A new TV programme where complete strangers marry each other and then decide whether or not to divorce five weeks later has been described as denigrating marriage.
Married at First Sight aired on Channel 4 for the first time last night, with psychologists, an anthropologist and a Church of England minister pairing up individuals with the help of DNA testing and questionnaires.
The Christian Institute has said it is “horrible for broadcasters to be experimenting with people’s lives in this way”.
Matt Baylis, reviewing the programme for the Daily Express, said it was exploitative, while some viewers commenting on Twitter criticised the programme for normalising divorce. Others described it as “ridiculous” and “a nightmare of a show”.
Channel 4 last year defended the programme as a “celebration of marriage”.
The pairs only meet each other on their wedding day when they enter a legally-binding marriage before going on a honeymoon and deciding in the coming weeks whether to stay together or divorce.
Race to the bottom
Simon Calvert, The Christian Institute’s Deputy Director for Public Affairs, said: “It’s disappointing that producers seem to be in this constant race to the bottom and this is just another idea that denigrates marriage.”
Last year, when Channel 4 announced it was airing the show, the Marriage Foundation said: “The producers of this show seem to have little concept of how commitment works.”
“Instead of getting married with clarity and intent about their future, these couples will still be in a relationship that is riddled with ambiguity”, the group added.
Frank and Pia met through the Danish version of Married at First Sight and are now divorced.
Frank said it went wrong as soon the cameras were switched off, while Pia said she found the experience “unreal, uncomfortable and unsafe”.
Another couple, who married on the US format, divorced after six weeks with Monet Bell saying she and her partner had “very little in common and spent a lot of the six weeks yelling at each other”.
However, they claim they do not regret their involvement with the show.