It’s long been requested by reality TV fans that The Bachelor franchise cast an older leading man or woman, with former star Abbie Chatfield even recently petitioning for her own mother to be the next Bachelorette at the age of 61.
Now, Married At First Sight expert and confidence coach Mel Schilling has joined in on the call for a mature-aged lead as she believes it would definitely work.
“There have been times in the past on MAFS where we've had older people who were 50+ and they've had an incredible level of support from Australia,” she tells Yahoo Lifestyle.
“Certainly in the UK we've started experimenting with that as well and people love it, because our audience isn't just the younger group, it’s a much broader group.
“Let's get an older Bachelor or Bachelorette, absolutely! Let’s get a few grey hairs in there, it’s sexy!”
Mel’s comments come as eharmony has released new research revealing that two in three singles aged over 35 mistakenly believe that they are ‘too old’ to find love.
Speaking about the shock statistics, Mel says she feels rather disheartened that a large group of people have such a defeatist attitude towards dating.
“I feel sad, but then I feel kind of optimistic because I think it's actually factually wrong, so there is something that we can do about it,” she remarks.
“This is an opportunity to educate and to change people's thinking when it comes to dating later in life.”
As someone who met her husband on eharmony just before she turned 40, Mel believes that dating when you are older can actually be a positive experience because you have a clear idea of what you do and don’t want in a relationship.
“You’ve got so much more self-knowledge, more innate confidence and more to offer a relationship,” she explains.
“You’ve got all this experience to draw on and you've learnt lessons, so you can just shift your focus and get really laser-focused on what you do want and not waste your time on the people who are wrong for you.”
Another key finding from eharmony’s recent study reveals that 85% of single parents see childcare as a roadblock to dating, which Mel thinks is simply “an excuse”.
“It’s a way of putting another barrier in front of yourself between yourself and love, and I have a great solution for that which is to start a dating club,” she says.
Essentially, a dating club works where you get together with a group of people and rotate looking after each other’s kids while you each go out on a date.
“It’s such a great way to boost confidence because you're all in it together and it stops that cycle of getting really hard on yourself if you can straight away connect with your little dating club and debrief,” Mel continues.
“Even a dating club for people without kids can work. What I love is the safety factor so all of those friends in your club know where you are.”
On top of writing a new book and working with clients as a dating and relationship expert, Mel is currently wrapping up filming on season nine of Married At First Sight - which has already begun to be a controversial season.
“What I can say is it's yet another season of wonderful love stories and an incredibly fascinating social dynamic,” she teases.
While similar reality shows have recently dimmed in the ratings, with both The Bachelor and The Bachelorette receiving record-low audience numbers in 2021, Mel says that there is a major point of difference when it comes to MAFS.
“The thing that all those other programmes don't have is the experts,” she details. “We have that added layer where we get to unpack and offer advice and hold the mirror up to people and make them accountable.
“That doesn’t happen on other shows, so often I think it's people sitting at home on the couch, screaming at the TV, giving them advice and telling them what they should do. And I guess watching MAFS you get to see us in many ways be that voice of the audience.”
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