'I spoke to the Married At First Sight producers about the one big change coming this season.'

Cancel your evening plans from Sunday to Wednesday, bid goodbye to your loved ones, and buy in bulk an array of soft cheeses and artisan crackers because guess what time it is? It's MAFS season, baby! 

Our calendars are about to become chained to when Married at First Sight is airing, our social media will be flooded by MAFS gossip and memes, and the office coffee machine will never be as busy as it is on the morning after a MAFS dinner party. 

I was lucky enough to preview the premiere and let me tell you: gird your goddamn loins. 

It's a real rollercoaster of a first episode, with plenty of drama (duh!) but also some truly hilarious and heart-wrenching moments.

I did cry. Twice. 

Watch the trailer for Married at First Sight. Post continues after video.

Video via Nine.

In a sneak peek of the season shared on 9Now, it sounds like there are some chaotic scenes to come. "I will literally ruin you," one bride says in a clip. In another teaser, a bride is heard saying "Did you hear one of the grooms... is gone." 

Oop! Runaway groom! Julia Roberts is shaking. 

And it appears like MAFS expert, John Aiken, asks one contestant to leave the experiment because of bad behaviour. "This story is shocking...I've heard some things that have repulsed me," John says in a commitment ceremony. 


"I'm going to cut to the chase. We need to just kick you out."

Ahead of next week's big premiere, I caught up with Aiken, along with the MAFS producers, to find out everything we can expect from season 11.

Endemol Shine Australia's Director of Content, Tara McWilliams, said that the new season will bring different storylines, emotions and relationship dynamics. "It's not bringing more or less drama than previously. It's not bringing more or less love than previously. It's just bringing a whole different bunch of storylines, which is the beauty of it." 

The producers have promised there will be plenty of twists and turns. "There are numerous occasions where you're either shocked at someone's behavior or shocked at something that's happened or shocked at what is said to the group or by someone," producer Alex Spurway teased. 

Unlike last year's season, it won't just be one person dominating the storylines. "It's constantly moving in different directions. It's not like Harrison [Boon] waving the red flag all last year," another producer Mollie Harwood added. 

Gone but sadly, never forgotten. Image: Nine. 


In excellent news, the series is making one big change for the new season: it will be platforming more older couples. 

Fans of the series will know that in most seasons, there's typically only one older couple cast which, due to the fact they're surrounded by 20-somethings, often comes across as tokenistic. 

Last year, it was Melissa Sheppard and Josh White (who were actually in their early 40s, sigh!) and earlier seasons featured some iconic older contestants like John Robertson, Meshel Karen and Steve Burley. 

It's worth noting that some seasons have featured zero contestants under the age of 40, which makes it extra exciting that this season has cast two couples (yes, TWO) who are thankfully... not 24-year-olds. 

"Yes, they are older but they're not all fuddy-duddy people," Harwood said. "They bring so much fun, joy, comedy, drama, you name it."


This season there's 51-year-old Andrea from Queensland, 62-year-old Richard from New South Wales, 43-year-old Lucinda from New South Wales, and 51-year-old Timothy from Victoria. 

Given the move to cast more diverse age ranges, I asked producers if this was an intentional choice, but they assured me they cast based on who applied. "We were just blessed with having some really wonderful people who applied, we're never going to say, 'there's only one older couple [each season]'," Spurway said. 

Richard was one application that "stood out," McWilliams added. "He is so young at heart and it's going to be fascinating to see a man navigate love at his age. What angle does he come in from it? How does he attack it? He was unbelievable." 

Lucinda will be another standout character this season with the self-described "earth mama" going to a bride who walks to the beat of her own drum.

"We've never met anyone like her," Spurway said. "I don't think we've ever seen anyone like her on Australian screens." 


The producers and Aiken added that due to some of the cast being older, they more readily hold the younger brides and grooms accountable for their actions. 

"That brings a different dynamic... the group holds each other to account and chaos ensues, essentially," Harwood says. 

The new season is expected to showcase the experts as their most scene-stealing selves, holding people accountable each week at the commitment ceremony.  

"The experts call people on bad behavior to a greater extent this year than previously. I think it's a reflection of how people just are now – people are much less tolerant of poor behavior in relationships," said executive producer John Walsh. 

"John (Aiken) doesn't let them get away with any poor behavior."  

While plenty of drama is imminent, can we expect some genuine love stories this year? When I asked the roundtable of MAFS producers if there was any pressure to produce a 'successful couple' this year, the room became noticeably tense. 


"Even though a relationship didn't last, it doesn't mean the relationship wasn't a success," McWilliams replied. 

I went on to mention the recent split between Tahnee Cook and Ollie Skelton, the last remaining 2023 couple formed in the experiment. 

"Our measure of success isn't just whether they stay together," Harwood clarified. "Have they learned anything about relationships? I would say 99% of time, yes, they have. There's a few people that probably didn't. And never will really. But overall, do they learn something about themselves? Absolutely."

McWilliams gave an example of a controversial MAFS pairing that didn't last beyond the final vows. "I look at Heidi [Latcham] and Mike [Gunner] who are one of my favorites. Because of whatever reason, they couldn't be together, but you saw at that reunion, how painful it was for them to come to that conclusion. They were absolutely successful [in their journeys]."

Overall, the new season might not deliver the perfect love story for every couple, but if it's anything like past seasons, it'll never be boring. 

"At the core of the whole show is the fairy tale: can two strangers fall in love?" Aiken said. 

"But outside of that, there's drama, twists and turns. We're all hopeful when it kicks off that we're going to get a lot of people falling in love. Sometimes that happens, other times it doesn't."

The premiere of Married at First Sight begins on January 29 at 7:30pm on Nine.

Feature image: Nine.