Next Monday, 20 excited brides and grooms will start their quest for love in front of a TV audience of millions when Married at First Sight returns on January 28.
But, previous participants Nasser Sultan and Melissa Walsh – neither of whom found lasting love on the show – exclusively tell OK! the new cast are in for a shock on the set of the juggernaut hit.
The final straw for Melissa was earlier this month, when the cast of 2018 were blocked from the official MAFS Instagram account. "We earned them so much money," Melissa claims. "This has pushed me too far."
Nasser says he was shocked at how "scripted" the show was.
"The boys' night drama [when Dean asked which brides the grooms would swap with] was totally created by producers," Nasser tells. "They came in and screamed at us that we were all being "too boring".
That's when Dean asked the partner swap question at the end of a very long night of filming. It all kicked off from there.'
Is Melissa surprised? No. But she decided to remain tight-lipped about it, until now.
"I wasn't shocked that we were manipulated. I wasn't shocked that they had a story in mind for everybody before we even got there," Melissa says, adding that it's the contestants' treatment after filming wrapped that's hurt her most. "I'm not naïve in any shape or form, but this is like a real kick in the guts."
The idea that the couples are 'scientifically' matched by experts John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Dr Trisha Stratford is laughable, tells Nasser, 51.
"We barely spent any time with the experts anyway, but I think couples are deliberately mismatched for the drama," says the Sydneysider, who was married to single mum Gabrielle [Bartlett] last season.
"I get that it makes for good TV, but some – not all – but some of us were there to find love. Everything I asked for in a partner and everything JoJo [McPharlin] asked for wasn't what we got – at all. That's no coincidence."
Nasser now claims that, since appearing on the reality show, his love-life is ruined as "women only approach me now to abuse me or to ask for a selfie".
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"Once the final episode airs, you never hear from anyone from MAFS ever again," tells Melissa, 54, who wed single dad John Robertson.
"You're dumped. That's fine. I had a wonderful life to go back to, but for some that could come as a huge shock. It does feel like you're dead to them. I've been nothing but supportive of the show, both as a participant and afterwards, and so I was very shocked when we were blocked from their social media. I don't think that was necessary. It was an overreaction and a power trip. It seems like it's a case of "thank you, next."'
"When we were filming there were a few things that went on that were questionable," Melissa admits, "but I'd signed a contract so I had to be prepared for what was going to go down. I did go to a lawyer and I did discover that they did basically own you for 12 months. I don't understand the reasoning."
Plus, Melissa adds, "We were told that we had to be on social media… We got sent things and posted them on our accounts. We played along, and I've done that the whole time."
While Nasser claims Nine promised the cast care, assistance and help with dealing with the media, Dean Wells, 41, alleged on social media, "We're still under contract mind you, and Channel Nine has barely even spoken to any of us since the show ended to see how it affected our lives. But yeah, no worries."
For more Married at First Sight 2019 gossip and exclusives, pick up a copy of this week's OK! magazine.
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