Column: Married At First Sight Australia - addictive and awful viewing
I’ve started watching Married At First Sight Australia.
That isn’t a sentence I’d have written pre-lockdown, but the sheer awfulness of the show reeled me in as I channel surfed one weekend afternoon trying to find something that wasn’t Four In A Bed or Come Dine With Me.
It’s everything I loathe about television; shallow, pointless, screechy, and filled with people I’d probably hum and haw over saving if I saw their tour bus dangling dangerously over a cliff edge.
Can you meet and marry a complete stranger and live happily ever after?Probably not, but the very idea makes for great reality telly. I know, the words ‘great’ and reality telly’ rarely appear in the same sentence ...
The whole genre is a home for the world’s wannabes who aspire to becoming influencers - one of the most pointless ‘jobs’ ever invented.
They have hijacked the definition of celebrity, and drilled a hole in the bottom of the barrel to allow the a generation of fake tanned, two dimensional, smart-phone carrying hopefuls to squeeze through.
Scripted reality shows take that low bar to near subterranean levels.
And the current king of the pond is ‘Married At First Sight Australia’ which turns human drama into car crash telly.
Psychologists put the couples together, but it’s safe to say the producers want sparks to fly rather than domestic tranquility.
So, they find people with real flaws and insecurities, and put them at the very heart of situations which will expose those shortcomings to the max for our entertainment.
Some of these folk wear their issues like buttons on a coat - anxiety and trust are right up there, so might as well chuck some jealousy on to the pyre and watch the flames ignite.
At a commitment ceremony they get the chance to stay or leave, with the twist if one wants to remain then they both have to (cause that’s just like real life), and once they’ve been put through the wringer, get ‘em all round the table for that big showdown meal.
Every show needs villains and a bitch - this one has them in every second room, all guided by the invisible hand of the production crew.
It’s all about confrontation. Contrived, fake confrontation. Telly thrives on showdowns and the resolution and fall-out they spark.
It’s easy to laugh at the people on them, but that feels less comfortable when someone explaining that her mum gave birth to her sister while in a refugee camp is treated as nothing more than a throw-away line.
The whole genre is based on one thing. Ratings.
People are just fodder, to be presented however the producers care to edit an hour of dialogue down to a soundbite.
If you sign up on that understanding then good luck - you’ll need it once you’ve been spat out the other side as a two dimensional character mocked and abused on social media and demonised by the tabloids.
For a few, reality TV can open the door to good careers, but they had talent and drive already. The vast majority are forgotten about even before the adverts have finished.
That’s a hefty price to pay for stepping into this bear pit.
Is it really worth it?