now if either party writes ‘stay’ inside their little black folders then both parties must stay. Hm. Okay. Why? Well, you see the ‘experts’ explain: It’s an opportunity for couples to work out their differences and clear the air for love to grow. Because the sacred aim of relationships (it seems) is to make them ‘work’ at all costs – weather the torrid storms of better and worse…or worse and worse as is mostly the case – with or without the help of professional intervention.

And the professional intervention in this car-crash of a show is truly disturbing – encouraging the continuation of unhappy pairings for the sake of ratings, dismissing one party’s decision to leave in favour of gifting them with the blessing of further imprisonment. Because with the help of baby steps they can make things work – they get one more week to confirm or deny – is so and so really the incontrovertible cunt they discovered on their tropical honeymoon? Will their non-existent physical attraction somehow blossom into unstoppable passion? Will she get what she wants and finally be thrown on the bed? Will he no longer retch at the mere thought of engaging in flagrante relations?

Hey ‘experts’. It’s a pretty sick message to send out – advocating staying when leaving is clearly the best course of action. There are people out there trapped in abusive relationships who don’t need to hear that commitment trumps all. Okay? And Just admit it. Your new rule is designed for one very bad reason – to stir up trouble, add insult to injury and inflame the state of unhappy coupledom – cause after all, it is a rating game, and when other people suffer we get to feel so much better…and maximum conflict always gets the best boner.

 

Brides ignoring big red flags – toxic messages & Married at First Sight

I told myself I wouldn’t watch this year but I did. I did and I am. Watching the most disgusting, most manipulative, schadenfreude-y show on the box…

Anyhoo, last night on Married at First Sight, the ‘experts’ commented on the action taking place at the dinner party (the obligatory episode where the couples get drunk and act like fuckwits). They made a point of calling out the bad behaviour of the runaway hubby (called away on day one of his faux honeymoon to attend the funeral of his exe’s mother)

The bad behaviour was not the ‘running away’ to comfort his ex girlfriend in a time of need, but rather, his complete lack of empathy or ability to recognise his TV wife’s hurt – his failure to contact her for 5 whole days of his absence. He denied having received her message, and when he finally turned up late to the dinner party, greeted her with the incredibly insensitive sing-song, ‘Honey, I’m home!’

Mr Runaway then confides with Mr Arrogant in a quiet corner away from the ladies, and they write off the ropable bride’s feelings in the usual manner, calling her ‘illogical’ and dismissing her totally. They slap each others backs and say,  ‘Na mate, she’ll come good…” After all, Mr Runaway wants to ‘make it work’ (i.e. keep his repulsively handsome mug on show – on the show)

The experts (cough cough) who’s most venerable job is to match couples based on compatibility – such as a bloke with commitment issues and a sheila with abandonment ones, and a man who ejaculates backwards into his stomach with a woman desperate for children – quickly condemned Mr Runaway’s poor behavior. And that was good to see. But then…the condemnation is completely nullified by the next scene…the faux bride calmly explaining to her faux husband why she was so hurt, with the addition of a voice-over expressing Mr Runaway’s thoughts as she does so, taking the piss and making fun of her, painting her as a nagging bore and putting her down once again. Awful. Just awful.

On a previous episode, Mr Arrogant and his bride sip cocktails on a tropical beach paradise, and she begins to tell him about her life growing up in foster homes. He squirms, looks impatient, then finally blurts out that he’s ‘not her therapist.’ He goes on to explain – he really can’t handle listening to someone else for more than 2 minutes – and she was ‘raving on.’ At the dinner party, one of the brides confronts him – did she hear him say she was fake earlier on? He says no…in fact, on the contrary, he actually has a ‘high’ opinion of her – he thinks her a ‘pretty blonde’ and what’s more he’s ‘had plenty’ just like her, slapping her with a back-hand compliment (you’re dime a dozen sweetheart) Awful. Just awful.

But sadder still is that both brides of Mr Arrogant and Mr Runaway are too willing to forgive. They shut their eyes, and walk straight past the huge red flags waving in front of their faces, they both – as the blokes predicted with a nod and a wink – come good in the end.

 

Who the hell are these people? Blank-slates, The Bachelorette & the state of franchised romance.

Excuse me please producers of reality TV. Would it be possible to witness an actual conversation between the Bachelorette and one of her suitors? An exchange about their respective jobs perhaps? A line or two about something in passing or a few sentences that might provide insight into character?

Because I still don’t know what Ali does for a living (apart from her current role of face-on-screen). All I know is that she’s been unlucky in love, enjoys nature walks, and has a penchant for ‘exciting’ pursuits such as taking selfies and going on speed-boats (they haven’t pulled the helicopter ride out of the hat yet but that might come later).

I wonder why this lack of natural conversation is omitted from the show so rigidly, why every conversation orbits the central premise of the show in such a predictable drone-like fashion.

Personally I’m getting sick of hearing the same conversations repeated over and over. Intimate talks about importance of family, the vital role of trust and communication in successful relationships. Yeah. So what’s new? That a person desires a kind and loyal partner who can communicate feelings effectively should be a given, not a topic of conversation rehashed endlessly from episode to episode.

But we won’t discover any of the contestants political opinions or social values as the season continues – if Ali supports the removal of refugee children from Manus Island or if Box-jaw Bill thinks the Australian government should take immediate action on climate change before the planet dies and there’s no natural habitats left to stage romantic, picnic-rug themed getaways.

Of course it’s too difficult to allow contestants to express their views on subjects. Much less messy to follow a bland set of scripts that reveal next to nothing about the person, but if the producers were to allow contestants to open their mouths I think it would make for much better television. Instead of the current state of stuck-in-a-loop droning we’d got a better look at what’s under the hood, we’d be more invested, be able to make estimations as to compatibility and become more engrossed in the unfolding narrative.

But blank-slates with pretty faces are the staple at the Bachelorette and no doubt will be until the eventual demise of the behemoth franchise, after all, the blissful state of ignorance splices nicely with the workings of romantic love, a love that relies heavily on surface sheen and a whole lot of projection.

Far easier to fall in love with a creation in our minds than a messy warts-and-all person.

Avocado mousse, wrong reasons, & the best Aussie Bachelorette scene ever!

Okay. Lets all give a thanks to the Bachelorette’s Ivan for his supreme lack of culinary prowess. How wonderful that the poor man had no idea about the anatomy of an avocado. How delightful to watch this idiotic show slide firmly into the farcical.

The innocence of dear Ivan’s face as he shoved the two plump, pip-filled fruits into the blender and pressed go. The serious faces of intent as our bachelorette and her other suitor awaited desert, valiantly ignoring the insistent screech of the machine’s impotent grind.

But she kept her poker-face on straight – a task no doubt aided by the modern-day mother’s helper, botulinum toxin – for true love is no laughing matter, and our heroine is heroically and stoically determined to find the truth. Is Bill really there for the Right Reasons? Because Ali’s heard rumors from his rival what’s-his-name – the rugged, sun-tanned one who gets a bit wound up after a few too many vinos.

Cut to Ivan’s ongoing emasculation in the kitchen: prodding an avo’s stubborn pear-shaped body further into the blades with bemused consternation. 

Cut back to the hastily staged alfresco table. Is it true Bill? Our fair princess asks. Are you really here for me? Or, shock horror, are you here for the dreaded Wong Reasons? 

No, says Mr. box-jaw Bill, I’m here for you sweet lady, I am but a victim of the suntanned-boozer’s spiteful ways.  

Meanwhile Ivan appears with their pip-infused mousse. It’s a bit rough, he warns. Cut to the valiant Ali tasting said mousse, the spoon slipping self-consciously between plump, princess lips. The air is tense. The mousse is rough. It’s almost time to make her proclamation. Who will stay to win the fair maiden’s hand?

I’m sorry Ivan. The mousse was a bit rough and at the end of the day Ali has to Follow Her Heart. Not much choice when she knows next to nothing about what’s in his head.