If you can’t stand the heat, don’t go on a reality TV show

The latest season of Married at First Sight has now finished (insert cry here) and of course we are once again seeing articles and statements from those who were on the show about the so-called miss treatment, alcohol enforcement, line feeding and editing that supposedly goes on behind the scenes.

From someone who has a personal and professional insight to these formats, I feel it’s my duty to set a few things straight.

The intent of the show

Many relationship and dating shows cop flack for editing or showing false perceptions of who someone is. Yes, editing can be done but you can’t change what someone says. Even if it seems sensationalised, there is always some truth behind it. These shows are a great form of entertainment and bring up a lot of important issues for us to be talking about. By having these shows on TV, it normalises certain topics and pushes them out in the mainstream. Some people have found love from being on TV and some relationships do survive. However, that is not the first intent of those who create these shows and the contestants need to understand that before putting their lives on screen. There is a duty of care and there is always psychologists attached. Real experts involved do have the intent to ensure the people on these shows are looked after to their best capacity.

But this is a TV show and not a counselling room. At the end of the day, the person in charge with the intent to make good TV will be calling the shots. If you expected counselling and therapy with only the intent to help you, keep it out of TV.

People are also on a show for a reason. It might be to find love, but these days you can find love without putting yourself on TV. If complaints are had about producers intent and treatment, then a contestant also needs to question why they went on a show in the first place and be honest if their only and original intent was for therapy and love too. There is plenty of help out there that isn’t in the eyes of others if that’s where someone doesn’t want to be.

They get fuelled with alcohol to cause drama

Over the years, past contestants on various reality shows will tell tales of being fed alcohol and kept up late to cause drama. That might be a tactic to get compelling TV but why not? When a camera comes in front of someone’s face, their personality alters and they become a shy version of themselves. This is reality TV, not a hosting gig. The producers want a somewhat natural environment and don’t want people holding back. Would it be the worst thing in the world if alcohol was offered to lower that “on” persona? In MAFS, especially when the boys had a bit to drink, the truth came out for some. We want to see reality not a scripted version as after all this is reality TV. Should the producers be blamed for a contestant showing a too real side? When alcohol is there, whether it’s supplied in abundance or not, it’s up to the individual to decide if and also how much to drink. As for being kept long hours during filming? The fact is that TV shows like this take a long time to film with days needing to be extended to all hours. It’s not a tactic necessarily but scheduling and fitting into times.

Being fed lines

Once again, contestant have a choice. Just like they have a choice as to how much to drink, they also have a choice as to what information comes from their mouth. A producer will feed lines to help a contestant say certain things in a sentence structure, that can be cut into the format of a show. Often people become camera shy while sitting there. A producer might need to ask the right questions about how they feel or help them to formulate sentences due to the nerves and word jumbling. But keep in mind this producer is also the person who has seen exactly what has been going on with their line of questioning and prompts for statements based on what that person has been saying and getting up to.

Take responsibility

When I hear claims from past contestants on shows like MAFS, I want to tell them to take responsibility for their own actions, including putting their lives on TV. We seem to live in a society that is so quick to blame the negatives in their life on everyone else instead of looking at what role they had in getting to that point and that perception.

If you are thinking about putting your relationships or dating life in a show like this, go for it. But understand why you are doing it, what your motivations are and what the intent of the show really is. Is the goal to find you love or fix your love or for us viewers to fall in love with the show and you?

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