In its entire 10-season run, I have watched only a single Married at First Sight episode, and admittedly, that was only to appease an ex-girlfriend. However, in this regard I am very much in the minority, as evidenced by the dominance of its 2024 premier. Tuesday night’s episode reached close to 2.5m Aussies, comfortably beating out competition from Seven’s Australian Idol (1.7) and Ten’s Survivor (1.1) to top the ratings.
Yet, looking past the buzz and gossip from the show’s colorful personalities, a significant part of the discourse surrounding the show is that it may have finally gone too far. Fans were left with a sour taste in their mouths after controversial and, at times, overtly deplorable acts of sexism. Teasers for future episodes only promise to delve deeper into the villains the show is eager to showcase on our screens.
Given the immense popularity of MAFS, it is no surprise that brands want to be present at a time when they know we will be paying attention. However, if the trend continues, Nine’s drama-fueled reality magnum opus may end up adding too much fuel to its own fire. It has taken only one episode for critics to make immediate calls for the show’s cancellation. If questions start being asked about whether the backlash goes beyond manufactured controversy, things could get messy for the jewel in the trashy TV crown.
Undoubtedly, people will watch (because who doesn’t love a bit of mindless bread and circus?), but as media buyers, our alignment with anything we can’t ensure will be brand safe or may have a negative association with consumers will always be met with a big question mark.
So, for now, while MAFS is an undeniable reach-magnet, the question arises: how far is too far? If next year’s season has to be even more explosive, where is the point of no return?