It seems like just yesterday that Married At First Sight kicked off as a thoughtful social experiment that also happened to be compelling television.
The strangers thrust together at the altar were carefully selected and their subsequent journeys were followed with more sensitivity than you usually find in reality television.
Some of them even wound up together at the end of it all.
But reaching the end of this latest instalment, it’s clear that balance is non-existent. It’s now all car crash viewing with a tiny sprinkling of romantic intent.
Make no mistake. The producers absolutely do not care if anyone actually finds love. And, dare I suggest it, neither do most of the contestants.
For its creators, this show is cheap but popular entertainment. Take a group of bat-shit crazy people, marry them off to someone who’s totally wrong for them and film the fireworks.
Throw one or two couples in who might work out – think this season’s John and Melissa, who on Monday night pledged to give it a go – but don’t devote much airtime to them.
For those who willingly sign up to this horrible ‘experiment’, the show is a vehicle for attention, validation, a kind of fame and some invitations to swanky catered parties back at home.
As I gagged once again having to see Troy furiously brush his teeth, I did a mental roll call and realised that most of this year’s contenders were either garbage people (Dean), total weirdos (Nasser), a bit broken in their soul (Davina) or not entirely sure what they wanted (Sarah).
And the nonsense they went on with! Either some of them were saying what they thought producers wanted to hear, hamming it up to deliver promo-worthy soundbites, or it was scripted for them.
Sarah’s dilemma on Monday night was painful. Surely she doesn’t really believe a permanent move across the country in a few days is reasonable, and that Telv wanting to take a few weeks to pack his crap and put it on a truck is a sign he didn’t like her.
I just don’t believe that people in their 20s talk about settling for less or compromising on things like attraction and chemistry, like Charlene was grappling with.
And Melissa wanting to take some time to think about whether she was ready to put herself out there for love, at the end of an eight-week television marriage, was laughable.
All of that is fine, I suppose, provided we viewers are on the same page about what we’re signing up for.
With millions of viewers each night, I suspect we’re all well aware that this is an entertaining look at ridiculous people playing out absurd dramas.
It is not about careful matchmaking, the science of romance or the pursuit of love.