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Is Married At First Sight Australia Sexist? Fans Are Noticing One Common Theme

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Is Married At First Sight Australia Sexist? Fans Are Noticing One Common Theme

Married At First Sight Australia is blessing UK screens at the moment, bringing a welcome dose of high-stakes entertainment to the mundanity of lockdown life.

It's not hard to see why people are hooked; season 6 is a certified drama-fest. Recent highlights include Ines and Jess embarking on full-blown affairs, Melissa having a teary on-screen meltdown, and Cyrell almost landing herself in a physical fight with a fellow contestant.

So far, so entertaining, right? Sure, except all of these incidents have one common denominator: a 'crazy' woman at their centre.

Is it tactical, clever casting, unfortunate editing or good old-fashioned sexism? Perhaps it's the fact that the show's panel of 'experts' seem all too ready to admonish the women's behaviour while barely mentioning their husband's indiscretions.

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People claim the show's exerts are bias (Credit: Channel Nine)
People claim the show's exerts are bias (Credit: Channel Nine)

"MAFS Australia - the show where a panel of experts tell women it's definitely their fault," one fan tweeted this week, after watching the latest drama unfold on the reality show.

While another wrote: "Is it me or are the experts harder on the women's behaviour than the men's?"

"Why are they constantly attacking the women in this show and not the pig-headed, gas lighting douchebag men!? #MAFSAustralia," a third said.

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One particular incident which really riled viewers up was the experts' treatment of Heidi - and it's not hard to see why.

In a recent episode, we see Mike telling his wife that "maybe [he] could try falling in love" with her, eventually.

As you can imagine, this charming statement isn't quite the sonnet she is after, and it subsequently affects Heidi for the rest of the week.

Experts accused Heidi of 'sabotaging' her relationship (Credit: Channel Nine)
Experts accused Heidi of 'sabotaging' her relationship (Credit: Channel Nine)
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But when it comes to the 'commitment ceremony' (the TV equivalent of marriage counselling), the experts - John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Dr Trisha Stratford - tell her, in no uncertain terms, that it's completely on her to fix things if she wants the marriage to work.

The trio even convince her to backtrack on all her reservations about Mike's behaviour and concede to being a "yappy b*tch", who speaks up when she shouldn't.

"Do you feel like you're walking on eggshells?," Dr Trisha asks Mike, after hearing of their altercation.

Meanwhile, John accuses a crestfallen Heidi of deliberately "sabotaging" the relationship.

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A similar pattern has been observed with other contestants, too; take Tamara, who is literally being cheated on by husbands Dan when the experts accuse her of putting a "wall up" and question why she is "scared to get hurt".

Similarly, after Ning is upset with Mark's exceptionally uptight attitude during a personal training session, the experts ask: "Ning, do you feel that this fear of being left is blocking you from connecting with Mark?"

"You have to take control of this situation and step up," they later warn her, without any heed towards the issues she has with his behaviour.

Ning was later told it was up to her to change (Credit: Channel Nine)
Ning was later told it was up to her to change (Credit: Channel Nine)
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Of course, some of the women's actions are impossible to defend (take Jess and Ines' affairs, for one; Susie's instant disdain for husband Billy, or Cyrell's aggressive behaviour towards husband Nic and fellow bride Martha).

But even incidents like these beg the question, have producers deliberately cherrypicked troubled women who they know will deliver drama to proceedings? Or worse, are they simply following a script?

Stars like Ines have all but confirmed this since leaving the show. "We are puppets filming a TV show for your entertainment," she told fans on Instagram. "I'm sorry to disappoint. I know a lot of you are really crazy MAFS fans, and they think it is actually fully real.

"You're playing a character and it is a lot to carry that character. It is a little bit draining."

Ines claims she was made to look 'remorseless' (Credit: Channel Nine)
Ines claims she was made to look 'remorseless' (Credit: Channel Nine)

Providing some insight into why she deliberately pursued a relationship with someone else's husband, Ines has since confessed she was "suicidal" at the time of filming, after encountering a string of personal tragedies.

She added that producers deliberately cut out footage in which her husband Bronson said he liked open relationships and group sex - something which put her off him from the get-go.

"I look so remorseless and like I don't care," she said in a recent interview with The Sun. "But Bronson was into open relationships... and sharing women... They just didn't air that part. I was like, that's such a crucial part to miss out."

Fellow contestant Susie has also claimed she came across unfairly on the show, stating on social media that she was "cast as the villain," and that her husband Billy had called her "ugly" off camera, and flirted with other women.

Meanwhile, Jess alleges that producers "urged her to string Mick along" during filming, despite no longer wishing to be with him.

"[Producers] had already seen my personality and they knew that it was going to make a good show," she said on Isolation TV.

Jess hinted her romance with Dan was pre-planned (Credit: Channel Nine)
Jess hinted her romance with Dan was pre-planned (Credit: Channel Nine)

Suggesting that even her affair with Dan was choreographed, Jess added that they instructed her to "do everything in her power to keep [husband Mick] there because we have something bigger set up for later on".

Cyrell's 'villainous' persona is another to consider. She's spoken extensively on the show about her attachment issues, and how broken she was before her marriage, having been cheated on by a previous fiancé.

"I had a lot of repressed anger [during filming]," she's reflects during the reunion show.

Which begs the question, was an emotionally gruelling social experiment where she was dubbed 'Cyclone Cyrell' going to end any other way? And did her outbursts really come as a shock to producers?

Tyla has contacted MAFS for comment.

Cyrell's anger was a key storyline on the show (Credit: Channel Nine)
Cyrell's anger was a key storyline on the show (Credit: Channel Nine)

It seems the problem is, 'crazy' women sell - and it's not just the incredibly successful Married At First Sight which proves this.

On Love Is Blind, Jessica Batten was annihilated for the way she treated her husband, Mark Cuevas, even though she later admitted she was struggling with her drinking, and even alleged that he cheated on her during filming.

Meanwhile, on Love Island, Maura Higgins was initially slated and slut shamed for vying for Tommy Fury, while the viewing public didn't so much as bat an eyelid at his temptation to stray.

The sad truth is that these examples really are just needles in a haystack.

Whether you blame producers, contestants or the general public, there's no denying that reality TV has a problem when it comes to characterising its female stars.

And it looks like we're not the only ones who are growing tired of it.

Featured Image Credit: Channel Nine

Topics: married at first sight, Married At First Sight Australia, TV Entertainment

Joanna Freedman
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