MAFS will never match the original reality TV show
MODERN life has become a contest for victimhood.
I'm more oppressed than you and I wear my grievances and resentment as a badge of honour.
And in the one arena we could rely on for a bit of light relief after work - our nightly bubblegum TV viewing - it's evident that reality programs are hell bent on making victimhood their prime time goal.
Married At First Sight may claim to be about love but ultimately its business model is using "regular" folks as foils for a parade of fat-shamers and bullies.
In the safe space of the show, strangers will advocate for the victims and reward them with thousands of social media likes. But life is not about being a victim. Life is about choice and dealing with consequences anonymously, without the quick hit of fame to make it all OK.
Isn't what we strive to teach our children?
Everyone knows you can't make an organic and authentic relationship in a petri dish whether it's MAFS, The Bachelorette or any other confected love set-up, where the experts are peripheral to the process. The minuscule number of successful MAFS relationships tells you all you need to know about the show's purported "experts".
And we only need look at the prototype for reality programming - the ABC's 1992 series Sylvania Waters - to see how far we've plummeted in our assessment of who really is a victim in society and who has signed away their dignity in a waiver.
Brassy Noelene Baker was the star of our first fly-on-the-wall show as she endlessly picked a fight with her gormless de facto Laurie Donaher.
"Strewth, Laurie, one of these bloody days I'm gonna pack my bags and get out of here", was the sort of gem the film crew installed for six months in their luxurious waterside home in Sydney's south would capture and broadcast to the world.
Now we have MAFS, where a grown man we're told is "bullied" into admitting he is a virgin for the dissection of a million plus viewers and a new bride with a normal body gets drawn into Fatgate.
During Sunday night's episode, the 26-year-old groom Sam bitchily critiqued his bride Elizabeth's appearance.
"I've never really dated girls as big as Elizabeth in the past, to be honest," he breezily told producers.
"Maybe I'll get her running in the mornings with me. Maybe drag her outta bed with me. I don't know. She'll be right. We'll get her going. She'll be fine."
Sam later claimed to be just an "honest guy, and that was the honest truth".
Social media eviscerated him.
Yes he was mean and vacuous - but that's the reality recipe now. And what's more, it made his wife a victim, which in both politics and reality TV is the new measure of saintliness.
Meanwhile Matthew Bennett, Australia's most famous virgin, happily admitted to never ever having sex, as unusual and curious that seemed to the rest of us.
"It's not religious - it's a personal choice," he soundbited to an interviewer. "And it's terrifying that I have to tell some stranger that I first meet that I'm a virgin."
What is more important in shy Matthew's story is that he was genuinely bullied as a teen and has battled self confidence ever since.
Noelene was blunt as she pioneered the My Way or The Highway approach to TV drama: "I can't be nice, I can't be Joan Collins" she said, all heavy kohl makeup and Farrah Fawcett flicks.
But she was never mean or manipulative.
Armed with her pack of Winnie Reds, our Noelene liked to regale viewers about how she snared her man and his dubious polyester wardrobe.
"I pretty damn sure from the time I first saw Laurie that he was the one I was going to go for and three weeks later we were living together," her husky tones revealed. "He had a boat on hire purchase and a car on hire purchase."
Their blended family talked over each other and blew up when a biro didn't work, for example.
The worst thing the kids had to deal with, what "really got up their nose", was when Noels and lover boy went out for the night and "took the knobs out of the TV".
(Note for younger readers: this was how we used to change the channel back then.)
But it was relatable and unscripted. If you "stuffed up" you "pulled your head in" and got on with it rather than made victimhood your epitaph.
Noelene famously confronted the show's director, Brian Hill, at the Edinburgh TV festival and accused him of stitching her up.
But the rest of us were under no such illusion - the show was entertainment not like today's offerings which are built around gouging people's insecurities and laying out the entrails of hope, heartbreak, cheating and humiliation for the carrion crow masses to feast upon.
Yes the editing definitely overdramatises situations, knowing the public will react if things are presented a certain way.
MAFS bride Ines Basic, 28, says she applied for the controversial reality series in hopes of finding a partner with which she could finally begin a family.
But she is furious that the show's "relationship experts" for pairing her with a former stripper Bronson Norrish's past: "This is purely disgusting to me, an ex-stripper is not supporting my future babies. I will never have a family with him!" she huffed on cue.
I wonder, would people still want to watch if they thought it wasn't "real"? Surely the millions gobbling MAFS and similar shows up aren't that gullible.
As for the 29-year-old virgin, he should have listened to his sister.
Matthew has more chance of winning lotto without a ticket than finding real genuine love. But hey, it might kick start a tidy five minutes of fame and immortal victimhood.