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Sophie’s Choice: Married at First Sight “A twisted take on modern love…” (TV Review)

Read my new Sophie’s Choice TV review on Channel 4’s new documentary series Married at First Sight:

Today, we live in a world where science and technology can do pretty much everything for us. You want Chinese food at 12am but don’t have any cash? No worries, you can pay online with your debit card and get your midnight snack delivered straight to your door. You feel ill? The NHS Choices website will diagnose you. You have a question? Google will answer it for you. I could go on.

We can seemingly get anything and everything we want with the help of science and technology. But can science really be used to find someone’s soul mate? Channel 4’s innovative new docuseries Married at First Sight aims to answer that very question.

Based on the show originating from Denmark, six (out of 1,500 applicants) carefully chosen British singletons endured a whole year of rigorous testing – including personality tests, DNA analysis and questionnaires – in order to scientifically match them with their ideal partner and prop them in front of an alter to marry upon their first meeting.

Now, of course, this sounds a bit mental – especially if you’re a traditionalist. But let’s think about it. Arranged marriages still happen daily in other cultures and while they are considered outdated and perhaps morally wrong – Married at First Sight is a kind of improved, revamped version. The usual anxiety and uncertainty of dating – in a world where you could reject your potential ideal match on Tinder simply because we’ve all got so fussy that we decide red hair is reason enough to swipe left – and all responsibility is passed over to professionals including psychologists and relationship experts.

Realistically, if an expert approached you and said that they have found someone who has been scientifically chosen to be your perfect mate – how many of us would be curious to meet that mystery person? I’m guessing the majority.

In episode one of this controversial series, we met fiery, independent businesswoman Emma Rathbone and the shy and reserved James Ord-Hume who are both looking for love in between their hectic careers and busy social lives. As the couple are matched, we get to watch the nervous-excitement bubble as they start telling their families and making preparations for their big day.

The documentary drags the viewer in as we eagerly anticipate the couple’s meeting to see if sparks will fly and chemistry will develop between the paper-perfect couple. But alas – we have to wait until next week to see their wedding day. Damn cliff-hangers!

A lot of viewers have said that the social experiment is like Tinder being taken too far – which I suppose it is to an extent. Whether the marriage aspect of the experiment is truly necessary, I’m a bit sceptical. Why not just introduce these ‘perfect’ couples and observe their progression into romantic relationships? In a society where many people still believe that homosexuals ruin the sanctity of marriage (a ridiculous, insensitive and offensive argument) – should we really be socially accepting of an experiment that sets people up to marry someone they’ve never even met?

Making two people marry at first sight is either going to put so much pressure on the couple that they’ll barely be able to breathe or it will push them to take that leap of faith that could lead to true love.

Who knows? Decades from now, scientific matching could be the norm. Maybe in 50 odd years, there will be no such thing as meet cutes or dating or even Tinder. Maybe everyone will simply be matched to their ideal spouse using these futuristic methods. Science has changed every aspect of our lives – why not our love lives too?

The crazy thing is – this experiment will work for some people. And for others, it will be a disaster of tempestuous proportions. And I can’t wait to tune in again and see the Bridezilla drama unfold.

Married at First Sight is a twisted take on modern love that reels the viewer in like a fish caught on a line, making us truly ponder on the thought of science potentially being able to create the perfect couple and, by extension, the perfect family unit.

The next episode of Married at First Sight airs on Thursday, 9pm on Channel 4.

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