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Is Married At First Sight Australia real or fake? Experts and contestants weigh in

"Do you think we could script this stuff?"
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It’s the age-old question: just how real is reality TV? When it comes to shows like Married At First Sight Australia, many fans have been left wondering whether the wine-throwing and wife-swapping chaos is manufactured or not.

WATCH: Married At First Sight Australia | First Look

After season nine blew fans out of the water with scandals including a couple-swap“glassing” incident and nude photo scandal, we’ve been taking a deeper look at the controversial “experiment.”

And who better to weigh in on how real this reality TV show is than the very experts and contestants that have experienced it themselves.

In June 2022 former bride and season nine “villain” Olivia Frazer said she went on the show because of a “gut feeling” but was left “broken” by the insane filming schedule. When asked by a fan how long it takes to film a single commitment ceremony, Olivia said shoots often went for 10 hours.

“You film from like 6pm until 4am. It’s hell. Especially if you are told to sit on the ottomans and not the couches,” she revealed. She claimed the long hours were designed to “break” contestants, as are many other tactics used by producers.

But not all of the former MAFS brides and grooms agree with her – keep reading to see what they said about MAFS being real or fake.

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Olivia Frazer and Jackson Lonie during one of the season nine commitment ceremonies. (Credit: Nine)

Is Married At First Sight Scripted?

One of the ultimate questions that arises each season, is whether or not Married At First Sight is scripted. 

“For all of those that are saying it’s scripted, I can tell you that not once did anyone say to me that ‘hey you need to say this or that’ ever. Everything I said was from me in that moment,” season eight groom Russell Duance said on Instagram. His post was backed up by co-stars Sam Carraro and Brett Helling.

Sam Carraro also doubled down on the fact that the show wasn’t scripted. “100 per cent not staged, 100 per cent not scripted,” he recently shared on Fifi, Fev & Nick. Whilst “everything is real,” he did admit the show was “heavily manipulated” and “heavily edited.”

However, other stars including Jono Pitman have spoken out about being probed for specific answers by production. 

“They’re always fishing for one-liners,” Jono claimed after his appearance on the show in 2016.

“My famous line was, ‘She wasn’t what I ordered’ when my partner, Clare, was walking down the aisle. They got me to say it a thousand different times.”

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MAFS is known for its high level of drama (along with the occasional lasting love story). (Credit: Nine Network)

In an interview with our sister site Now To Love, the experts doubled down on the message that what you see is what you get.

“Do you think we could script this stuff?!” Mel Schilling says with a laugh. “We get this line every year. That is one of the very common responses. It’s a very polarising show.

“People have strong reactions to the show and I think when people watch something playing out on screen and it’s confronting or triggering them or reminding them of perhaps their own relationship, then it’s a very natural response to push away and to criticise.”

While the wild confrontations and drama are absolutely real – according to the experts – there is one thing that’s fake. The marriages.

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Mel Schilling with MAFS success story Cam Merchant and Jules Robinson. (Credit: Instagram)

Are the couples legally married on Married At First Sight?

In the US series, the couple are legally wed at the altar upon their first meeting, and need to file for annulment or divorce when they split up. Big yikes! But at least there’s a built-in prenup in their marriage license. 

In Australia, the couple don’t actually get married “for real” because the Australian Marriage Act orders couples to notify the court one month and one day ahead of tying the knot.

“Each participant embarked on a commitment ceremony with a wedding celebrant with all due intention to commit fully to this union for the duration of the experiment,” a Nine Network rep confirmed.

“At the end of the experiment, they are given the option to continue with the relationship or go their separate ways.”

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The couples are not legally wed in Australia, but otherwise the show is “real” according to producers. (Credit: Nine Network)

Are the MAFS contestants paid actors?

While there’s a clear distinction between what’s real and fake when it comes to drama and marriage certificates, the show certainly has a few more grey areas when it comes to casting.

There have been many instances of actors, models and influencers being cast as contestants. Another reason fans have suspected the show is “manufactured.” Though, that probably has more to do with the type of person who’s keen to be on TV than anything.

Former grooms Sam Ball, Bryce Ruthven and Mikey Pembroke had all been on Home and Away, Billy Porter was acting in commercials, Cathy Evans had a performing arts degree and Amanda Micallef had an extensive acting resume on StarNow.

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Contestants including Cathy Evans admitted to having acting experience in the past. (Credit: Instagram)

They may be actors, but according to the show’s expert Mel they’re not appearing on the show in acting roles – so it’s all above board.

“I can put my hand on my heart and say there are no actors,” she told the Chrissy, Sam & Brownie show on NOVA radio. “There may be people who have had experience acting in the past – as do I.”

There’s certainly a grey area or two when it comes to MAFS, but there’s no denying the series has captured Australia’s attention year after year. With millions of people tuning in to catch all the chaos, it’s no wonder the new season will have fans hooked from episode one.

Married At First Sight Australia airs Monday to Wednesday, 7:30pm, and Sunday, 7pm, on Nine Network and 9Now.

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