Life & Culture

Married At First Sight Australia review: Love IS a drug – and I’m hopelessly addicted

This programme has destroyed my life. I’m hooked, and powerless to resist its allure


Hitched: Married at First Sight Australia couple Cassandra Allen and Tristan Black at their betrothal (Photo: Channel 4)


It’s all my daughter’s fault. She’d heard – no doubt on TikTok – about a programme that was beginning a new series. We were on the sofa together and I was reading, so when she asked if she could put it on, I grunted that it was fine. And so began my crack habit.

TV crack, I should make clear. But it might as well be the drug, because Married At First Sight Australia has destroyed my life. Fed the opening episode, which I caught out of the corner of my eye, I was almost immediately hooked and powerless to resist my demand for the next hit.

In theory, I am spending all my free time writing a book. In practice, I am now sitting lobotomised on the sofa catching up with the latest episodes. Last year’s tenth season had 36 episodes, each of which lasted an hour and a half. You do the maths.

Now it’s back, and I am 11 episodes in. My addiction is so bad even my daughter now shuns me. I texted her when I saw the season was starting. She replied: “Dad, I have homework to do. I don’t have time for it.” Role reversal or what?

Let me tell you about MAFS Australia, as it’s known to we addicts. The title pretty much explains everything. Over the course of the 36 episodes, 13 couples meet for the first time at the altar and we follow how they get on over their honeymoon and then living together in Sydney. (No, they’re not actually married; this is reality TV and surely everyone knows by now that reality TV isn’t reality.)

Why is this being reviewed in the Jewish Chronicle, you ask? I’m not aware that any of the participants are landsmen, as it were. But the very premise of the show is old-school Jewish: the producers, who sift through profiles of supposedly eligible men and women and introduce them to each other, are shadchanim, and the entire show is based on a series of shidduchim.

But while it’s fun to see the “wedding” ceremonies and their initial reactions to each other, the meat of the series is what happens next. And the word that best sums this up is neurosis, as we see how they behave around each other, the rows over nothing, the rows over something, the insecurities, the… Jewish marriages, much?

The genius of the show — I can only vouch for the series I have seen — is that most of the participants aren’t freaks. There are some pantomime villains — this is TV, after all — but most are relatable. So you start to be invested in what happens to them. And it’s structured to produce fireworks, with “dinner parties” and “commitment ceremonies” for all the participants every few episodes, at which they play out their rows and their demands. The commitment ceremony might sound hippy dippy, but it’s simply each of the couples being grilled by the show’s so-called experts — marriage counsellors and sex therapists. And it’s gripping seeing their behaviour being pulled apart.

The misanthrope in me especially likes seeing the couples who seem perfect for each other turn out to be nothing of the sort, like the shy, terminally insecure Tristan and the sweet, patient, caring Cassandra, who, as this latest series has developed, have come to resent each other’s very existence.

It’s not for everyone; this being TV, there is a huge emphasis on when the couples first sleep together and how this develops. When it emerges that one self-declared highly sexed couple, Tori and Jack, have not in fact slept together, it becomes the main topic for conversation at one of the dinner parties.

I don’t make any pretence that this is elevated TV. It is a waste of my time, and will be of yours if you watch it. But, my word, it’s a wonderfully entertaining waste of time.

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