It was only a matter of time before someone took love-as-reality-TV-fodder to its natural conclusion: Complete strangers agreeing to legally marry the moment they first meet.
Heralded as an extreme social experiment, Married at First Sight enlists a team of experts — a sexologist, spiritualist, psychologist and sociologist — to evaluate a group of singles in order to determine which individuals will make the best romantic partners. The couples must then get married without ever having met and live together for a month before deciding if they will stay married or get a divorce.
They purport to have received "thousands of applicants" for the show. Of those they selected, most dropped out after learning they had to marry a total stranger, which left them with fifty singles. From that group, they found three ideal couples to force into marriage.
Now, personally, that's not enough people for me. It's just a random assortment of people—albeit, people who have agreed to the same bat shit plan as you—but still totally random. This leads me to my biggest problem with this so-called experiment. They repeatedly claim that this is no different from an arranged marriage. This is absolutely nothing like an arranged marriage.
To begin, it is 2014 in America. Arranged marriages are no longer common so there's no reason why we should be completely unfazed by this. Secondly, this isn't the strategic coming together of families for the purpose of building wealth and power. There's no real practical reason for these marriages aside from television ratings and advertising revenue.
Finally, an arranged marriage generally doesn't involve your family choosing someone they found walking down the street. The person would likely have some tie to your family already or be part of the same ethnic group or religion. And while romantic love may not always be the goal of an arranged marriage, it would at least be set up by a group of people who actually know the bride and groom intimately. I don't care how in-depth their personality quizzes were, I wouldn't trust a psychologist to know me better than my own parents.
Producers tried to keep us in some suspense about which individuals would be matched together, but it was pretty obvious: the black people together, the Christians together and the other two.
As the couples prepared for the weddings, their friends and family obviously looked at them like they were insane. A young woman named Courtney revealed that her family refused to attend the wedding because DUH. People who love you generally don't enjoy watching you make colossal mistakes with implications that could reverberate across your entire life.
On the day of the weddings, everyone looked completely horrified with their decision and more than one bride admitted that she was scared. Perhaps the most terrified bride was Jamie, who was, let's say, less than thrilled when she laid eyes on her future husband, Doug.
Jamie's reaction reveals yet another hole in this experiment: Physical attraction. She is obviously not attracted to the man she's standing with at the altar and is now thinking, "Holy shit, I still have to marry this guy."
Physical attraction isn't everything in a relationship, but of course it's a major factor. It's not that the person has to be Ryan Gosling (although, ideal) but he or she has to be attractive to you. It's hard to determine attraction without at least, ya know, laying eyes on the person.
So yeah, I'm not really buying this social experiment and forgive me if I don't predict a surge in arranged marriages. One thing I will give Married at First Sight: I'm now totally hooked because I have a feeling more than one of these marriages is going to go down in a spectacular flames.
Image via FYI Television