This week, it was announced that yet another couple from Married at First Sight is expecting a baby. For seasoned watchers, this should come as no surprise. The show has proven, time and time again, that a good old-fashioned arranged marriage can really stand the test of time, with a reported 30% of the show’s marriages lasting.
But for people who still haven’t heard of the show (living under a rock much? Sarah: yes), or those who don’t watch it, you may be asking why this is significant and whether it’s the same concept as 90 Day Fiance, so let’s break it all down.
First, the expecting couple is season 12’s Briana Myles and hubby Vincent Morales. The two proved themselves to be an easygoing couple that had similar interests and strong family values. It came as no shock when decision day came and they chose to stay married, despite each of the other four couples in their season deciding to split, either on decision day or after.
Next, let’s talk about the premise of the show and how it differs from something like 90 Day Fiance. Married at First Sight is quite literally where you marry someone at first sight. A panel of three experts, Dr. Pepper Schwartz, Dr. Cal Roberson and Dr. Viviana Coles, narrow down a slew of applicants who have expressed interest in an arranged marriage. They look at things like core values, expectations in a partner and relationship, and long-term goals to match hopefuls up with potential partners.
Once a match has been made, the experts let each partner know and they’re off to enjoy traditional pre-wedding celebrations like bachelor and bachelorette parties, saying yes to the dress and then on their wedding day, they meet (for the first time) at the altar.
The filmed social experiment is actually based on a Danish series called Gift Ved Forste Blik. It was so successful and well-received that it was franchised to 13 other countries, and believe it or not, the American version is the most tame. For some reason, reality shows in other places like Australia and the U.K. are next level.
Speaking of other countries, that brings me to 90 Day Fiance, and the several spinoffs that came from it – 90 Day Fiance: Happily Ever After? And 90 Day Fiance: Before the 90 Days and the newer favourite, 90 Day Fiance: The Single Life which follows former castmates who are now single in their dating endeavours. There are so many spinoffs that I actually had to stop watching. The series became very discombobulated and it grew difficult to keep track of my favourite couples. I still tune in occasionally, but my initial investment has dwindled, much like many of the relationships. Zing!
90 Day Fiance is based on the premise that two couples who have been having a long-distance relationship with someone overseas are slotted to get married and have 90 days on a K-1 Visa to do so. In many cases, the show has documented key moments, such as the first meeting, the airport pickups, and my personal favourite, the family introductions where families meet their new future-in-law or find out that a wedding will be taking place.
It’s a wild show, truly, considering there have been countless couples who are engaged to spend the rest of their lives together despite not speaking the same language. But like Married at First Sight, we’ve seen the show have its successes. A few couples who are still together, to this day, are Loren and Alexei Brovarnik who currently have two children and a large following of heavily invested fans. Russ and Paola Mayfield are another fan favourite couple from season one that have persisted through trying times, refusing to divorce and opting to “work through” their issues they say were caused by the pandemic. They have an adorable baby boy named Axel. And who could forget Melanie Bowers and Devar Walters? This couple met while Melanie was on vacation in Jamaica and he proposed to her while she was at the resort where he was a lifeguard.
The show has worked simultaneously to destigmatize long-distance relationships just as much as it has breathed life into claims of “green card only” couples, with some marriages ending as soon as permanent U.S. residence is granted. But it’s truly shed a light on the difficulties couples can face in trying to build a life with someone who lives overseas, also documented on a spinoff called 90 Day Fiance: The Other Way, in which the American partner goes and lives with the partner overseas.
Despite the idea that all reality TV is just scripted junk, there is a lot to learn from both shows. For some, it’s shown them the dangers of interacting with people online, perhaps people they’re sending money to that they haven’t yet met. For others, it’s given them the confidence to date outside of their local communities. For a few, it’s shown them that taking a leap of faith and putting trust in experts might be the best way to go. And for many, like myself, it’s just sheer entertainment!