reality tv

'Why must you know my exact weight?' A recap of what it's really like to apply for Married at First Sight.

To catch up on all the MAFS 2022 recaps and gossip, visit our MAFS hub page.

As I recently sat in front of my television and watched an angry Texan man tell the nation that yeah, he's slept with no fewer than 350 women (in multiple continents), one question resounded loudly in my head.

How (and where, but also why) do they find these people? 

How does one... apply? How do they get... approved? And why are they always... like this tho.

Are you real?  It continues to baffle me that on every season of Married At First Sight, Channel Nine manage to find roughly 16 to 20 new participants who:

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a) want to get fake married on the television for no reason, 

b) are open to being humiliated - physically, psychologically, and spiritually, 

c) have absolutely no pressing commitments for 4 to 5 months, and 

d) are weird enough (will you throw a fruit bowl? Stick a toothbrush in a toilet? Engage in an entirely manufactured cheating scandal?) to break ratings records.

It's honestly really impressive. And that's why Married At First Sight has won multiple Emmys (note: Married At First Sight has not and will never win an Emmy). 

Surprisingly, this is not award-winning television.  

In order to better understand HOW THE F*CK THEY FIND THESE PEOPLE, I decided to apply for MAFS season 10. Do they have my email now? Yes. Will they probably call me with earnest interest because I answered the questions pretending to be Mr 'I've slept with 350 women' Andrew? Definitely. 

Here's exactly what happened. 

I open the application and feel like Channel Nine... knows. Suddenly, my phone starts ringing with a private number and I'm certain it's John Aiken, yelling that he's seen me click the link and yes, they'll have me on the show. 

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But no. It's my Pop, and he needs help with his phone and Sir why is your number on private but also I don't have time for this. I'm extremely busy. 

'POP PLS THIS IS AN EMERGENCY.' 

The application opens with the following information, which I have edited for clarity. 

Married At First Sight is searching for men and women of all ages mostly in their 20s (unless you want to be portrayed as desperate lol) who are genuinely committed to finding love being in the Daily Mail and/or growing their Instagram following.

It continues:

This ground breaking social experiment uses science and psychology producers' detailed knowledge of what will work on television to help Australian singles meet their perfect partner a person who will ultimately break them, emotionally. But there’s a catch… you won’t get to meet your future (fake) husband or wife until your wedding day!

Cool. 

Applicants are reminded that this is not a competition, and that while there are no cash prizes, you could walk away with the most valuable prize of all... true love.

Omg how embarrassing. 

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Okay but like... that's not going to happen. Participants are far more likely to walk away with damaged self-esteem, a problematic public profile, and weird vendettas with other reality TV stars. 

Before I proceed to the next step, I see a disclaimer: 

PLEASE SUBMIT GENUINE APPLICATIONS ONLY. 

Oops.

The initial questions are relatively harmless, although they could in no way be used to effectively match you with a possible romantic partner. The application asks: 

What are some of the challenges you have faced on your search for true love?

How would your friends describe you? 

List three things about yourself that are interesting or unexpected.

And... yeah. I answered the questions the way I imagine Andrew answered them. Given his behaviour on the show. 

Just being honest. 

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Bizarrely, in the earliest phase of the application, potential participants are asked for their height and weight and WHY.

HOW DOES THAT IMPACT WHETHER YOU CHOOSE ME FOR A SOCIAL EXPERIMENT ABOUT FINDING LOVE, CHANNEL NINE? 

YOU ALSO MISSED THE 'T' AT THE END OF THE WORD HEIGHT AND YEAH I'VE BECOME PETTY.

Huh? 

But then I realise.

It's obvious. 

They'd like you to be very, very accurate about your height because they're going to need to match a woman who specifies that she likes tall men with a man who is particularly short. And they'd like to get that match out of the way early. So they have more time to analyse possible personality clashes and incompatible values. 

The application then asks some basic questions about who you are and whether you have any fun facts you'd like to highlight that might work for the trailer of the next season.

Not 300. Not 325. 350.  

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Then, it moves to what you're looking for in a potential partner. This is easy for Andrew.

'She's a narcissist.' 

Interestingly, the application specifically asks for links to potential participants' social media accounts. Of course, this makes sense, but it also contradicts a story that came out about the current season of the show. 

During filming for season 9, a groom was removed after producers apparently 'discovered' his misogynistic, racist and homophobic TikTok videos.

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It's been reported that his bride, Jessica Seracino (who was then matched with another groom), found the account and alerted producers, who acted immediately. But HOLD ON.

Wait a second. 

They definitely knew about his TikTok and that's why they cast him. 

Problematic people make great grooms? In that they behave badly? The only complication is when it becomes obvious that they were cast because they were problematic, in which case the 'authenticity' of the show falls apart.

But the producers definitely... always know. 

The application then moves on to former relationships, and previous experiences looking for love. Also known as: r u desperate and can we exploit that?

'I've tried a few things.' 

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Potential participants are also asked whether they've applied for any other reality TV shows (okay but why do I feel like the answer is always yes), before the process quickly take a different turn. 

There are three questions about whether you're technically a criminal. Like, under the law. Specifically, there's a question about whether you've ever been subject to an intervention or apprehended violence order and dear god pls tell me anyone who clicks yes is immediately excluded. 

'Are you bankrupt?' the application then asks. 'Can we do a police check? Will you let us do that?' But then we get back to the important stuff.

The gossip. 

Is there anything about yourself that you’d be worried to tell your future partner? 

And, relatedly:

Is there anything else significant you think we should know about you? 

Idk if you've heard. 

Finally, applicants are asked to submit a RECENT photo, as well as, separately, a 'full body' photo. 

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Because. Compatibility, you see. It's based on... body size. And shape. So.

Applicants then submit a one minute video describing themselves and sharing their motivation for applying for the show. For example, my name is Andrew, I'm Texan and I want to go on the TV to tell Australia about how I've slept with 350 women and, by comparison, this one right here isn't that good. In case you were wondering. 

(No one was wondering).

Given that this season of Married at First Sight has somewhat done away with the illusion that science was in any way involved in matching the couples, it seems this online application is quite significant in determining who gets on the show and who they're paired with. 

Which is a worry. Because people lie, such as me. 

Andrew, pls. 

We also know that the show directly approaches certain contestants, perhaps because they don't get enough 'quality' applications. 

It remains a mystery how Married At First Sight manages to find a fresh batch of contestants every year. 

But I'll be waiting by the phone for my call from John Aiken. 

For more MAFS commentary from Clare Stephens, you can follow her on Instagram or TikTok

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