How do Married at First Sight ‘experts’ get it so wrong?
THE words 'social experiment' and 'marriage' shouldn't go together.
Unless it's the CSIRO talking about the mating rituals of some endangered bug species, they just shouldn't. Ever. Not even for reality television.
And yet, just that is happening once more for the fifth season of Married at First Sight. There are brides and grooms aplenty, disgruntled families by the dozen, a truckload of tulle, and so many views as to what makes for a good marriage.
Some participants think it's a submissive woman. Others think it's a man who can express his emotions and reproduce. Almost none can work out why they're are still single or explain their decision to use national television as their preferred carriage in finding 'The One' over say, Tinder or a bar or a thinly veiled barbecue with friends that has been entirely orchestrated to set you up with a friend of a friend.
And so here they are, telling us viewers at home that they believe in the powers of relationship expert John Aiken, neuropsychotherapist Dr Trisha Stratford and dating and relationship expert Mel Schilling.
Having collectively spent decades helping people find their special someone and hold onto them, you'd think this show should be smooth sailing.
But of the 46 individuals that have, to date, been matched by the expert trio, just two are still together.
One couple out of 23.
That's not exactly a glowing strike rate, is it? Which begs the question if they're really experts at all.
For anyone who has missed previous seasons of the show, the experts spend a large part of the early episodes having conversations about which woman liked the smell of a particular man's dirty, sweat-stained T-shirt and why their opposite lifestyles and opposing philosophies on just about everything could actually mean they're perfect for one another.
They watch on as the weddings and honeymoons take place, throwing in some hodgepodge commentary that provides next to no information and keeps you guessing.
Later on in the show they watch the infamous dinner parties in which the couples meet one another and provide wistful commentary to why the men are sinking beers and chortling in one corner of the room while the women inhale white wine and say, "yeah" to one another a lot.
It is only when these clearly ill-matched trainwrecks are living together and weighing up the pros and cons of manslaughter charges that the experts reappear once more, this time coming face-to-face with their Frankenstein creations in therapy form.
The couples who hate each other are encouraged to verbalise their feelings until one of them storms off and tearfully admits to the camera that they just can't spend another minute in the presence of their carefully selected mate, while the couples who feel love/lust/whatever you want to call the by-product of two weeks of steady drinking together are given a gold star, a pat on the back and sent back to their bedrooms to be filmed some more.
Interestingly, the experts never really reflect on their own matchmaking abilities at the end of a season or consider why it is that as matchmakers, they keep failing at their one single job.
This time around there are no fewer than 11 couples in the mix - more than ever before. There are single parents, hopeless romantics, aggressive alpha males and a returning star from Season 4.
So have the experts upped their game come Season 5? Only time and television will tell, but if their success rate is anything to go by, the odds aren't good, even if you do have a good feeling in your waters.
Katy Hall is a writer and producer at RendezView. Email her at email@example.com or connect via Twitter @katyhallway.