I spent much of last night’s episode of Married At First Sight with my hands in front of my face. (If you missed it, check out our recap here.)
Oh, the drama! The awkwardness! The intensity! If it wasn’t Alene’s hard-ass girlfriend grilling Simon at dinner, it was slimy Anthony laying the brat routine on Nadia hard and fast. I mean, really – who are these people?
But the prize for the most unbearable character surely must go to Cheryl’s buffoon of a father, Hamish.
I found myself gasping in shock every time Hamish spoke. If he had been a fictional character on a soap opera, I might have giggled at him hamming up the ‘protective father’ role. It could have been comical. But no, Hamish Maitland is very real, and not funny in the slightest.
For those who didn’t catch last night’s episode, the meeting of Cheryl’s father and her new husband Andrew was a (black) comedy of errors. The was no grace period of fake smiles or small talk - oh no, Hamish was on a mission to upset Andrew from the minute he arrived.
Before Andrew had even stepped inside the front door, Hamish was like a bull out of the gates, mocking Andrew’s height, then laughing at the size of his hands. Stunned, Andrew tried to laugh off the stabs.
When he did finally make it down the hallway of Hamish’s House Of Horrors, the real abuse begun. Andrew was offensive in every way to a clearly agitated Hamish: he was too short, too underdressed, not her type. He didn’t drink enough. He wasn’t good enough. He was “nothing” to Hamish.
In a moment that surely had people around Australia yelling at their television screens, Hamish even ordered Andrew out of the house to change his outfit - a t-shirt and shorts - despite being in exactly the same getup himself. Not jokingly, either: he literally picked up Andrew’s drink, moved it away, and said “Get out.”
Was he drunk? He seemed to be throwing back beers and whiskies at a rate of knots. Did it matter? No. That kind of persistent aggression is never alright, drunk or not.
This is not behaving like a protective father, as Hamish would have you believe. This is just a bully of a man who is thoroughly enjoying his power to belittle and humiliate another man in his home.
The narrative of ‘protecting women’ through the attacking of other men is not new. Women have often found themselves as an excuse for violence, aggression, anger. The concept of “I only punched him because he was looking at my girlfriend” has been around for as long as men have walked the earth. Love, protection, and loyalty of a woman are all great reasons to have a swing, right? It’s chivalry. It’s sweet. It shows you love them.
But as we saw with Hamish Maitland’s ugly display last night, bloke attacking bloke in the name of love - be it for a daughter, a wife, a girlfriend, or a mother - does not justify their behaviour. A kinder man would have welcomed Andrew into his home, and taken the time to get to know him.
Perhaps then, Hamish would have heard about Andrew’s career as a firefighter. How he works as a music teacher. That he loves to surf, and thinks Cheryl is the bee’s knees. But Hamish didn’t hear any of that because he was too bloody busy intimidating Andrew in the most appalling fashion possible.
I mean, really: Andrew is a 38-year-old man who was forced to walk out of somebody’s home and change his clothes, just to appease an older man’s rising fury. He did so because he wanted to do the right thing by Cheryl - who was clearly mortified - and to keep the peace.
And whilst that must have been humiliating to do so, it left no doubt in my mind that Andrew was the better bloke. You might be taller and louder, Hamish; but Andrew runs rings around you in terms of what it is to be a man.
Lay off the beers, Hamish, and consider what kind of example you’re setting your young sons.