We’ve always had a strange fascination with Channel 4’s Married at First Sight, the reality show which sees a group of experts analyse applications from singletons, in a bid to pair them up with the most ‘scientifically-perfect’ spouse. This results in a legally-binding wedding between two complete strangers (hence the title), a honeymoon, and a six-week period where the new husband and wife live together and see what’s what.
All of which, to be honest, sounds crazy - and we’ve always wondered what it’s really like to be on the show.
Enter Simone Lee Brennan.
Simone appeared on the second season of the Aussie version of the show, which aired in April last year.
The 29-year-old makeup artist soon found herself matched with Xavier Forsberg – and, for a while, viewers at home thought that the pair had what it takes to go the distance. Unfortunately, however, it wasn’t meant to be; in the show’s dramatic finale, she ended the relationship, citing a lack of romance and intimacy.
Now, in a lengthy post on her blog The Dating Journal, Simone has slammed the show's ‘misleading’ editing and implied producers set her up for failure – “after six months of filling in tedious questionnaires” - by matching her up with a guy who hadn't even applied for the show.
THE DATING JOURNAL | "Sure, the guy had a great rig, but unlike the casting crew (who obviously aren’t suffering as single members of society and actively dating themselves), I feel young single men with abs are as common as flies at a picnic. Just because a guy dons a washboard stomach and arms strong enough to crazy-Swayze you on a dance floor (the result of an addiction to F45 and hard boiled eggs), does not mean he cuts the mustard in the ‘husband material’ department." Finally, I'm addressing the elephant in the room. BACK TO REALITY. Live now, on The Dating Journal. Link in bio. SLB.x
“Here's the cold hard truth,” she writes. “Every reality 'TV star has their own reasons for wanting to put themselves out into the public eye. Of course, each to their own. For me, though, when I received the phone call to say my perfect match had been found, after six months of filling in tedious questionnaires, I honestly thought that my single days were over…
“Truth be told, my TV husband did not don a tux for love, or my single lady parts, despite sweating like a gypsy with a mortgage while waiting for me at the altar.”
She goes on to claim that producers had found Xavier working in a café and decided to ask him to appear on the show – no compatibility tests or questionnaires required.
“My faith in the 'matchmaking' process dwindled away somewhat when my TV husband shared with me immediately post-wedding ceremony that he hadn't dated for years and never actually applied for the experiment,” she says.
“He was recruited from a local cafe and thought, ‘Yeah sure, why not?’”
Simone goes on to reveal that it quickly became apparent her TV husband’s reasons for starring in the show were less than honourable; he was allegedly hoping it would lead to a job as a sports presenter, rather than find him a life partner.
“It became clear as day when [he] took great pleasure in asking the sound crew, camera crew, producers and what-have-you about potential front-of-house sports presenting gigs,” she wrote.
“He didn't want a bar of it... Week two, day three, of the five-week experiment, while folding a pile of bathroom towels during a filming break, he said to me, and I quote: ‘I'm just not that into it’.
“I wanted nothing more than to go back to my 'old' life. Real reality. But I couldn't,” she added.
Simone adds that, while she wanted to leave, her contract to the show didn’t allow her to – and the couple’s apparently scripted ‘story’ was supposed to show a perfect, blossoming marriage.
“Conversations and events were cut, copied, and pasted,” she admits. “I walked down the aisle four times, said my vows three times, and we kissed at the altar twice…
“[But] how could I walk away when everything caught on film was nothing short of a blossoming 'marriage' starring the perfect 'husband'. It was, in one word, f***ed.”
Read more: “I got married to myself”
Describing the day she quit the experiment as “the happiest day of my life to date”, Simone ends her exposé with a few important pieces of relationship advice.
“Never stay in a relationship if you feel the need to convince the person to be with you. You should never have to persuade someone that you are worthy of their time.
“Never stay in a relationship if you begin to question your self-worth. You should never feel like you're not good enough.
“Never stay in a relationship merely because you can't handle the thought of having to wait around for the real deal. You should never feel the need to wonder, what if?”
She also advised saving up your accrued annual leave for a holiday you truly want to go on, with someone you actually want to spend your time with, rather than head abroad with a total stranger.
What a way to end the year: My first article as a paid contribution writer has gone live. It's not at all beauty related, but dating related, all off the back of The Dating Journal - a little side hobby which I just love! Thanks @popsugarau I appreciate your support! A PopSugar exclusive: MELBOURNE BOUND, IN THE NAME OF LOVE. Link in bio. Enjoy. SLB.x
It’s worth pointing out that Married at First Sight, regardless as to whether it’s the UK, US, or Aussie version, has never enjoyed a higher success rate than 25%; Australia’s Alex Garner and Zoe Hendrix have stayed together, and recently welcomed a baby of their own. And, for fans of the UK show, last season’s Caroline and Adam are still very much together, too – although they’ve opted for a pet rabbit over a baby for the time being.
But it’s worth pointing out that the low success rate only considers the first six months, let alone the first six years of the relationship.
If you still fancy applying for the next series (and bear in mind that you can’t have been married before, or have any children), then send your name, phone number, age, location and email address to: email@example.com.