So called reality TV is anything but real; it is nothing more than contrived entertainment. The Dr Phil show is an outstanding example, its website bearing this disclaimer:
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Even though the controversies presented on reality TV are obviously confected, the gullible consider them real.
Hello, my name is Clementine Ford and I am obsessed with Married At First Sight.
I’m aware of the delicious irony at play here. Back in December, I wrote a column about the grotesque nature of this show and Channel Nine’s decision to promote a contestant whose gender politics (and conversational skills, it turns out) had been pulled straight out of the 1950s.
Spoiler: Dean is worse than we thought.
At the time, I wrote, “Married At First Sight is a reprehensible premise for a show so tacky you could throw it against the wall and it wouldn’t peel off for weeks.” I stand by that statement and yet here I am, spending my evenings scavenging in its garbage like a dirty bin chicken and tweeting about the characters as if my life depended on it. If it takes weeks for the show itself to peel its way off the walls, think about how sticky the shame feels. You win this round, Channel Nine.
But never one to pass up the opportunity for cultural commentary (even when it’s about something sleazier than Barnaby Joyce’s dating history), I maintain there are lessons to be learned in the trainwreck that is this (and probably every other) season of #mafs.
The main lesson learned?
Men are trash
Before you send me an email from your special firstname.lastname@example.org account, calm down. Obviously I know that not all men are trash. Just most of them. In fact, the only men in the whole of Australia who aren’t obviously trash are Telv, John and Patrick (and Henry from My Kitchen Rules, #marrymehenry).
I know from the majority of my straight girlfriends that the pickings are Skinny As out there. When you’re in your twenties, you’re like, “Oh he’s gotta enjoy reading books and trying new food, and he has to vote Greens and get on well with his mum and it’d be great if he enjoyed going on hikes but it’s not essential as long as he’s into some kind of physical activity!”
When you get to your thirties, you are literally so demoralised by the number of adult men you’ve slept with who have newspapers for curtains and use a towel as a bottom sheet that your only requirements for a mate are that he showers sometimes.
Clemmie’s analysis of a totally contrived situation continues:
Pay attention to the Red Flags
If you’ve been foraging in the bin with the rest of us, you’ll know that Dean (who’s married to Tracey) and Davina (who’s married to Ryan) have been coordinating the start of an “affair”. It’s sordid and sleazy and gross and it makes me wonder again what pretty people talk about when they go on dates with each other. So far, Davina and Dean have just talked together about how hot the other one is and how the chemistry between them is “unbelievable”.
And now for the male manipulation of of a helpless female:
They both demonstrate a remarkably seamless skill with gaslighting too, and they make a great study of people who are textbook abusers. Davina’s emotionally cruel to Ryan, and her manipulation of Tracey is next level. Feigning an intimate friendship while scheming to steal a significant other is diabolical.
But Dean exhibits so many red flags, it’s as if a toddler’s been let loose on a craft table. His gaslighting of Tracey includes telling her their disconnect is essentially her fault because she doesn’t understand that people from Sydney have a more lax view of monogamy. It continued with him very cleverly making her feel like she was obliged to defend his good character to other cast members mere moments after he returned from a secret meeting with Davina in which he declared one of Tracey’s problems to be that her looks “aren’t all that good”.
So here we have queer feminist Ford passing judgement on a contrived heterosexual relationship featured on a sensationalist TV program. It’s an opportunity for Ford to showcase her man-hate:
No female has encouraged and manipulated a horny male, ever, not Ford anyway.