Writing about reality television is a fraught endeavour. The little cottage industry of recappers, commentators, and speculators that thrives on Australia’s reality TV output – so, us – is often forced to accept the show on its own terms, no matter how patently ridiculous they may be. The fun would be spoiled, otherwise.

But Married At First Sight’s penultimate episode did more than any other to absolutely nuke the show’s premise – that each couple was matched due to some opaque psychoanalytic process, thereby proving the power of science to manufacture lasting relationships – so a more critical examination may be warranted.

Last night, we saw the same ‘experts’ who deigned to match this suite of lovelorn Aussies practically jump out of their seat with excitement as Tracey Jewel pashed Sean Thomsen. And the kiss happened in front of Dean Wells and Blair Rachael, the initial partners to Jewel and Thomsen, respectively.

Sean's Surprise

Sean’s arrived with one big surprise! ???? #MAFS

Posted by Married At First Sight Australia on Tuesday, 20 March 2018

The panel of relationship gurus dared not criticise the new couple’s actions, let alone admit their methodology may be a touch screwy. Their silence on the fuckery before them spoke volumes about the show’s grandest conceit: that the people in charge know what they’re doing.

It’s fun to get steamed over something as silly as a reality TV show, and Australia rarely has a conduit for righteous indignation as perfect as Married At First Sight. Yet previous interviews with the cast members suggest some of them genuinely put stock in the show’s premise.

Self-proclaimed relationship experts John Aiken, Trisha Stafford, and Mel Schilling are complicit in the rampant mangling of love-lives for entertainment purposes. After last night’s deliberately spicy episode, it’s impossible to avoid that simple fact.

And there’s still one more to come.

Image: Married At First Sight / Channel 9