With illicit thrills and the power to numb, Married at First Sight Australia was made for lockdown – all 101 episodes of it. If you've had a month-long power cut, allow me to explain the premise. Three ‘Love Experts’ match thirteen couples using a formula that is referred to as ‘the science’. Couples then meet at a quasi-wedding ceremony, go on honeymoon, meet each other's friends and families properly in their hometowns, before deciding at a final commitment ceremony, whether to stay married or go their separate ways. The process is peppered with a number of fiery dinner parties during which couples' dynamics, intimacy and compatibility are scrutinised by the rest of the group. Wine flows, eyes meet and rumours swirl. There are clandestine intercouple meetings in the corridors and scandalous snogs in the courtyard.
Quickly back to the compatibility though, because the concept seems to elude this season all but entirely. So what is ‘the science’? Well, according to what we see, which we can presume is the extent of it, it goes something like: person A likes their mum a lot and person B wants to be a mum, so off we go, it’s a match! Or, person C has trust issues and person D says that even though they’ve thought about cheating, they’ve never actually done it. There we have it, another match!
In the morally complex landscape of the show, we are free to dive into the thorny psychologies of contestants bad and evil. Delighting and disgusting us, without further ado, may we present, the show's villainous Hall of Fame.
Susie is a hot 25-year-old blonde, who's matched with Billy Vincent, a beta male whose hot and heavy tears stream like a power shower. Given her late arrival to the show (a plot twist by producers), it’s impressive that she’s snagged the top spot, especially when someone like Ines exists. Her dogged and cold campaign to emasculate Billy is almost unbearable to watch, telling him he's creepy, too small, and has got no balls. The face she makes when looking at him is like that of someone who’s been forced to eat vomit.
That said, her villainy waxes and wanes – duplicitous duality is prime baddie behaviour. She tells Billy that his naked body (seen in a photograph, not IRL) is “not the worst she’s ever seen” (an enormous compliment by her standards) and that she bought Cabernet Sauvignon knowing it was his favourite. But feigning niceness is just an opportunity to sink her claws in some more.
Poor Billy can't do right for doing wrong. Between showering her in compliments and telling her he will make her as many coffees as she wants for the rest of her life, his face annoys her, something that's not only intimated but explicitly said. A brutal and unrelenting tour de force, her mere presence intimidates him, and it’s unfortunate that he couldn't quite get his words out when it mattered the most. For his parting shot, that beauty is only skin deep and that hers will one day fade was salient and worthy, but hampered by nervous stutters and an ina-billy-ty to get his words out, it lost its punch. And, with a look of a predictable smugness, didn't she just know it.
A series of Innes-heavy storylines cast her as the show’s ascendant villain. The one you want to don a foam finger for and below ‘BOOOO!’ at the telly towards. Unlike Susie, she never pretends to be nice. As she tells us often, she’s not here to make friends, evident in that she pays no heed to Girl Code, going behind Elizabeth Sobinoff's back to hook up with her hunk of a horrible husband Sam Ball. In fact, she pretty much ignores every moral code going, including that of her own matrimony. Bronson, an ex-stripper with a tragic past and an eyebrow ring never stood a chance. “I don’t know anyone with an eyebrow ring, except for lesbians who work at McDonalds’ drive-thru,” she remarks (horrendously). Her sexual frankness – like that of a bricklayer from Burnley – redeems her somewhat as she is, if nothing else, honest. How did she feel on her wedding day? “Like… horny.” What does she want to do to Sam? “Root him.” But ultimately it’s her lack of redemption that earns her this place, her monologues less regretful and more: ‘yeah, I shagged a married man, what’s your point?’
Cyrell’s brother Ivan decided in the car on the way to the wedding that he was going to make his sister’s soon-to-be husband’s life a misery. It didn’t matter whether he was as dashing as Clooney, as kind as Hanks or as moneyed as Musk. "Let's cut the bulls**t. What are ya after?" Ivan grunted when he took Nic Jovanovic, an indisputably nice guy, aside. On hearing that Nic had struggled to find love because he’d been sick, Ivan mocked: "You know what? Cyrell, I'm sick, I gotta go my way now.” Oft, this is awkward. If only it was a common cold and not testicular cancer.
Nic is a harried hero, because not only does he put up with a woman who has the temperament of a rottweiler, he vehemently rejects the advances of Jess (discussed below), and says nothing of it. Ivan will forever be known as the performatively protective, belligerent and overbearing wrong ’un who lured Nic to the basketball court with the promise of a game, only to tell him to do one.
Jess isn’t the kind of girl who cheats. In fact, she’s never cheated – except for the time she kissed Dan Webb behind her husband Mick Gould’s back. "It weighs on me mentally," she says through inflated lips, with a tiny violin perched atop her shoulder. That her surname is Power speaks to the broader problem of her being, in that she obtains and wields power with reckless abandon. Not that she’d have you believe that. For too long she’s put others before herself, she villainsplains, which is why in this instance, she’s doing something so out of character as to cheat. Her selflessness has led her here, guys! A critical darling villain that we simply couldn’t be without.
When Matt wasn’t polishing his halo he was busy being a virgin and affectionately calling his attractive, affable and patient wife Lauren Huntriss, Loz. When he first told her that he was a virgin, Loz was seemingly unfazed, instead supportive and kind. When his lack of sexual experience (and the prospect of having to do it) manifested in physical pain, Loz waited with him in the hospital. When they did do it, Loz let him control the narrative, relaying the news to the rest of the group. So when he decided not only to tell, but to hammer home to the group, in earshot of Loz, that he no longer found her attractive, it was a betrayal of epic proportions.
Images | @mafs