Like the three couples on A&E's Married at First Sight, viewers have to make a quick judgment about the wacky premise and whether to commit. But while it takes a little bit of time for the pairs to decide their future, I was hooked from the first "I do."
There's no downplaying it. The idea that six people would be matched via four experts and then meet for the first time at the end of the wedding aisle is insane. But let's face it. One guy narrowing down a field of 25 women and proposing at the end of a few weeks or 20 people stranded on a deserted island competing for $1 million dollar isn't so realistic either. Their respective premises might hook you in - or in this case shock you - but it's the contestants on each of these reality shows that keep you watching.
On Season 1 of Married at First Sight, it was evident early on that what FYI Network called "an experiment" was more like a docu-series following the aftermath of two strangers meeting, marrying, moving in together and ultimately deciding if they'd stay together or get divorced. There wasJamie and Doug, who had the most awkward of the three weddings, especially when Jamie cried the entire time, wondering what she had done and how she could ever be attracted to Doug, who, by the way, turned out to be a great guy with an even greater sense of humor.Cortney and Jason immediately bonded over their respective lack of family at the wedding. While they were the youngest pair and were smitten with each other early on, they had to face maybe the hardest struggles. Monet and Vaughn immediately hit it off, especially on the wedding night, but their chemistry was purely sexual and the two seemed pretty unhappy together. But regardless of the outcomes - which turned out to be more successful than not - it was fascinating to watch the pairs either fall in love or at least try to make it work. There were no gimmicks, no prizes - just a simple premise with an even simpler ending.
As the series returns on Tuesday (9/8c), now on A&E, here are more reasons why I fell in love with Married at First Sight.
1. There's a science to it.
These matches were not made haphazardly. Four experts - sexologist Logan Levkoff, psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona, spiritual advisor Greg Epstein and sociologist Dr. Pepper Schwartz - spent hours and hours working on this. First, there was a questionnaire with roughly 300 questions. Then, five separate formal psychological assessments are administered to all the applicants by Cilona, who told us that for Season 2, these yielded more than 3,800 pages of data for the final potential participants, and it took him more than 400 hours to analyze and come up with recommendations for matches. Full psychological assessments are done (a prerequisite for any reality series), as well home visits and meetings with family and friends.
2. No one denies the craziness of it all.
The experts, and certainly the cast, admit how bananas the idea is and that they were hesitant to jump in. Until Levkoff watched the original Danish series and naturally got hooked, she wanted no part. Cilona, who took the authenticity very seriously, mandated that the experts would have the final say in the three matches and not the network or producers. The couples all admit throughout (as do their friends) how crazy they were to take part and were even more shocked by the end, when they wondered: How the heck did this actually work? (See below.)
3. It worked.
Spoiler alert: The first season was extremely successful! By the end, Jamie and Doug, and Jason and Cortney chose to stay together. They've already hit the one-year anniversary point, with some of it documented on a spin-off, making the show's success rate higher than that of a lot of other dating reality shows. Even Monet and Vaughn, who divorced in the end, don't consider themselves a complete failure - and neither do the experts. Taking the tremendous amount of lessons and info they learned about themselves, the two have said that they have no regrets in taking the leap of faith.
4. You want to root for them.
Of course, there's the added drama built up in the editing, and sure, there were tense moments along the way, but you wanted them to get through it. Maybe Vaughn and Monet were a bit of a lost cause (they even argued over Sunday brunch!), but watching Doug so patiently wait for Jamie to develop feelings, finally having their first kiss, or Jason and Cortney's goofy sense of humor and how much they were a team from the get-go, it was easy to find yourself rooting for their happily ever afters.
5. It's hopeful.
It's overwhelming how many ways you can try to meet people nowadays, but if these couples took a chance walking down the aisle with a stranger, then that online date for coffee doesn't seem so nerve-wracking, right? Add in the fact that it mostly worked in the craziest of circumstances gives hope to singles that you too can find someone - and you probably won't have to go on TV to do it.
The Married at First casting special airs on Tuesday at 8/7c on A&E, followed by the Season 2 premiere.
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