An Open Letter...
Dear Reality TV Applicant,
So you’re thinking of going on a TV show to meet the love of your life? A few of the participants of Married at First Sight from across the globe have come up with a some advice to help shed a little light on what you may be getting yourself in for.
Firstly, we know that most of you aren’t TV wannabes but you need to get used to being branded as that, by people you know and people you don’t or ever even want to get to know.
Recently there have been a lot of articles from all over the world about what really goes on behind the scenes and the participants have received a lot of backlash along the lines of: ‘the attention-seeking fame whores should have known this’, ‘the morons deserve everything they get’, ‘it’s TV, how were they surprised this happened to them/didn’t work out’. We all knew what we were getting ourselves into…none of us wanted the fame but we did accept that we were becoming, to a point, ‘public property’ by marrying strangers on a TV show.
We’re not here to badmouth anyone or claim ignorance for what we did, we just want the opportunity to advise those of you who are thinking of going down a similar path. We also want to say that everyone’s experience is different, we’re all individuals and very complex creatures.
1. First and foremost, it is a TV show. I know we’re stating the obvious here but you must keep this in mind. There will be hundreds of hours of footage that will be cut down to minutes of airtime and it’s totally out of your control. Just make sure you’re ok with losing that control and, when it does air, keep in mind that you and the people that matter to you know the reality of it all.
2. Taking part in a TV show (particularly if it involves the biggest relationship/life decision ever) is going to cause fractures in friendships and with family. We all had some amazingly supportive people but some of us also lost some people from our lives and had relationships change entirely as a result of the decision we made…and there was no way we could have predicted who these people were or what their response would be.
3. This will challenge you mentally and psychologically more than you can ever prepare for. Take all the counselling offered to you, ask for it if you feel you will need it, and speak up before it gets too much for you to deal with. The production companies have a duty of care but they don’t know what’s going on in your head. If you need it, ASK! If you don’t feel like you’re getting enough, push for more. Some of us are seeing counsellors and therapists beyond the show. It’s opened up wounds we never knew were there and issues we didn’t know we had. Just be prepared to have to deal with these.
4. Yes, the experts are well trained in their fields but they don’t know you, or your partner. At the time of writing this (January 2017), in America, the success rate of the show is around 25%. In Australia it’s 15% and in the UK it’s 0% (worldwide it’s 15%). No matter how well ‘matched’ you are, it’s not a tried and tested successful formula. You are taking a massive risk with your match. No matter how well screened participants are, there are things that just can’t be found out. In MAFS series across the world, men and women have turned out to be something totally different to how they first appeared.
5. Your deal breakers may not be listened to. One participant gave a single deal breaker, one gave 15, and both had partners who didn’t meet key deal breakers. There are things about your partner that the casting team and production company will have no way of knowing - be prepared to be very open minded with who your match may be.
6. You can’t control the public’s reaction. They will have opinions of you that are totally inaccurate, mean and painful to hear. Be ready to be criticised about ALL your actions. Every single one of us had nasty things said about us and our characters, including some very personal things.
7. Again, in case you forgot, this is a TV show. There will be a camera crew with you for most of the time and you will still need to live your own life alongside this. It’s intrusive, intense and pressured. For weeks, every time you ask a friend to go for a drink you will have to choose a venue where they allow the cameras, the friend will have to sign a consent form, and you will have to repeat parts of your conversation for the crew. There will be people you won’t see because they don’t want to be filmed. Also, remember that they need footage of every aspect of your life. You will be VERY busy and it’s incredibly intense to go through all of this with someone you barely know. (also...most of this footage won’t be used at all and you won’t have a say what is, or isn’t used).
8. At the end, the cameras will go, the crew will go, the production team will disappear. Everything that made up your life for months will very suddenly not be there anymore. Prepare yourself for this and that the life you go back to will not be the one you left.
9. Make sure you know yourself and know exactly what you want in a partner before doing this. You will be tested in so many ways…you absolutely have to stay true to yourself no matter what.
10. Don’t assume that you will definitely meet the love of your life through this because that will undoubtedly end up in shambles. In our opinion, most of the women go in with preconceived notions and most women are brought up to think and believe in fairy tales more so than men. The reality is that most men don’t wake up and say I want to marry a stranger and don’t share the some romantic view of it as women do.
11. This is a legal marriage. Be prepared that if it goes wrong, you will be divorced. At the moment (and for the foreseeable future) in the UK there is no such thing as a ‘no fault’ divorce, which exists in other countries. This means that one of you has to petition against the other and give examples of unreasonable behaviour which have to be deemed by a judge to be adequate enough to not ask you to keep trying to make it work. It’s not a nice process for either party (and is definitely not as nice as a party!).
So there it is... 11 things you should think about if you're planning on applying to tie the knot on national tv. We're by no means telling you not to do it; in fact it has been a defining point in all our lives. It just may not be what you're expecting...
MAFS participants from across the globe