And with the series entering its ninth season, experts Mel Schilling, John Aiken and Alessandra Rampolla admit that there are still times when they are left shocked by the behaviour of the contestants.
“Every season there’s a new set of themes that come up, and there are themes that emerge in the dynamic this year that we've never seen before,” Mel tells Yahoo Lifestyle in an exclusive chat.
“For example, things around race and around the way that social media and the digital world have weaved their way into the experiment to the point where they are inextricably linked. We can no longer pretend that social media and this experiment operate separately. They're very much connected and one impacts the other directly.”
It would be easy to believe after eight years and 72 pairings that the popular Channel Nine show could start to become repetitive, with viewers growing tired of similar storylines, characters and outrageous events happening year after year.
Yet when the trio of experts are asked how season nine compares to 2021’s explosive edition of the experiment, they reveal that the two are rather divergent.
“I think we’ve got a more problematic group dynamic that raises its ugly head and becomes very, very significant throughout the series,” John describes. “So you’ve really got to hold on tight for this because the group has a lot to say this series.”
“It's interesting how different the issues and the dynamics are simply getting a different group of people in there,” Alessandra adds. “The group dynamics are fire.”
This year’s season has already been labelled as the most “surprising, sexiest and wildest”, with a new trailer teasing plenty of tears, tantrums and a rather dramatic moment where the entire cast walks out during a commitment ceremony.
“You’ll see genuine shock on our faces. We didn’t see it coming,” Mel says about that particular scene.
The promo also features John telling contestants to “suck it up”, which he now explains is part of the experts’ “hard-hitting approach” to this year’s experiment.
“We just have to hold bad behaviour accountable, really. We have to really call it out and really shine a light on what they're doing wrong,” he details.
“We don't have a lot of time in this experiment, so we really have to get to the core of the issue fast. And that requires sometimes some very, very hard truths that we've got to get in between the eyes with.”
Mel also stresses the importance of respect and respectful communication within the experience, which is one of the highest principles for the brides and grooms.
“When we see examples of that not working, it's so critical that we can address that straight away,” she continues.
“Because when those sorts of behaviours are not nipped in the bud they can become habits, so it's great that we have this opportunity to actually step in, to call it out, to tease it out a little bit so that the participants have an opportunity to understand what they're doing and maybe why they're doing it, but also to put them on a new track”.
Alessandra adds: “I think that's where a big part of the value of having us there observing and being able to have that perspective and pointing it out to them and help them have better tools to reach the goal that they have, which is to build this relationship and give love a go.”
Before this year’s season of MAFS kicks off and undoubtedly sparks plenty of conversations and opinions around the country, the experts each share one word to sum up what viewers can expect.
“I would say fire,” Alessandra responds. “Fuego, fuego, fuego. It’s fiery.”
“Confronting,” Mel replies, followed by John who says, “Fractious. It’s pretty unfriendly in there”.
Married At First Sight S9 starts Monday January 31 at 7.30pm on Channel 9
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