Married At First Sight producer spills all

Here's how it REALLY works.

TV WEEK spoke to a producer on the controversial reality dating show Married At First Sight to get the lowdown on what exactly goes on behind the scenes. Here’s what she had to say…

How did you want to mix things up for season four?

We absolutely wanted it to be bigger and a little bit noisier. The initial thought was to make it bigger we had to give it big “reality beats” – which are things like the weekly dinner party. It was one of the most loved parts of the previous seasons so we thought, great; we’ll do it every week.

Another important part was bringing the couples together, so they actually interact with each other. That will bring a whole new dynamic to the show and generate more content and make the experience a little bit different. Our whole thought process behind that was about creating a support network.

How do you choose the contestants? Do you look for someone open and honest?

Yes, absolutely. It’s like any show; you want people who are genuine about what’s on offer. You want people who genuinely want to find love. That feel they have exhausted all avenues. Most importantly they are willing to put their emotions out there.

When Michael came along I remember it clear as day. What you see is exactly what it is. There is no funny editing with that audition.

What was most shocking wasn’t the list. It was the honesty. Because we’ve all got a list, we just don’t all walk into a room and tell people. Or we might say, there are a few things I want in a guy, but we won’t say all of them because it makes you sound shallow. Or you’re worried about how you will be perceived.

As a producer, of course I’m going, “Brilliant! Someone so honest!” That’s all you ask for when you are casting shows – honesty – the good, the bad, the ugly. So that’s what I loved about Michael. That’s what made him pop.

How do you respond to the viewer’s criticism when you pair together couples that live in separate states?

That’s obviously a discussion we had with the experts. The fundamental question we kept coming back to is what is going to give us the greatest chance of matching people and having long-lasting relationships with those matches? And we kept coming back to accuracy.

Removing the geographical restrictions broadens the playing field giving everyone a better chance to find more solid matches. Obviously, the flip side is that it’s hard to maintain a long-distance relationship. But at the end of the day, what we thought would prevail is the fact that the connection is so strong, that it will outweigh the complications of a long distance relationship.

What do the dinner parties bring out throughout the season?

Throughout the week they are pretty busy wrapped up in their own relationships and getting to know each other. So really this is the one time that all 20 people come together and talk about the week that was.

As a producer, what I love about the dinner parties is that I can just sit back and watch the action. Everything you see in the dinner party – these conversations happened organically. We don’t have a hand in generating it. It comes back to this amazing cast. They succumbed to the process, they dropped their guard. They forgot that the cameras were there and they’re just in it.

Sometimes unexpected guests just show up…

In episode one, there was an awkward confrontation with an ex’s sister at Jonno and Cheryl’s wedding. How did that unfold?

We don’t know all of the guests. We know the main family and friends that are close to them. So the next thing we know this girl is going up to Cheryl’s table!

As it unfolded we realised that it seemed this girl had feelings for Jonno, which is an interesting dynamic at a wedding!

What was most fascinating was how Jonno and Cheryl handled it. It brought them together, because they were a slow burner. Out of all the chaos and craziness that guest generated – they found some common ground which was – we’re actually the calm people, we’re likeminded in this room, we should step back from it and concentrate on us. That’s when they started to get along.

How involved are the producers in the process?

There’s sometimes a misconception, I think, that things are so contrived, but I cannot stress enough that these weddings were literally sit back and watch it play out.

You are taking a risk being a program maker to trust what’s going to play out, play out – and that’s what you’ve got. Weddings are full of emotion. You don’t need to do anything to heighten anything.

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