'Married At First Sight' Couples Aren't Paid To Get Married — They're In This For The Right Reasons
Married At First Sight returned for its second season in March. The whole premise of the series, that couples are documented as they are matched by experts and get married literally at first sight, is terrifying to me. It also begs the question — do couples on Married At First Sight get paid to get married? These are modern men and women that we're talking about here, not Cleopatra or fictional characters like Sansa Stark or something out of Jane Austen where marriage was largely tied to a person's livelihood.
In an interview with Reality Blurred, producer Chris Coelen revealed that participants receive “...a nothing stipend. We did not want people who were motivated by the wrong things.” Depending on how you interpret that, they are being paid very little if anything at all.
This is good, because otherwise that would be weird, right? Though arranged marriages do exist in our world, they don't come with salaries and residuals. Dowries still exist as well, but most likely not with couples like the ones showcased on Married At First Sight. We are dealing with a very Western view of heteronormative relationships and marriage.
The closest thing I can think of in my own white, middle class experience to a bride and groom getting paid to get married is the large cost of the ceremony itself, which is often "expected" to be provided by the extended families. Not to mention engagement, shower and wedding gifts. I suppose folks are being paid to get married in kitchenware and other goods — not that I'm complaining. It was also their choice to marry that person, so my metaphor doesn't exactly stand up.
What's important, in the realm of this show, is that the couples are clearly in this experiment for the right reasons, whatever those may be. Maybe they got fed up with seeing handfuls of new friends announce their engagements on Facebook every week. I understand that angst.
Entertainment Tonight looked into the casting process for Married At First Sight and it is no joke. Participants work with the experts to find their eventual spouse. Executive producer Sean Dean explained some of the many practices that the single hopefuls go through while they are being matched, including a hours of psychological analysis and research.
"The matchmaking process is incredibly intense ... The very first thing we do is hold group workshops ... Within the participant agreement there is a section on prenups, which essentially says that if this doesn't work out, the participants will leave the marriage with what they entered into it."
Frankly, I'm thankful for the care that these producers are taking. Marriage is a serious institution. It's not easy to get out of once you're in. I'm glad that the couples entering into this agreement on the show are clearly not doing it for the money, or the fame, or the applause.
On the other hand, it does seem a little odd to me that these reality show participants are not being paid like actors to show up to work, appear on a show, and release their image to national television. While it may be a good call from a moral point of view, isn't television still a business? Still, if the intentions of the couples worry you on this show, stand down. They're in it for the long haul, not a big haul!
Image: A&E Networks; Giphy