FYI Network's Married at First Sight, Season 1, became a phenomenal overnight success, in part because of the integrity of the 4 matchmaking experts. So what are we in for in Season 2? I had the chance to ask one of the show's four expert specialists, Dr. Joseph Cilona, licensed clinical psychologist, for exclusive insight on Married at First Sight (MAFS) Season 2, also seen on A&E!
The one thing viewers would like to see this season, is more interaction between the experts and the couples in the initial 6 weeks of the social experiment. Do you play a more significant role than you did last season?
Remember what you see is quite different than what occurred. There are hundreds of hours of film and the editors have the very difficult task of choosing the moments that represent the most important elements of these journeys. They do this in a way that helps the viewers get the most out of it. For example, the "Matchmaking Special" (and all episodes) has about 44 minutes of actual content. That discussion among the experts occurred over a 14 hour day. What you saw was just us summarizing our discussion over the previous month that determined our matches.
I understand that the editors have to choose general issues that many viewers can understand and relate to (e.g. both Jessica and Ryan D. are very family oriented) however, it's important to understand that the issues mentioned are a TINY, TINY fraction of what goes into these matches. My data alone for the finalists we were considering for MAFS Season 2 totaled over 3,800 pages. It took me almost 400 hours to analyze and come up with my recommendations for matches.
This season we (the experts) actually had more contact with the couples throughout the process. That contact began earlier on in the process than it did in MAFS Season 1. We felt that it was necessary and more appropriate as a lesson from Season 1. With that said, it's important to remember that we need to strike a balance between providing necessary support and guidance and allowing these couple to make their own decisions and navigate these relationships themselves.
In certain aspects, the season 2 matches seem to mirror the couples from
Season 1 (e.g.parents not supportive, bride not attracted to groom, etc).
Were they "cast" into specific roles or is this just coincidental?
We are matching real people with real histories and real issues. We all have them and they typically impact very heavily our romantic relationships. I cringe when I hear the phrase "perfect match" in the promos and show. You will never hear me utter that phrase, nor any of the other experts. There are no perfect matches or perfect people.
We are using our social science tools to try to find individuals that have the highest POTENTIAL for romantic compatibility. Just because a potential exists, doesn't mean it can (or will) be realized. I think one of the biggest lessons of MAFS Season 1 is: MARRIAGE REQUIRES WORK!
For me, one of the things that makes MAFS so special is that we see some of the authentic nuances and challenges that impact our romantic relationships and marriage, and how someone's issues and past can complicate or help. That's where the real lessons lie.
We have to weigh out how histories and issues may impact the potential for a successful marriage, how they might fit together, (or not) and ultimately if we feel the positives will overcome any negatives. It's not an easy process. We all have issues. We all have histories.
We DO NOT choose people that have troubling issues to "make good TV". I would NEVER participate in anything like that. I think that is deeply wrong, hurtful, exploitive and destructive to the individuals themselves, as well as the viewers and the world at large.
Regarding the similarities specifically, it's important to remember that one of the main reasons we (the experts) agreed to do this show to begin with was that we were given full control to choose the matches. The network and production company do no make any of the matches. It's all the experts.
With that said, I think there are some similarities, but the issues you mentioned are quite common and also likely to be common in the context of this particular experiment. If anything, given a choice, I think the network and production company would choose entirely different issues. Other than what specific elements of the journeys are chosen through the editing process, they don't have a choice. The couple's journey's are their own. The cameras just document them.
I understand you are not part of the editing process. Was there anything that surprised you when watching the first episode?
I was surprised, and quite frustrated that Jessica, who has done modeling and acting on the side for years, wasn't highlighted in either the Matchmaking Special or episode 1. This has already created some controversy on social media. I feel a bit of deja vu when the whole Jamie/Bachelor thing emerged. I'm certain now this is likely to continue to cause some people to call both her authenticity and the authenticity of the experiment into question.
Again, that filming day was about 12 hours and I understand they simply can't include every detail. However, I feel very strongly that this was something that should have been highlighted. Jessica was very open with us about her acting and modeling, even in season 1 when we didn't find a match for her. We discussed this in great length and depth.
Jessica is absolutely authentic and probably the one participant that was MOST hopeful and engaged in the whole process. Maybe in part because she went through part of the process before and was really engaged in the journeys of the couples of season 1.
It's a bit ironic because the modeling/acting (that she does primarily much more for fun, to make extra money, as a sideline etc.) was one of the reasons we felt she was a good fit for Ryan D. He surely has an edge to him and is adventurous. We felt he couldn't be fulfilled and satisfied in the long term with someone who was too conservative.
Because they are both so family oriented, the fact that Jessica has this fun, edgy and "wild" side with her sometimes racy modeling, seemed like it rounded her out in a way that honored her more traditional core family values. It could be a great fit and balance for Ryan and his adventurous, risk-taking, love for excitement, edgy side.
I'm certain her authenticity (and sensitivity) will be quite evident as the journeys unfold. I think it's actually really special that she is so family oriented, traditional, sweet and down to earth, with this spicy side that she expresses through her risqué modeling and acting. I'm a huge fan of Jessica. She is a lovely, kind and uniquely sensitive person.
For a more in-depth look at Married at First Sight through the lens of Dr. Cilona, click here:
To read my interview with Season 1 Bride Cortney Hendrix, click here:
To read my interview with Monet Bell from Season 1, click here:
Photos courtesy of Dr. Joseph Cilona and FYI