It’s official – Married At First Sight fever, nay, addiction, has reached new heights.
In the past week I’ve spoken to my colleagues, friends, mother, partner and even my partner’s father about the Dean and Tracey debacle and the recent Nasser personality flip. These are not your usual reality TV addicts.
On Monday night, Nine’s reality TV dating experiment which sees two strangers matched up and ‘married’, was the most watched show on Australian television, with a national average audience of 1.811 million. It backed it up again last night, with an average audience of 1.728 million.
But still people are treating it like a guilty pleasure. A low brow addiction. A sugar hit of reality TV to be binged and then detoxed.
You see, Married At First Sight and Shakespeare have more in common than you might initially think. Hear us out.
Last summer, the UK was overtaken by an inexplicable Love Island addiction. Like MAFS, it’s a reality TV dating show that sees strangers paired up in the hopes of forming relationships. The twist? They’re all attractive people in bikinis in a tropical location. Oh, and there’s prize money for the winning couple.
In fact, it was so popular, Australia is doing its own version to air later this year.
In one of countless opinion pieces about the nation's obsession with the 'low brow' show, author and journalist Elizabeth Day made a very important point.
"They [the contestants] start talking, utterly sincerely, about wanting to find “the one” and “someone who gives me butterflies” and you realise that, ultimately, we are all engaged on this endless quest to be understood," Day wrote for Radio Times of Love Island, but it applies just as well to MAFS.
"It’s the kind of narrative that has obsessed us since time immemorial. It’s why we’re still riveted by the work of Jane Austen or Shakespeare: because we are all searching for someone who helps us make sense of ourselves."
You see, while the Bard is now regarded as a literary classic only appreciated by the educated, it wasn't always that way.
"Shakespeare, like ITV2 [the producers of Love Island], sought to entertain the masses, not highbrow, pretentious types," she added to The Mirror.
Yes, Married At First Sight (and The Bachelor and Love Island) is basically the modern day equivalent of Shakespeare. And maybe in a few hundred years, we'll regard it in the same way. (Look, probably not.)
Love Island also drew comparisons to Shakespeare thanks to its introduction of totally new words and phrases into the public vocabulary, like "muggy", to make a fool of someone, or finding "my type on paper".
MAFS is doing the same, to a slightly lesser extent, with phrases like "building solid foundations", partners "not having my back" and "commitment to this experiment" suddenly becoming normal and even, like, deep to use in real, everyday conversation about relationships.
No, it's not groundbreaking or world changing TV. But it is providing insight into something we can all relate to, acting as a conversation starter about what makes a good relationship, and yes, as light and sometimes ridiculous entertainment after a long day at work.
So when someone inevitably asks 'why do you watch that crap anyway?' simply respond: It's pretty much Shakespeare.
And if that doesn't work - don't stress. Because let's be honest, they're probably watching too.
Listen: The Twins debrief on Nasser's temper tantrum which we still don't quite understand.