Married At First Sight

Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson’s season of Married At First Sight cleared of breach over ‘abuse’ complaints

The most complained-about season in MAFS history.

By Maddison Leach
Channel Nine's reality TV ratings hit Married At First Sight has been cleared by a media watchdog over claims of "gaslighting" in its latest eighth season.
An investigation by the Australian Communications and Media Authority (ACMA) has found that the show did not breach the Commercial Television Code of Practice, despite an influx of complaints.
The investigation surrounded three episodes of MAFS that aired in March this year, all of them starring controversial couple Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson.
Issues cropped up when some viewers claimed that the relationship between the couple, as portrayed on TV, was "abusive" and showed signs of "gaslighting" behaviour.
Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson met on Married At First Sight. (Nine)
The show faced backlash and criticism at the time, with many viewers criticising the show's relationship "experts" for not calling out what many deemed abusive behaviour.
Other critics took aim at the Nine network and sent in more than 50 formal complaints about the show, specifically the three episodes that have since been assessed by ACMA.
Two of the episodes had a PG classification, while the third was rated M, but ACMA ruled that none of them breached the code of practice.
A spokesperson said that the content in each episode was covered by the respective classifications and that the M-rated episode, which included adult themes, was "handled with care".
As for Bryce and Melissa, the couple continued their relationship after the show and recently welcomed twin boys named Levi and Tate.
The pair are also engaged, with Melissa telling New Idea in July: "It's been a whirlwind, but we're so incredibly happy."
Both Bryce and Melissa maintain that there is nothing "abusive" about their relationship, however that didn't stop criticism when their season aired.
Earlier this year, Nine defended the program and apologised to viewers who complained about any of the contestants or relationships depicted in the season.
However, the network denied that any episodes breached broadcast standards, despite Bryce and Melissa's season receiving the most complaints in the show's history.
"A significant proportion of the complaints alleged the program included personally abusive interchanges between participants through gaslighting, social, verbal and mental abuse and that the program perpetuated and promoted the theme of domestic abuse," an ACMA spokesperson previously said, via the Daily Mail.
It's important to note that ACMA was not tasked with investigating whether Bryce and Melissa's relationship was abusive or if Nine had failed its duty of care towards any of the MAFS participants.
The watchdog was only required to assess whether the episodes in question had breached the Commercial Television Code of Practice.

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