Flat White

Married at First Sight and the unkindness of strangers

16 February 2019

2:21 PM

16 February 2019

2:21 PM

Critics ask, ‘why MAFS’ – and it is certainly a polarising topic.

This take, for example: ‘Fucking hard hitting journalism right here’.

And, ‘Stupid shit for stupid people.’

Of course they are right – the American version of Married at First Sight is much better – and to be fair one of these commenters did correctly identify last week’s MAFS piece as Walkley Award material.

Not that I am averse to criticism. Recently my short story was accepted – then rejected – by the most frightened editor in Australia. He described it as revolting and said he didn’t know how to not, not publish it.

Clearly he was onto something. And it got me thinking of the marketing campaign for when eventually Melbourne University Press pick up the option on this cultural reject as a powerful three-page pamphlet alongside Sally McManus’s guide to breaking and entry and Mick Gatto’s elegant witticisms on the lifestyles of the rich and Toorak.

Here’s the front page blurb: ‘the story they were too scared to publish – and then didn’t.’

But enough about me. Existentialist and country-pop hybrid intellectual Taylor Swift once observed, ‘haters gonna hate’ but the unasked question when it comes to MAFS is why?


After all, things are hotting up with Hot Sam taking it to another level or at least another hotel floor with Ines by visiting her room having not had a haircut for the second week running. He remains the best looking husband on the show and walking proof that the medium is the message given his messages are inarticulate, foppish and giggly. If only he couldn’t talk. Talking is his tragedy, his fatal flaw, his wreck of the Titanic.

Given the sado-masochistic nature of their relationship he and Ines have come up with a safe word, ‘cupcake’ and they use it at the group dinner so they can escape the room for a chat on the couch to talk about how much Ines hates Bronson and how Hot Sam can say, ‘umm, yeah, right’.

Bronson remains the most sympathetic and set-upon of the husbands. A pole dancing man mountain marital gimp to Ines’ dominating leatherette personality. He maintains a banal stoicism reminiscent of namesake Charles Bronson probably in his masterpiece Death Wish III though I may actually mean Death Wish IV, which is the better one because there are more guns.

(Charles Bronson is the Meryl Streep of Vengeance movies and could tell Liam Neeson a lot about keeping your mouth shut when talking about black people on television.)

As revealed last week, Matt the Virgin is no longer a virgin and so has to retool his brand. He struggles with what he describes as Lauren’s ‘appetites’ as she is a veritable sexual bain marie having told Matt and other couples who weren’t able to get away quick enough that she is into swinging and swapping and being roughly thrown on the doona as Matt madly Googles what these things are she is referring too.

Lauren has also told Matt that she used to be a lesbian but I don’t think this is a thing anymore. Matthew looks like he needs to borrow Sam and Ines’s safe word and can’t say cupcake often enough.

All the other MAFS partners seem to be struggling and this week’s commitment ceremony looks like it could be very sad and very cinema verite and very boring. Like an award winning foreign language movie or something Australian made with a Film Australia grant.

But this also reminds me of why we all watch MAFS and why the critics are wrong – it’s because we have nothing better to do.

Its like the sonic brilliance of Iggy Pop’s song I’m Bored and his famous insight into why we all do stuff : ‘All right doll-face. Come on and bore me.’

And before all those nasty online critics start up again;

Cupcake.

Michael Scammell is a freelance writer.

Illustration: 9Honey screencapture.

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