"I think this is going to go really well."

So says one of the hapless grooms at the combined stag do that launches the new season of Married at First Sight Australia this week.

It's a prediction that's made with great confidence and a healthy dose of delusion. Because nothing ever goes well on MAFS Australia. At last count, there was precisely one couple still together from five whole seasons of people marrying complete strangers.

A perfect pair (?). Photo / Supplied
A perfect pair (?). Photo / Supplied

Indeed, the only winners from the show have ever been the networks broadcasting it. The previous season, full of couple swapping and dinner party shouting matches, became Australia's most watched show of 2018, with viewers' jaws dropping on both sides of the Tasman.

Keen to recreate that ratings success, the makers of MAFS Australia have promised this year's series will ramp the drama up yet another few notches.

From a pool of 10,000 applicants hoping for love or a solid six to 12 months of Instagram influencing, producers and the show's three relationship "experts" have found 10 brides and 10 grooms to marry off, some of whom I refuse to believe are real people.

For example, there's Ines, who says, "One of my hobbies is just being in my bikinis." (Same girl, same.)

There's also 44-year-old Mike, who's that middle-aged guy who still chooses to stay in hostels when travelling and freely admits to hooking up with women half his age.

"[But] I'm exhausted by it. I cannot break another heart," he says with a straight face.

Mike and Heidi embracing on their wedding day. Photo / Supplied
Mike and Heidi embracing on their wedding day. Photo / Supplied

They're just two of the pawns in the MAFS Australia game, where we know there's less concern about love matches and more attention spent on creating explosive TV – and those motivations seem more pointed than ever this year.

As the relationship experts (who I wouldn't trust to choose me a sandwich, let alone a potential spouse) explained their reasons for pairing off the six couples we've seen thus far, it became obvious that pitfalls are ahead for many of the newlyweds.


Take, for example, Monday night's bride Melissa, a loud and excitable woman who slept in on the day of her wedding, didn't know how to get out of her apartment building and wasn't sure she had packed her wedding dress.

Who did the experts believe would be perfect husband material for this new television hero? Dino, a meditation facilitator whose wedding vows began with "Namaste. I bow to the divine in you."

Only mildly terrified, Melissa mused, "The experts have obviously put us together for a reason."

Oh, they sure have, Melissa.

Melissa and Dino having a dance on their wedding day. Photo / Supplied
Melissa and Dino having a dance on their wedding day. Photo / Supplied

But then came last night's episode where the matches and the situations felt just a little… unsettling.

Ning, a hairdresser and mum of three, was open with the experts about the abandonment issues she feels after being left first by her parents as a child, and then by the father of her children.

Her obvious self-sabotage on the day of her wedding as she spewed out a stream of mean-spirited jokes directed at her new husband, Mark, was painful to watch.

It also felt uncomfortable seeing radio announcer Heidi, a woman who said she's previously felt she "wasn't wanted anywhere" after a tough childhood in foster care, being paired with Mike of "I cannot break another heart" fame.

It all feels a bit uneasy that she's being set up with a man who appears too in love with himself to make room for anyone else. (And the promo for the upcoming episode suggests those fears are well-founded.)

I know nobody on the show has a gun being held to their head as they're forced to participate (or not that I've been able to confirm, anyway) but it does rather take the shine off your glorious trainwreck TV of choice when it's served up with a side of exploitation.

I have no doubt this season of MAFS Australia will deliver on its drama-tastic promises and up the ante on last year's enormous hit of a series. But with a whopping 44 episodes to get through this season, that feels like an awful lot of manipulated drama to digest.

Much like the MAFS brides and grooms themselves, it's a commitment I probably won't be able to bring myself to see through to the bitter end.

MAFS Australia screens 7pm Sundays and 7.30pm Monday-Wednesdays on Three