For Laura Brodnik and Tiffany Dunk, co-hosts of Mamamia’s TV podcast The Binge, this season of Married at First Sight has struck an unexpected chord.
Listen to Laura Brodnik explain to Tiffany Dunk why Married at First Sight has become all too real for her on The Binge.
“To start from the beginning, I had to watch Married at First Sight for work and I was writing down all the jokes and hilarious stuff that I usually write when you’re trying to recap a show,” Laura Brodnik expalined.
“And there’s the runaway bride, and the woman who was really angry because she ordered a Polynesian husband and didn’t get one.
“And then as I was watching it, I started to feel really sad and anxious.”
Brodnik said she was confronted by the stark difference between the male and female participants on the first night, before they were matched with their experimental partners.
As the men joked about having a bucks night, shared stories of prior relationships and sarcastically wished each other luck, the discussions among the women were not quite so lighthearted.
There were women who cried, devastated they might never have a family.
Women who had been single for six years, wondering if there was something irreconcilably wrong with them. There was Sharon, whose fiancee left her a year ago, and Vanessa who thought it would have all happened by now.
“I really connected with them, and that’s never happened to me watching women on reality TV shows before. There are so many people, but women especially, who feel like this. Who feel like they will never find somebody and have a family. It just hit me because so many of these women are around my age ,”Brodnik said.
For the men, it was “a little blip…”, if it didn’t work out for them, “… they’re in their 30s and 40s and that was fine. There’s no feeling like the clock is ticking.”
But for women, it was as though it was their last chance, and there was a feeling of absolute desperation.
"And for the first time ever," Brodnik said, "I was like, 'I just turned 30. Should I be worried about this?'"
"It made me question every life choice I've ever had, and made me feel really bad about myself..."
There is a sense that the women who have signed up for the show have been "left on the shelf" - and are one bad experience from missing out on a part of their lives they might have always hoped for.
The way we view relationships for men and women is critically different. For men - it's all a bit of fun. A nice addition. Something you can find at 30, or 40, or 50.
But for women, there is such a seemingly small window, and if things don't go to plan, the dream of a family can feel like it's evaporating.
Listening to Brodnik speak, Dunk responded "I actually feel like I want to cry..."
Dunk hypothesised that the feeling of impatience is perhaps more prevalent this season, given that the participants are slightly older than the last.
"There is a time in your life where you do go, wow, I am running out of time," said Dunk.
"There's only... our bodies will only make babies for so long... It's really common for women to one day go; am I ever going to meet someone? Am I going to have a family? Am I going to find love? Am I going to get married and have that security?"
Perhaps the reason Married at First Sight has attracted such a sizeable and loyal audience, has more to do with it's exploration of very real anxieties and tensions, than the hyperbolic drama.
At times, it's confronting and heartbreaking. The women in particular allow themselves to be completely vulnerable, putting everything on the line in hopes of finding the person they're going to spend the rest of their lives with.
As funny and as fascinating as the show may be, we mustn't forget that at it's heart are real people - living out their victories or tragedies with real life consequences.
For at least two women, Brodnik and Dunk, this series has hit just a little close to home.
You can listen to the full episode of The Binge, here.
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