Reality TV

Is Married At First Sight real or fake? Former contestants weigh in on producer-driven drama

The reality behind reality TV.
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Married At First Sight is arguably the most explosive show on Australian television, and year after year delivers catfights, cheating scandals and wine-throwing galore.

But despite the premise of MAFS being about singles looking for the love of their life in the country’s “biggest social experiment”, fans often question whether the show is as genuine as it claims to be.

Is it real or a whole lot of baloney?


First up, the marriages are not legally binding.

Despite the illusion that it’s their big day, the couple’s wedding ceremonies are all for show as the Australian Marriage Act orders couples to notify the court one month and one day ahead of tying the knot.

“Each participant embarked on a commitment ceremony with a wedding celebrant with all due intention to commit fully to this union for the duration of the experiment,” a Nine Network rep confirmed.

“At the end of the experiment, they are given the option to continue with the relationship or go their separate ways.”

And seeing as many couples split after or even during the show, can you imagine the amount of paperwork Channel Nine would have to churn through?

Thank goodness these two weren’t bound together in holy matrimony.


As for the contestants, they’re real, although not all of them apply for the show.

Former MAFS grooms Jono Pitman and Ryan Gallagher were both headhunted for the series, the former of whom was hit-up at a Sunday footy game.

“I said no, but took the producer’s card. Then they called me when I was at the pub and was convinced it was a good idea!” Jono told TV WEEK.

Dino and Jessika even appeared on an ad together before MAFS aired!


However, there are rumours that producers hire a sprinkling of actors to help amp up the drama.

“… I wonder how many paid actors they’ve hired this year? I know most were actors in our season. I can’t believe it hasn’t come out yet,” former groom Telv Williams wrote on Instagram when discussing the 2019 cast.

Some of the 2019 cast, including disaster couple Billy Vincent and Susie Bradley, along with Mike Gunner, Sam Ball and Dino Hira, were revealed to have backgrounds in acting, while Jessika Power and Melissa Lucarelli had modelling experience.

Nothing is scripted, but producers work their magic in the editing room.


The following year, eagle-eyed fans noticed that contestants including Amanda Micallef, Vanessa Romito, Mikey Pembroke and Cathy Evans had dabbled in acting with the latter even having a performing arts degree.

“I’m not going to deny that I did a performing arts degree but that was a degree should lead on to drama teaching,” she told Now To Love in 2020, adding: “I was thinking of being the next Mr G from Summer Heights High!”

“There’s no shame for me to admit that I completed a degree but I can definitely say I haven’t been an actor in Australia ever. It’s a career choice I made so long ago as a teenager that when I became an adult and developed into a young woman after I finished the degree, I realised this is probably something I don’t want to do.”

Even controversial 2021 groom Bryce Ruthven had a stint on Home and Awayand we have the pics to prove it!

The different door numbers editing fail made people think Sam and Ines’s affair was a ploy by producers.


As for the burning question about whether the show is scripted, many have denied those claims.

“For all of those that are saying it’s scripted I can tell you that not once did anyone say to me that ‘hey you need to say this or that’ ever. Everything I said was from me in that moment,” season eight groom Russell Duance penned on Instagram, who was swiftly backed up by co-stars Sam Carraro and Brett Helling.

Other past contestants have revealed that producers play a big part in what’s said, and that participants are made to repeat their lines until the producers are happy with how it sounds.

“They’re always fishing for one-liners,” Jono explained.

“My famous line was, ‘She wasn’t what I ordered’ when my partner, Clare, was walking down the aisle.

“They got me to say it a thousand different times.”

And don’t even get us started on the editing fails of 2019 that made us really doubt the validity of the whole show.

“I was edited as a villain because I didn’t want to sleep with my wife who happened to wear a wig,” Nasser Sultan revealed.


Season five groom Nasser Sultan also confessed in an open letter to future contestants that even if you thought filming went well, it never turns out how you expect it, and that you can be easily painted as a villain.

“I was edited as a villain because I didn’t want to sleep with my wife who happened to wear a wig. She didn’t want to sleep with me either, but that magical edit made it seem like she was longing for little Nass to make a cameo,” he wrote.

“They’re clever… You’re probably in the midst of being manipulated right now and have no idea.”

Dean Wells confessed that the house for his home stay was an Airbnb.


The situations aren’t the only things that are fake though – even the ‘home visits’ are a bit of a stretch.

Fans were left scratching their heads when bride Susie visited Billy’s luxurious beach home. For a 28-year-old barista to own a home in Byron Bay, that’s a stretch for sure.

Even former groom Dean Wells took to Instagram to voice his disbelief at the situation, writing: “No offence to Billy, but how does a 28-year-old barista live in a mansion in Byron?”

He even added a detail about his own season, saying: “The house for my home stay was an Airbnb, as at my real home I had a flatmate that didn’t want to be filmed.”

Tracey Jewel revealed producers “play with your emotions” by making stars “sit alone and think about everything for hours”.


One former contestant even wrote a book about what goes on behind the scenes.

2018 star Sean Thomsen released his tell-all memoir Married Lies…Secrets Behind Reality TV that detailed his time on MAFS and said that the hardest thing about it was “having the expectations of getting treated a certain way.”

“They can’t really edit it badly if you go in there with the right intentions and then realising how manipulated and storyboarded the whole thing is,” he told NW.

Wonder what will happen next season…

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2018 bride Tracey Jewel previously revealed that producers “play with your emotions” by making stars “sit alone and think about everything for hours”.

For dinner party scenes, she said they had to “rock up at noon and sit in a tent until 4pm on your own and you have all these emotions bubbling to the surface and seething before you walk in”.

It’s no wonder that some of the show’s most intense arguments happened during dinner parties. Who can forget the time Martha dumped an entire glass of wine over Cyrell’s head?

What’s more, during the commitment ceremonies, 2018 groom Nasser explained that if someone wanted to go but the producers were interested in keeping them, they’d “take you into a private room and convince you that you need to stay”.

Let’s see what happens this season…

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