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It’s Monday, it’s MAFS, it’s the first of the god damn dinner parties and I’m still hungover from the weekend so by God let’s get into this shitshow without delay.

We kick off with some uplifting scenes of Russ and Beth, Brett and Booka, Melissa and Bryce, and Bec and Jake partaking of the apparently limitless carousel of honeymoon activities the MAFS team provide – whale watching! Hot air ballooning! Flying kites while swaddled in blankets!

it’s called fashion sweatie

But what’s this? On the NSW coast, the fallout from that monstrous “honesty box” is continuing. Sam and Cam are sleeping in separate rooms. She hasn’t heard from him at all after she took him to task for shagging her despite feeling zero emotional connection, and he flounced off into the car park with the wounded theatricality common only to washed-up 1940s starlets and unenlightened heterosexual men.

He’s all like, “I was just being honest, I was doing what I’d do in any situation, I really feel like I wasn’t being heard,” and oh yes, truly YOU are the one who’s been wronged here, my lumpen friend.

you getting mad at me for hurting your feelings actually hurts MY feelings you MONSTER

He reckons he’s a man of his word (vom) and he wants to talk things through before the dinner party, because he thinks “at the end of the day, we can both still get something out of this.” Cool attitude, you fucking thumb.

In the Bungalow of Broken Dreams, Belinda and Patrick are grappling with the aftermath of Pat’s terminal bathtime fuckup (remember, when he was like Let’s have a bath, no biggie, oWo what’s this, lovely strokeable feet?? and Belinda bolted so fast she broke the sound barrier).

Pat is morosely swinging in a cane egg seat and Belinda comes over and sits on his lap. Natural.


one more producer’s name just got added to the kill list

Pat tells the camera that he really expected “a warmer reaction” from the whole bath scenario, and I am once again forced to ponder where, exactly, MAFS finds these people who have apparently never met, read about, heard stories about or seen a picture of other human beings. He says he doesn’t know where he stands, emotionally. It’s his fear of rejection rearing its needless head again, because he needs Belinda to demonstrate warmth otherwise he will feel rebuffed, and because she’s still freaked out about that fucking bath, she’s obviously not showing him a bunch of affection! So he withdraws, she feels weird, the cycle continues, everyone go to therapy immediately.

She says she wants to lift his spirits, and that she’s “got a really good idea”. The idea is skydiving. I’m going to go out on a limb here and suggest that Belinda, who appears by all accounts to be a Celtic river goddess who slipped through a rip in the space-time continuum and accidentally ended up on reality TV, did not come up with the idea to go skydiving.

unhand me, mortal! you know not what you meddle with!!

Anyway the two of them are now so flooded with adrenaline that they’re happy to mistake it for interpersonal connection and you know what, I support it. Pat again chooses the least appropriate moment to call Belinda “down to earth”. Bless ’em both. The dynamics at the dinner party are going to eat them alive.

In Mimosa Rocks, NSW (sorry???? why do I not live in MIMOSA ROCKS????), Beth and Russell are being treated to a night glamping and some fruit on a swing.

I like my fruit like I like my men: low-hanging

Russell wants to give her a kiss, but they haven’t macked on since the wedding day. Unfortunately Beth just… isn’t feeling it. She’s not attracted to him. He calls the champagne “Mow-ett”, and I see the last little light flicker out of Beth’s eyes.

She lays it on the line, and tells him that when she’s with him “nothing happens in my heart, or my head… or my body.” Poor Russ is visibly devastated. Wish she hadn’t used the term “friend-zone” but I give her props for being openly communicative, and Russell gets a thousand points for saying, “I just don’t usually talk that way,” because recognising your stuck points is the first step towards unsticking them (yes I’ve been listening to a lot of self-help podcasts and no I will NOT apologise).

Okay we’ve got the preliminaries out of the way – let’s get on to the main event: the FIRST MAFS DINNER PARTY. This is the real core of this nightmarish show and the voiceover lady  isn’t even pretending: she’s just like, “This is when everyone’s marriages will be judged by the other couples,” and like damn, okay! Don’t hold back, voiceover lady!

A moment to appreciate the undeniable chemistry between Brett and Booka, who are doing cute silly shit in the car on the way to the venue.

I ship it

Bec and Jake are getting ready for the dinner party, and Jake is feeling the best he’s felt so far! I’m happy for this blockheaded hottie. He gives Bec some nice compliments and she’s like, “I’m hoping you can actually meet me in my element tonight,” which gives me STRONG future villain vibes and I am… very excited.

“I’m hoping there’s three things that aren’t there,” she says, apparently unprompted. “Fake meat, fake cheese, and fake people.” HELL yes.

Sam and Cam are heading to the dinner party separately. Sam wants Cam to initiate conversation with her rather than telling everyone else what happened first. She has also refused to meet up with Cam before the party. He is “really disappointed” by this.

experiencing consequences for my actions is violence, actually

How’s he going to behave himself at the dinner party now? “If you want to fix your relationship, fix it,” he says, “don’t just blame someone else,” and I am sitting here scratching my head wondering whom, exactly, he thinks should be shouldering the blame for making his wife feel manipulated, undesirable and hoodwinked? He says he’s “not going to play games”, which sounds a helluva lot like he is, in fact, intending to play the shit out of some games. My heart rate just shot through the roof. Hang on I have to get a glass of wine.

Okay I’m back, and Coco is wearing a Dior visor and bike shorts and brooding out a window about the fact that she’s going to have to see Samantha tonight and cop her own set of consequences for being a bit of a dickhead.

am I pensive or has my bum eaten my bike shorts

I’d completely forgotten about this spicy bit of interpersonal drama, but MAFS thoughtfully provides a refresher: at the hen’s night, Sam explained that her ex-husband and the father of her children is 16 years older than her, and that they got together when she was 17. Coco was like, “Urk, call the judge! That’s a bit red hot!”, and while I cannot fault the core message (quick side bar to tell any 16-year-old girls reading this that the 33-year-old guy who’s messaging you doesn’t REALLY think you’re “so mature” and “different to other girls”, he is a bad man with a brain disease and you should tell an adult/the police) – Coco definitely shouldn’t have been so fucken rude about it. Sam was pissed off.

I will vaporise you without a backwards glance you fkn muppet

Boy Sam/Marshall Mathers IV is like, “Are you going to talk to Sam about it?” and Coco is like “I don’t have anything against Samantha, if anything like I’m so upset that she thinks that I’m a terrible person” and what’s this, my wine glass is empty already! Sorry, persecution complexes make me thirsty and this show is a fucken almanac of them Jesus CHRIST.

“I’m like public enemy number one,” she pouts. “I just don’t understand how you can judge someone off not even having a one-on-one conversation with them.” Jeez, Coco, I think you’re right! How CAN someone judge another person based only on their words and actions? Deeply unfair!!!

“Obviously she’s small-minded and a bit of a peanut,” says Boy Sam blithely. “And if anything happens I’ll have your back.” Could there be more to this peroxided mannequin than liking tits? I’m not holding my breath. More wine!

Okay we’ve swung over to Alana and Jason, who are apparently dealing with the aftermath of a “huge fight”. She’s concerned, still, about his lack of depth and inability to talk about serious things, and Jason, who I really don’t think is feigning the extent of his emotional prowess, is just hurt and confused. Stop being mean to my little lizard friend! He’s doing his best!

I miss my terrarium

Finally, everyone is on the way to the dinner party. Expert John Aiken is confidently explaining what a good idea the dinner parties are, because the couples have to confront their issues and they can’t wear a mask and yadda yadda, we all know it’s just an excuse to put fourteen near-strangers in a room with no windows or clocks and have them drink until you can see the brain cells exploding behind their eyes like tragic little fireworks.

The three experts are set up in a room watching a monitor of the party, and Alessandra is so excited to be seeing the couples taking part in the experiment! In fact, she’s so excited that she’s going to be “eating up that monitor”. Mel gives the laugh of someone who’s just realised she’s trapped in a room with a sophisticated predator in a  plunging neckline.

don’t make any sudden moves

Alana and Jason are the first to arrive, and gravitate towards the ice buckets as though drawn by a tractor beam. Four other couples quickly arrive, and everyone immediately splits into boys and girls groups. It’d be cute if it wasn’t such an on-the-nose illustration of your average MAFS contestant’s maturity level.

ha ha tits

In the girls’ corner, Melissa says she painted Bryce in the nude (WHY?) and Jo immediately asks the question on everybody’s lips:

I’m so glad you asked

“You might need a big crayon or a little pencil,” she shriek-whispers, and once again I am forced to scream into the ether: HOW MUCH BOOZE IS IN THAT CHAMPAGNE????

In the boys’ group, they’re all swapping shagging stories. The revelation that Bryce and Melissa did it on the first night goes down a treat. James and Jo are spilling everything to camera and doing a really bad job of pretending to be sober.

NUTBUSH CITY LIMITS

Oop, no time for merriment, here comes Sam, alone, furious and absolutely spoiling for a fight. She walks in solo and everyone’s like “Hii! [gasp] Noooo!!!!” All the experts do the same thing from their subterranean supervillain HQ.

Everyone at the party gathers around Sam like 15-year-olds at their first music festival clustering around their crying drunk friend who lost a gumboot. What happened? “Cam actually… left me on the honeymoon,” says Sam, and everyone makes this face :O

ohmigod babes seriously???

Someone goes, “Sam, do you want to get a drink?” and she basically teleports to the bar while the MAFS experts admire her togetherness and all the girls press her for the hot goss. She says she and Cam had a “disagreement about morals”, which is an understatement that deserves a (small, understated) medal, and then she refuses to go into any more detail, saying that he can explain things when he arrives. Very restrained!

This solo appearance has really thrown things into perspective for Alana, who sidles up to her very red-faced lizard and boops him on the nose, saying, “We’re not the worst ones! We could have come here alone!” Winning by default: now that’s romance.

Bec and Jake have finally arrived, and I’m glad I’m not the only one who’s struck dumb by how good-looking they are (Sam’s going “hot couple! hot couple!” like a horny little fire alarm), followed by Brett and Booka, whose “North-Pole-elf meets Lord-of-the-Rings-elf” dynamic is really tickling me.

nothing but respect for MY towering sexy bride

Bec is fulfilling her preordained villain role and I am satisfied on a fundamental level. While her gentle himbo Jake is off talking her up to da boiz, she’s holding court like an evil queen and cackling prettily about rejecting his advances.

the royal lips are for sneering, not smooching!

Sweet Baby Angel Jake comes over to join the convo, and she ices him out good. Let’s not dwell on that though, ‘cos here comes Coco and Marshall Mathers IV! Samantha wastes no time in letting them know that Cam abandoned her on their honeymoon, but, TWIST – Marshall Mathers IV knows Cam from back home and he reckons he’s a “pretty chilled-out guy” so clearly Samantha’s DONE SOMETHING to DRIVE HIM AWAY. You can practically see Coco and MMIV boosting each other up on that high horse, which I suppose is as valid a way to build intimacy in a relationship as any.

“Samantha was very set on who she wanted and I don’t think she came into this with an open heart, and maybe she does just need to calm down,” says Coco, barely audible from the outer stratosphere.

as the calmest MAFS contestant I can speak with authority here

I do love how this show manages to comprehensively disprove the myth that women are the gossipy ones, ‘cos half the bloody episode so far has been blokes murmuring to each other at subtitle-requiring volumes.

at least they are correct murmurs

We are at the halfway point and Cameron has finally shown up. Sam looks ready to take a bite out of her champagne flute. I’m just necking pinot grigio from the bottle at this point.

Sam does her very best to be polite (“I’m surprised to see you came back!”) and gives him a hug and a kiss, and Cam responds by giving every other woman a cuddle in greeting and then openly perving on Ice Queen Bec.

Your Majesty, might I mostly humbly say: phwoar g’day

Sam and Cam take up positions on opposite sides of the room. “It’ll take a lot to change my feelings at the moment,” says Cam, “because I’m still quite angry.” Quick q, babe: WHY??????? I am feeling GASLIT AS HELL by this show, and I’m just the putz on the couch cracking open her third bottle of Jacob’s Creek. Can someone check in on Samantha for me real quick ‘cos I am terrified for her emotional well-being.

The increasingly inebriated MAFS contestants are funnelled into the dining room, where they finally get to buffer all that booze with some solid food.

nothing soaks up a hundred beers like a light garden salad

Ice Queen Bec is complaining to Jo about how Jake needs validation all the time. On the other side of the table Jake is being astonishingly generous in his convo with Marshall Mathers IV, saying that Bec is “borderline rude” to him, in which case he is “borderline sexy” and I am “borderline emotionally crippled by the flagrant cruelty endemic to this show”. Jake decides to come and join Bec’s conversation.

He talks about how hot she is again, and said he tried too hard too early, and she’s like Lol yeah you are a fucken try hard. Then she calls him boring and says, “He makes 32 seem really, like, old,” and excuse me – EXCUSE ME – are you actually telling everyone’s favourite himbo, he of the perfect little face and definitely ripped-to-shreds AFL body, that he is TOO OLD?!


couldn’t have put it better myself Sam

Jake tells the camera that Bec’s attitude towards him is disrespectful, rude, and a real problem for him. We’re going to need to get some more of those understatement medals made!

Down the other end of the dinner table, Coco is quickly becoming a Belinda and Patrick stan. The pair were talking about getting tattoos (!) that said B+P and Coco shrieks, “BP mate, gets the engines running!” and oh my goooddd I love her and she loves them. “Belinda and Patrick,” she coos to camera, “you just want to wrap them in a little bundle and take them home. They are beautiful.”

Coco and Sam are really leaning into their on-the-ground MAFS commentary, giving us all the goss on Mel and Bryce (“They are loved up, they are feeling each other, they’re successful, they’re A1, they’re popping, literally and figuratively”) and Booka and Brett (“I’m vibing them. That’s like Newtown but make it love.”). Why the hell am I writing these?! Get Coco on the payroll, PTV! Can’t waste talent like hers on Pilates students!

Of course the elephant in the room is Sam and Cam. Who’s gonna be the one to stick a finger in that gaping wound? It’s Jo! Thanks, Jo.

“You showed up here tonight,” she says to Cam. “So do you think that you want to give it a go?”

“I wanted to come in together,” sulks Cam.

Bryce finally says it: “Are you guys going to tell us what happened?” and that’s all Sam needs to tell the whole story:

“On our honeymoon, he was leaning in for kisses and we had this beautiful sunset cruise and there was handholding, and that night we were intimate,” she says, while Cam huffs and rolls his eyes. “The next day the honesty box came out, and basically it was, he has no emotional connection with me, no attraction, and he likes more physical girls, more active girls.”

correct response

The experts are actually appearing expert, for once: they rightly explain to one another that for Samantha, it feels like a rejection – Cam slept with her, and then told her he wasn’t attracted to her. She feels used. I would too! Life is a fucking nightmare!

Oh, Cam’s talking now, good-o, what’s he going to say to defend himself? Huge surprise: it’s that he’s just being honest. “The honesty box came out, and I’m honest with her,” he barks, “Yes, there’s a connection. Emotional connection? No, not yet! That’s honesty!” Where does dicking down a girl you’re not actually that keen on fit in your Byzantine topography of honesty, Cam? Hmm???

He’s like, You could have not slept with me! And Sam’s like, My feelings were in the right place! And he’s like, “Just because I’m not on your level emotionally, doesn’t mean I don’t want to get intimate with you,” and I’m sorry, does he consider “just cos I don’t like you doesn’t mean I don’t wanna fuck you” to be an adequate response to this situation? Someone bring me my fainting couch, I can feel an audacity-induced collapse coming on.

“Accusing someone of a one-night stand doesn’t sit well with me at all,” he says, and down I go.

Fortunately for me Sam has brought her blow torch to dinner and revives me by absolutely fucking melting him.

“I was planning on coming here together,” he says again, and she takes a deep breath and says:

“So you were planning on coming here together, after you left me on the honeymoon and walked off and ripped your microphone off and said ‘Why am I matched with this girl, I want out of this experiment’, because of our first hard conversation? That, to me, is not commitment.”

wasn’t expecting to see a man have his flesh flayed from his bones tonight but go off sis

What does Cam, our patron saint of the measured response, do? He flounces off again.


bye bitch

Out in the industrial wasteland beyond the dinner party, Cam is having a perambulatory tantrum. “It’s fucking painful,” he moans. Our gonzo commentators Coco and Sam sum up the situation nicely: “The honesty box, like put a gleam on it mate. You can’t polish a turd but you can roll it in glitter. Like… try.”

when life give you hotdogs, stick some tits on ’em

Poor Sam. She says she’s felt something for Cam from day dot, and she was so happy. Walking off on her again just compounds her feelings of rejection. She has a nice little chat to Patrick, who reckons the situation is “shithouse”. I’m just stoked that he doesn’t subject her to one of his “cheese and whiskers!” exclamations.

Meanwhile, Coco has had a crisis of conscience and decides that now is the time to “clear the air”. She executes the extremely hot-girl-in-high-school move of coming to get Sam “for a chat” and the music is OMINOUS and I am FREAKING OUT.

Wait – oh my god – I am fucking FLOORED: Coco sits Sam down and goes, “I just wanted to say, after everything that happened at the hen’s night… I just want to say thank you for giving me a chance and for not writing me off. It shows so much about your character.” Sam’s like, My family unit is something that I’ll always feel protective of, and Coco’s like, I respect you so much for that, and don’t mind me, I’m just weeping tears of feminine solidarity into my wine mug.

“I just gotta let a sister know that I’m here for her,” Coco tells the camera, and who expected MAFS of all places to be the site of some real grassroots feminist activism? Not me!!!

the patriarchy wants us to believe that we’re in competition with one another for artificially scarce resources of male attention and I just want to let you know that that’s like… so not true babe

Back in the boys’ gossip corner and Sam’s being a horrible little goblin and asking James and Jake who they reckon the hottest chick there is. Both of them robustly respond, “My wife,” and Sam cackles his grimy little gremlin laugh and goes, “Nah, it’s Alana.”

tiiiiits

A moment of appreciation for Jake attempting to tell Sam to not be a fucken dog. Doesn’t work, obviously, but credit where it’s due.

Meanwhile, Russell has decided to check in with Cam, who’s really leaning into the “poor me” angle and lord, it is tedious. “It’s upsetting when someone just tries to stomp you on the ground when you’re already down,” he whines. “She’s not open to my thoughts. She doesn’t want to hear what I have to say. I’m so angry and upset.”

pictured: the real victim here

Russell makes the astute suggestion that Cam just have a conversation with her, but Cam reckons she won’t even listen to him. It’s all a bust! He’s tried nothing and he’s all out of ideas! He reckons he’s going to write “leave” at the first MAFS commitment ceremony.

No time to consider the implications of that, though, ‘cos here comes John Aiken, busting in with big youth pastor energy ready to scold everyone for being naughty little emotionally constipated boys and girls.

you know who else loves commitment? the big guy upstairs

“The honeymoon now is well and truly over,” he says. “There is no commitment ceremony this week. Instead, tomorrow you will start setting up house as man and wife, when you move into your new apartment.”

“Man and wife”? Gross! Cohabitation? GROSSER.

After cheerfully letting a roomful of hammered people know they’re going to be spending their hangover moving house, he bails. And that’s the end of the episode! The previews for tomorrow appear to show a level of cruelty I thought unavailable even to this depraved format, in which the contestants are required to arrange photographs of each other in order of attractiveness, and yep, MAFS needs to be tried for human rights violations. See you next ep!