I watched an episode of Married At First Sight and learned that every day we stray further from God's light
Every day we stray further and further from God's light
Series four, episode one of Married At First Sight begins with a young woman confessing "I just can't find any single men that are worth giving it a go with, to be honest. It seems like at this age, all the good ones are either already married, or they're gay, or they're in a longterm relationship, and so what's left...." and she shakes her head.
Desperate to find love, Steph has resorted to a reality television show where some experts are going to scientifically match her with the perfect partner, eventually meeting just minutes before they marry.
The year is 2019 and the world has descended into chaos. What we're living in is a hellscape that's a far cry from the utopia that God, or whatever deity you chose to recognise, built for us all to inhabit.
People are volunteering to take part in reality television shows in a bid to find love, but also to lowkey score an instant boost to their social media following.
Every day is a living nightmare. Things cannot get any worse. So I decided to watch an episode of Married At First Sight to completion.
During the introductory montage that teases the series, a lady complains, "If I hear one more time, 'You're the coolest girl I've ever met, but...'", which is one of the most extraordinary humblebrags I've personally ever heard. She's branding herself as The Coolest Girl In The World, but reining in the claim by then insinuating that nobody is willing to love her. It's a masterclass in sociopathy. This girl has watched Love Island before. You can smell it.
The first scene shows Steph being fitted for her wedding dress, which proves, chillingly, that this whole thing isn't a joke. She is legitimately purchasing a presumably subsidised wedding dress for her appointment to wed a complete stranger.
"How long have you been with your partner?", the dressmaker asks, to which Steph replies "I don't actually know who he is yet. I've not met him before".
"That's a new one on me", the dressmaker replies with a cheery tone that does all but mask her horrified reaction. Perhaps the camera crew who would've identified themselves as the 'Married At First Sight' production team knocking at her door would've been a giveaway, but that's not for me to speculate. The point is that this stranger is baffled at the unfolding situation and is well within her rights to be.
The voiceover informs us that nearly 7,000 single people applied to be on the show this year, which is both alarming and tragic in equal measures. They feel that science can help them to find love, as opposed to real life methods. There's arguments for and against this logic, but the main question is why aren't they considering robots? Robots are more advanced than they've ever been before. They can mimic human emotions, perform physical tasks to a similar if not better effect than humans and they always end up inspiring the best episodes of Black Mirror.
The applicants get their physical measurements taken (one of which involves measuring the length of a man's finger for no apparent reason), then are subjected to psychological and behavioural profiling. One girl specifies that she'd like "Someone with a great sense of humour, but is also very serious", while a man just blurts out "Hopefully Meghan Markle" and laughs unnecessarily hard at his non-joke. Almost instantly, clarity is gained on the type of person that would apply to go on Married At First Sight. (A lunatic).
An impressive quartet comprised of a relationship therapist, psychologist, sociologist and wedding registrar join forces to scientifically match the applicants, who already have a lot in common in terms of being desperate enough to accept a very dubious means of finding love. The psychologist makes a very psychologist joke when they're discussing Steph, when he says "I've never met Steph, but I'm in love with her data". The others laugh because they know that that's a psychologist operating at their highest level of banter. This is the maximum comedic output that he can produce, and it's grim as hell. Scientifically, he should be matched with the skin off a kiwi.
Jonathan and Steph both receive phone calls from the registrar about their wedded fate, each thrilled to learn that they are officially engaged to strangers. Everyone is ecstatic. Imagine how they would feel if they were engaged to someone they loved, and crucially, knew what they looked like. Steph's initial reaction to the news was "This never happens to me", which is hysterical and also a basic requirement to take part in the show. You cannot get married if you are already married, at first sight or not.
Jonathan drives home to tell his Mum the news and she absolutely rinses him, first asking "Is it a real marriage?", then stating "So you don't know if she's like a Pamela Anderson because that used to be your pin-up?". She then adds "I hope she's the right one, because somebody had to do something for you", suggesting that the only way Jonathan was ever going to find a wife was through scientific intervention and national embarrassment on a reality TV show.
Meanwhile, upon informing her Mum of the engagement, Steph was surprised by her brash reaction which consisted of "I hope he's not an idiot", a valid question to which the answer is still unclear for us viewers. She then ended the interaction with "You're a complete fruit loop and I love you dearly". Not enough love to talk her out of this inevitable mistake, but enough to hug her. Sure.
In an unconventional twist, Jonathan asked one of his female friends to be his best man, which she agreed to. This is unprecedented. Jonathan is breaking down all societal norms here, by having a female occupy the role of a traditionally male position. Kind of like how marriage is traditionally intended for two people who love each other.
Continuing his descent into lunacy, Jonathan decides to make a gift for his anonymous future wife. Perhaps he will write her a poem, maybe he will compose a song, even paint a beautiful picture to cement their love that will ideally last an eternity? Nah, he nips out into his little garage and starts to saw pieces of wood to make a homemade version of Jenga, like an absolute cheapskate.
Meanwhile, Steph's hen party was severely lacking some printouts of her husband-to-be's face and the essential willy straws, but they persevered regardless. She gathered together with her closest friends to celebrate those precious final weeks of being unwed, complete with cocktail making, animal onesies, blowup dolls, unicorn hairbands, sashes, veils, bubbly and slurred bits of dialogue delivered to the camera.
Jonathan's stag was comprised entirely of girls and seemed to take place in someone's living room in front of a table of party food, while Jonathan wore a personalised t-shirt, sash and comically small tiara. What we've learned from this sequence of events is that he and Steph have something in common - a total willingness to look foolish on the telly, and a fondness for surrounding themselves with friends that are willing to tolerate their nonsense life decisions.
Flash forward to the morning of the wedding and both parties are understandably nervous. We've all been there! You're about to commit to spend the rest of your life with someone who is a total stranger and you're questioning everything! Just kidding, this is a bananas situation that nobody on earth should ever experience.
Six hours before the ceremony, Steph is getting her hair and makeup done, feeling nervous but willingly sharing the adventure with her closest friends. Jonathan is at the driving range. "I've got my suit hanging up, I've got my speech all ready", he says. Job done, Jonathan. Fair play. You're really giving this your all.
The beauty of television editing takes us forward in time. We're here. It's time for this fantasy to come crumbling down.
"Welcome to the family", Steph's mother jokes as she enters the venue to see Jonathan's clan. Both families are sat on opposite sides of the room, all sizing each other up trying to decipher who's going to be the most vicious in the divorce settlement, praying that none of them are lawyers. This is comedy in its purest form. Some people are idiots and their families are the real ones who suffer the most.
Jonathan enters first, greeting Steph's mother after basically being forced into it by the registrar. They exchange pleasantries, then Steph's Mum says "Party on, darling", which pretty much sums up the entire premise of the show. This is all just a big party, regarding which everyone will have many regrets about the next morning, some more severe than others.
On Jonathan's side of the room, a woman is crying. It's hard to know whether she's overcome with joy or fury at the situation in which she's found herself and it's likely that we'll never find out. We must carry that mystery with us until our dying days, weighing heavy upon our souls. This is what will ultimately tie us together with its impenetrable bond inducement.
Right as the wedding ceremony begins, it's time for Steph and Jonathan to finally meet for the first time. (A bananas sentence that deserves its own special paragraph).
"Hi, nice to meet you", "And you", they exchange, as they, and I cannot stress this enough, meet for the first time on their wedding day as the ceremony begins. The wedding itself was a laugh from start to finish, particularly at the part when the registrar asked if anyone objected to the marriage taking place and the entire congregation erupted into awkward tension-relieving laughter. The expressions around the room suggesting they were all thinking 'Fuck it, in for a penny, in for a pound'.
It wasn't until after the ceremony that the pair properly got to meet each others' friends and family, exchanging snapshots of their lives with each other in between formalities. One attendee said "They look right together", which was just about the nicest thing she could've said given the circumstances. Everyone appeared to be bonding over how ludicrous the situation was.
The first semblance of conflict arose when they sat down to enjoy their meal at the reception. The starter was a goat's cheese tart, but Steph doesn't like goat's cheese. This could've been the turning point in their otherwise perfect day. Everything could've descended into chaos, leaving the marriage in disarray. But quick-thinking Jonathan simply switched plates as he'd already cleared his tart, happily tucking into Steph's portion. Crisis averted. Maybe they will be happily married after all.
As they cut the cake and then commence their first dance together both as man and wife, but also ever, the world feels hopeful. Two complete strangers have been forever bound together thanks to science (and the insane situation into which they've plunged themselves), and it's possible that this is the future. Old fashioned romance is cancelled, dating apps are going to see a decline in users. Science is the way to find love. Instant weddings are the future.
Next, it's time for the bride and groom to leave the party and head to their honeymoon suite. Seven hours after first meeting, Steph and Jonathan are alone for the first time. Both are visibly nervous with anticipation. Sure, traditionally the wedding night is a good time to consummate a marriage, but they've only just met. Shit though. Their chemistry is electric. Are they going to fuck? It seems like they might actually fuck? ARE THEY GOING TO FUCK?
Then Jonathan whips out his homemade Jenga wedding gift for Steph and kills the mood in one fell swoop.
As the camera is ushered out of the room and they're left to spend their first night together, Steph's eyes tell a thousand words, most of them 'JESUS FUCKING CHRIST DO NOT LEAVE ME HERE WITH JENGA MAN, I AM BEGGING YOU'.
This marriage is never going to work. Nope. Not a fucking hope.
Images via Channel 4