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Why this relationship expert reckons MAFS shouldn’t be cancelled

"I think the value of it is if it’s challenged."
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We saw plenty of drama this season on Married At First Sight, but unlike previous years, a slightly different conversation was going on between viewers at home.

WATCH BELOW: MAFS’ Bryce tells bride Melissa “you’re not my type”

Though the brides and grooms individually made names for themselves, this season of MAFS saw terms like “gaslighting” and “toxic behaviour” pop up and there was a lot more discussion about the nitty gritty details of relationships, especially unhealthy ones.

One couple that shocked viewers throughout the series was Bryce Ruthven and Melissa Rawson, namely due to the way Bryce’s behaviour towards his on-screen wife was depicted on the show.

Memorable moments include when Bryce ranked Melissa as the fourth most attractive bride before asserting that “she’s not ugly” to the time he shocked her and the group by writing leave and then stay at a Commitment Ceremony.

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Bryce and Melissa were arguably season eight’s most controversial couple. (Credit: Nine)

Fans of the show have called for Channel Nine to issue an apology for airing “triggering” scenes involving the couple with some reality stars backing the claims. But, CEO of Relationships Australia NSW Elisabeth Shaw tells WHO that those controversial scenes need to be shown, but also challenged.

“I think the value of it is if it’s challenged,” Elisabeth tells WHO.

“To be able to show it and discuss what’s happening and challenge the behaviour in a useful way and note constructive change, all of that is a community service because it’s really hard to tackle that sort of behaviour. Those on the receiving end of it often find it really hard to know what words to use and how to speak up for themselves and so if we could see all of that, that would be hugely beneficial.”

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Groom James was called out on the show for his “gaslighting” behaviour towards wife, Jo. (Credit: Nine)

Elisabeth says that the issue with combining serious themes with reality TV is that just having a debate and discussion isn’t enough.

“I think if we all just watch behaviour and everyone gasps and rolls their eyes or nothing much seems to happen as a result then that’s not useful – that’s actually looking like that behaviour is something you go along with,” she says.

“That is a concern but I think now that it’s in public display it’s better for the show to improve by being more responsible in addressing the issues that arise and not further embellishing them as good TV just because it’s dramatic.”

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“These are things that do happen in relationships…” (Credit: Nine)

So how can shows like MAFS improve? Elisabeth says cancelling the show is not the answer.

“I would prefer to see better production values and better responsibility in reporting and intervention than shutting it down because shutting it down means it all goes underground.

“These are things that do happen in relationships – being able to air it and look at how we as a community change these sorts of behaviours could be a really valuable thing to do.

“Unfortunately those shows are based on the dramatic moment where people do want to be shocked and react and say ‘Oh my heavens did you see that? I hate that person.’ Sometimes that’s as far as the debate and discussion goes and that’s not useful because just being reactive doesn’t help anybody.”

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Expert John Aiken (right) mentioned that there would be “polarising” contestants. (Credit: Nine)

Ahead of the season eight premiere, expert John Aiken revealed to WHO that there would be key players that we’d love, and others that we’d hate.

“Some of them are very polarising and one of the great things about Married At First Sight is that it is very diverse and we get all sorts of different people of different ages, cultures, sexual orientations and so I think there’s certainly a number of them there that you will get very invested in like most series.

“This one particularly there will be issues of power and control that come out, there will be issues around secrets, there will be concerns around boundaries so a lot of really juicy stuff.”

We’re unpacking all the relationship, sex and dating woes of this season’s Married At First Sight stars in our juicy new podcast, Love In Reality. Listen, like and subscribe below!

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