Don't Watch That, Watch This

What Is Married At First Sight? Glad You Asked

These two appeared on season five of Married at First Sight. Ah, new love.
These two appeared on season five of Married at First Sight. Ah, new love. courtesy Lifetime

You read about it scrolling through social media. You've heard Sally at the water cooler talking about it. You aren't sure what's going on, but you're intrigued. Not intrigued enough to Google the answer, but intrigued enough to click on this article, hoping some poor newsperson will explain it to you quickly and simply.

Here you go.

What is Married at First Sight?
It's a reality show on Lifetime in which experts pair up people to get married. They first see each other when the bride walks down the aisle. They spend five weeks together, and at the end of the five weeks, they decide if they want to stay married or get a divorce.

Why is the Dallas Observer writing about it?
The show is coming to Dallas.

What do you mean coming to Dallas?
Every season is shot in a new city. First season was New York; last season was Boston. This season is Dallas. All of the participants are from Dallas because marrying a stranger is hard enough. No need to make it a long-distance marriage to a stranger.

Oh, God. Why Dallas?
Dr. Jessica Griffin, the psychologist on the show who helps pair the couples, tells us Dallas was chosen because we have a lot of single people.

"Our impression was that there were a lot of singles who were struggling in Dallas but really looking for love but just not able to find the relationship that would last," Griffin says. "We also found in Dallas that there’s a strong sense of family values and more of an emphasis on the commitment of marriage and people who truly were looking for love and not people who necessarily wanted to be on a television show."

"Our impression was that there were a lot of singles who were struggling in Dallas but really looking for love but just not able to find the relationship that would last." – Dr. Jessica Griffin

tweet this
Does she have anything else to say about Dallas?
Yeah, she does. She worked on the last season of MAFS when it was in Boston, and she says there are some differences between the two cities.

"Differences in probably hairstyles and cowboys and stuff for sure," she says. "There’s definitely some cultural differences as far as personality types. In Boston, people tend to be a little brusker and a little harder to get to know, and I found in Dallas, people were so friendly and outgoing and really welcoming — not that it’s not like that in New England, but I think it takes people a little longer to get to know versus in Dallas."

So we're nice?

Is Dallas really that desperate for love?
Not sure. Griffin says more than 50,000 people applied for this season.

Oh, my God.

What is the audition process like? Asking for a friend.
Griffin says it’s a comprehensive process, including a series of background checks, psychological evaluations, interviews, meetups with friends and family, and home visits.

How long does that take?
Several months.

Can they really find my soulmate? I mean, my friend's soulmate.
Not sure. Four out of 18 couples from past seasons of the show are still married.

But it's a TV show. Wouldn't it be more entertaining if they matched couples who fought all the time?
Wow, glad you asked.

"This isn’t that type of show," Griffin says. "I totally appreciate the question and I get it, but this isn’t that type of show at all. This is really a reality docu-series, so we are truly, truly looking for people who want love and who have not been able to find that, and I'm a psychologist by trade. I sort of fell into the television business, and this show is why I agreed to do it is because it does have a lot of heart.

"There’s nothing that’s manufactured. With more traditional-type reality shows, there’s sometimes that element, but here it’s not like that at all. Marrying a stranger is dramatic enough, so there’s not a need to have to do that. We actually work hard to not have people who just want to be a television. There are a lot of different shows they could go on if they just wanted to be on television. This is not the show for them."

Does Dr. Griffin ever feel pressure hooking these people up? I mean, one time I hooked up my two friends, and now they hate each other and it's awful.
"I'm so glad you asked that question because I have lost sleep many nights hoping we made the right choice for our couples," Griffin says. "They are real people, and we’ve gotten to know them and get attached to them, and we want them to find love just as much as they do. So when they are doing really well and when they are struggling in their marriages, I take it personally and professionally, but also just as a human being who cares about people and their happiness and wants to make sure we do the right thing by them, and it is a tremendous amount of pressure."

Sounds like it.

When does this air? Again, asking for a friend.
8 p.m. July 10 on Lifetime. Tell your friend hi.
KEEP THE DALLAS OBSERVER FREE... Since we started the Dallas Observer, it has been defined as the free, independent voice of Dallas, and we'd like to keep it that way. With local media under siege, it's more important than ever for us to rally support behind funding our local journalism. You can help by participating in our "I Support" program, allowing us to keep offering readers access to our incisive coverage of local news, food and culture with no paywalls.
Paige Skinner has written for the Dallas Observer since 2014.
Contact: Paige Skinner