When we watched Ines’ first reaction to Bronson, her expert-selected stranger husband, on Married At First Sight, we thought we knew where this was going. We thought, ‘there’s the villain for this season, the nasty one, the one Australia will love to hate.’
But since that first proclamation – “When he smiled, I first wanted to punch him in the jaw” – we’ve ended up in a place few could have predicted.
We’ve seen the legal assistant scream in the poor man’s face when he took her parasailing on their honeymoon, yelling at him to “shut the f*** up”, over and over. Because, well, she didn’t like being on a boat.
This kind of toxic behaviour is unprecedented for the Channel 9 program, and has well and truly united viewers against Ines. While reality TV villains are typically fodder for sassy memes/GIFs, her outbursts have sparked conversations in comments sections and news headlines about bullying and domestic abuse.
But do we have her all wrong?
In an interview with news.com.au, MAFS’ matchmaking experts have suggested that viewers may not be getting the full picture with Ines, that her intentions may not be as venomous as we’re led to believe.
Need to debrief on MAFS? The Twins have got you covered. (Post continues below.)
“I think if you watch her closely you can see, it’s almost like she has remorse after she makes a really harsh comment,” said Mel Schilling. “I haven’t asked her this, but it’s almost like she is saying to herself, ‘Oh, it’s too late, I’ve gone down this road and I have to keep going’, so I don’t think she is as harsh as people are perceiving, but that’s what they are seeing.”
John Aiken agreed. “When I spoke to her, what I saw is a woman who has come from a pretty traumatic upbringing from war-torn Bosnia, so you have walls up and she’s very resilient, very independent.”
Of course, it is highly likely that Ines’ behaviour stems from something deeper than will ever be examined on a shamelessly trashy primetime TV program. Because as Schilling said herself, we’re only “seeing” what producers/editors show us. But what we’ve been shown is… unsettling, and shouldn’t be so easily dismissed nor ignored.
In fact, the program – well, Schilling specifically – has been openly targeted for failing to properly address Ines’ behaviour. A Change.org petition was circulated calling for her sacking after she chastised Bronson for describing his fake wife as “a c***”, but let Ines’ abusive tirade go unchecked.
Instead, it’s been left to viewers to recognise this toxic behaviour and to call it out. And the fact that they have, quickly and loudly, is at least one positive we can take away from this whole mess.