OK I’m pretty ashamed to admit that I am completely and totally hooked on the cringe-worthy Married At First Sight (MAFS). There’s nothing quite like plonking myself on the couch after a long day of work and switching off my critical mind and switching on to people’s mediocre drama. And whilst this season has sparked a lot of controversies, cue Innes emotionally abusing her partner, Dino recording his partner’s phone call, Cyrell lashing out at Martha. Despite all these controversies and the heated reactions of the public, the one thing I have a bone to pick with is MAFS’ creation of the crazy woman.
Firstly, a disclaimer, I am not condoning any of the, quite frankly, disgusting behaviour shown on MAFS by anyone. But I think it’s important to question why all the drama and the ‘crazy ones’ are women. And yes, I’m well aware that this ‘reality TV show’ isn’t actually reality (if those dramatic edits don’t give it away I don’t know what does), but it does reflect society back to us as we watch through the screens. So whether it’s heavily edited or not, what’s shown to us is pretty damn important. And what I’m critical of is their blatant creation of the crazy woman. Lastly, who knows if the people on this are real people looking for love, actors, or crazy robots, but what is portrayed to me, and millions of nightly viewers, is that this is some kind of a reflection of real life.
MAFS have seriously created the ‘crazy woman.’ From Innes, to Elizabeth, Cyrell to Martha, Susie to Jessika, this season is loaded with ‘crazy women.’ Not only are they the centre of and cause of all of the drama and scandals on the show, but they’re pinned against each other. Who’s hotter, who’s got bigger lips, bigger boobs, a better relationship with their husband, can be bitchier towards one another? It’s all a competition and the men just sit back and soak it all up.
I find some of the things said by the men on the show very problematic, that are often overlooks by the ‘psychologists’ on the show. When Mike speaks like he knows it all, telling Heidi to calm down and not take responsibility for what he’s done or said, it makes me cringe and my blood boil. When Dino records his wife on the phone, when Matthew freaks out about Lauren’s sexuality… there’s a lot of ‘crazy’ stuff going on there that is completely overlooked and overshadowed by the apparent craziness of their wives.
What I don’t understand, is that yes, these producers apparently have a lot of power up their sleeve. From filming a scene for hours until someone states they ‘used to be a lesbian,’ or making ridiculous comments, why the hell is this power being used for the same old, boring, predictable shit? I understand it’s easy and a cheap laugh, but seriously, don’t you want to be a part of something bigger? Better? Why not create the character (because they all are characters) of a smart, intelligent, complex woman? Why not address issues that mean a lot to Australians? What about unemployment, unaffordable housing rates, our fears of climate change, where our clothes come from, or the rise of veganism?
It seems that the only people who have shown a hint of vulnerability and talking about something meaningful is Nick and his victory with cancer and Bronson who lost several family members. Even Matthews ‘virgin status,’ that could have been a really beautiful moment to discuss male sexuality and the pressure of modern dating. But no, he was labelled ‘Matthew the virgin,’ or ‘Matthew the ex-virgin.’ (I’m sorry but doesn’t literally everyone on this planet falls into one of those two categories? It’s really not a defining characteristic – they would have been better off saying ‘Matthew the brunette.’) It’s awesome that they’re creating complex, emotional and vulnerable men, but why do the women have to fall under the category of hot, crazy or wife material?
I think it’s a difficult topic because we usually tune in to reality TV shows to switch our brains off, but that doesn’t mean we should switch our standards and values off too. Even the Kardashians are capable of addressing bigger problems (cue family break up, relationships, childbirth, trans women, homelessness, sex tapes and lost earrings). And that’s saying something.
If there’s any light at the end of the tunnel, we know it’s Cam and Jules (I swear if I find out they’re involved in any scandals I will scream in unison with the rest of Australia). They’re the ‘parents’ of the show and the sweethearts who treat each other with respect, honesty and compassion. Jules talked about the importance of children in her future and how that was a deal breaker for her (many women go through this moral dilemma). And Cam talked about his height insecurity, and tendency to put his career before his love life. These are both things that many Australians can relate to and can spark simple and productive conversation.
No, I’m not expecting too much from MAFS or any other reality TV show. You can still have the drama, the scandals and the crazy characters. You can keep your drama, scandals and crazy characters, but please don’t make them all about women!