One of the original therapists matching contestants on Married at First Sight Australia has quit, saying that the role of experts has become less important as the show grew in popularity.
Dr Trisha Stratford joined the Australian version of the hit reality show when it launched in 2015, but today confirmed her departure from the show, writing in an official statement that she was'taking a step back from the series to focus on her writing, research and neuropsychotherapy'.
However, in an exclusive interview with Newstalk ZB’s Simon Barnett and Phil Gifford, Dr Stratford says that she has a number of concerns about the direction the show is going in.
The show has pegged itself as a social experiment. The premise sees single people matched together by a team of experts, who then meet each other for the first time at the altar. The new couples take part in a commitment ceremony, and then see how long they last in their new guise as a couple.
Dr Stratford says that she still believes in the social experiment, but that the show, which is a ratings juggernaut in Australia, has taken a different path to what she signed up for.
“It became really clear to me over the last two seasons, but particularly the last season, that the type of people applying for the show were just becoming more and more outrageous.
“And it became very difficult to match people who were on the show for the wrong reasons.”
She says another concern was that the role of the experts in matching has become less important as the series has grown in popularity. Stratford says that her and her fellow experts had a big role in the bigger, but that their role has become “less and less” as the show progressed.
“I’m in my integrity and it’s just not working for me anymore. I don’t feel I have enough involvement in the matching, cause it kind of moved from matching to casting.
“I understand the network and the production company need to make a show that’s going to rate. There has to be a happy medium in there, and for me, it just swung too much the other way.”
Stratford says as the show became more outrageous, it attracted more outrageous people, and those type of peoples don’t cope well in situations like MAFS.
“Once the participants start doing really ridiculous things, everyone tries to up them, and it just gets out of control. And it damages them.”
She is also concerned that people applying are more focused on becoming influencers or stars then actually taking part in the show.
Stratford says that the network is aware of this issue around a lack of authentic contestants. Her hope is that they focus more on finding those genuine contestants, and that they put the mental health of contestants at the forefront of production.
A sex expert has been announced to replace Stratford on the show, but she does not know herself what sort of role that new expert will have.