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MAFS producers call out contestants blaming the edit: 'Can't put words in their mouth'

"One thing that this experiment does is that it holds a mirror up to yourself."

Married At First Sight is about to kick off its 11th season, with the new series being touted as the "most polarising" yet.

While there have already been rumours of walk-outs and scandals, MAFS 2024 is set to push the limits on everything viewers think they know about the series so far - and will also include a more age-diverse cast and a same-sex couple.

After 11 seasons of addictive television, it's safe to say the producers and showrunners behind MAFS know exactly what they're doing to hook audiences in.

Over the years, as the show has gained popularity and as audiences have met some polarising cast members, the contestants have also had to deal with relentless post-show trolling online, with many blaming the show and the edit for how they've been portrayed to the Australian public.

Yahoo Lifestyle spoke to the brains behind the hit reality series, including Endemol Shine Director of Content Tara McWilliams and Executive Producers Alex Spurway and Mollie Harwood, about what happens behind the scenes and why they think some contestants don't "own" their edit.

MAFS cast 2019 and MAFS cast 2021
MAFS has had a chokehold on Australian audiences for years. Photo: Nine

'It holds a mirror up'

"I think one thing that this experiment does is that it holds a mirror up to yourself," MAFS producer Alex told us. "So when you finally watch that back, sometimes people can get a shock as to how they thought they may have behaved compared to how they actually have behaved."

"We can't make them do what they didn't actually do," MAFS producer Mollie added. "We can't force people to say things, we can't put words in their mouths. Like, if they said it, they said it, if they did it, they did it."

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Tara McWilliams, the brains behind turning MAFS into the huge success it is now, said she can understand how difficult it would be for contestants to have to reckon with owning their behaviour.

"I imagine it's very hard for them to sit down and watch, especially months later. It'd be very difficult to reflect on that and to take ownership of it, because what we essentially really ask them to take ownership," she said.

'The edit is a safe excuse'

When it comes to participants who come out and blame the edit after watching the show back, Tara said it was an excuse easy to fall back on.

"Instead of [owning their behaviour] the alternative is that the edit is a very safe excuse. The biggest gripe they seem to have is, 'OK I was an a**hole in that moment, but what about all the other times I was nice?' and we would counter that with, 'Well you were still an a**hole in that moment'. We can't show every moment of everyone, but we try and show as much as we can, because people aren't one-dimensional."

The MAFS 2020 cast
The MAFS 2020 cast. Photo: Nine

Tara also said audiences can be harsh on contestants because everyone tends to remember the bad moments or bad behaviour over the good sides of someone.

"It's human nature, we always remember the bad stuff, we always remember the controversial stuff... we do that in our own lives, and the audience is no different," she explained.

"We warn them, before we start shooting the show, you're going to be an a**hole, the Australian audience is gonna see you being an a**hole and you're going to be judged on that.

"And they may say 'You made my partner look like the good one and I'm the bad one', and it's like that's how we all saw it: we were shooting it, we were editing it, and we were giving them advice. That's how everyone else saw it, it was everyone else's reality but yours."

'The public is brutal'

Tara also wanted to acknowledge the difficulties contestants face when it comes to public backlash and the bravery participants exhibit by putting their hands up for the show in the first place.

"I want to acknowledge that would be very difficult, and that's part of why we have such robust support in place to handle to the best of their ability that criticism," she said.

"The public is brutal and they're brutal about anyone in the public space. We're in an age where anyone on social media gets caned for what they do. So I take my hat off to anyone and to all the participants who have put their hand up and said, 'I'll be a part of this.' It's very brave to do that."

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