Married At First Sight

EXCLUSIVE: MAFS experts reveal just how much power producers really have and spill on what to expect from season nine

''It’s a very polarising show.''

By Alana Mazzoni
Just when we think Married at First Sight couldn't shock, entertain or bemuse us any more than it already has, a new season is announced and the rollercoaster starts again.
After just one look at the explosive season nine trailer, we know we're in for yet another treat when the controversial reality show premieres next week.
In an exclusive chat with Now To Love, experts Mel Schilling, John Aitken and Alessandra Rampolla set the record straight on those frequently asked questions from if they really pick out all the couples to if the show is scripted plus, which MAFS moments still floor them to this day.
Experts Mel Schilling, John Aitken and Alessandra Rampolla have exclusively opened up to Now To Love on producer involvement. (Nine)
Even casual viewers of MAFS would know that the franchise dishes out more shocking and chaotic moments than perhaps any other reality show - and it's not just the audience who audibly gasps at what plays out on screen.
After being involved in nine seasons of the experiment, Mel reveals her most shocking experience was the criticism she received after calling out Bronson Norrish for calling his wife Ines Basic a "c—t."
"That's probably resulted in the biggest backlash against me so that was very shocking. It's not what we expected," she says."Even the producers were saying 'this is going to be a great moment for women because you're calling out a man's behaviour'. But of course I didn't know what was going on behind the scenes."
Mel's most shocking incident was the backlash she received from calling out Bronson Norrish in 2019. (Nine)
As fans will remember, Mel called out Bronson at a season six commitment ceremony, telling him: "A tip from me to you: Don't use language like that if you want any chance of a relationship."
But unbeknownst to Mel, Bronson's remarks over Ines came after he reached his breaking point following a barrage of abuse from Ines.
A petition was subsequently set up, with 60,000 people calling for Mel to be sacked and claiming she "displayed sexism."
Meanwhile, John teases that an incident on the upcoming season, which airs next Monday, is an "all-time shocker".
When asked the age-old question of if the show is scripted, the experts also shut down the common assertion.
"Do you think we could script this stuff?!" Mel laughs. "We get this line every year. That is one of the very common responses. It's a very polarising show.
"People have strong reactions to the show and I think when people watch something playing out on screen and it's confronting or triggering them or reminding them of perhaps their own relationship then it's a very natural response to push away and to criticise."
"Do you think we could script this stuff?!" (Nine)
Mel also slams rumours that the MAFS producers don't allow the contestants to walk away from the show if they want.
"They all have choice. We're not holding anyone captive!" she says adamantly.
"When people come out of the experiment and they see themselves on tele and perhaps don't like what they see it's very natural for them to become defensive and to look for ways to explain away their behaviour and that's one of them. We've heard it all!"
Mel (right) says MAFS producers don't allow the contestants to walk away from the show if they want. (Nine)
When it comes to how much say the producers have in pairing couples, Mel reveals "it's a really collaborative process."
"We will have a say and we bring all that information together and we make a decision on the whole," she says.
"You've got the three of us bringing in our own assessments and our own specialities but then we have the producers involved as well in terms of what's going to work for the experiment."
Sexologist Alessandra, who joined the experts last season, adds: "We certainly discuss, talk about pros and cons. I think it's rare when everybody 100 per cent [agrees]. But it's certainly a consensus."
John said he wasn't surprised to see Martha and Michael's relationship last in the real world. (Nine)
When it comes to MAFS couples from seasons past whose relationships have thrived in the real world, the experts say they're equal parts unsurprised and chuffed.
John says Michael Brunelli and Martha Kalifatidis' recent engagement, two years after meeting on the show, didn't come as a shock to him.
"Martha and Michael were a strong match right from the word go. [They're a] very glamorous, Hollywood sort of couple. Different cultures but strong family values. Both of them are ridiculously good looking so it all kind of worked well," he says.
"They had their own approach to the experiment and they took their loyalty from the experiment and brought it into the real world. And they've just gone from strength to strength. I'm not surprised because at the end of the day the experiment can work for people."

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