How Married at First Sight Australia has changed over the years

You won't believe how different it used to be!
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When we watched last year’s season of Married at First Sight Australia we didn’t think it could get any more explosive.

The Dean/Tracey/Davina love triangle was ratings gold, and viewers in their droves couldn’t get enough of the drama. But somehow the MAFS producers outdid themselves this year.

There wasn’t just one love triangle – there were two. First, we watched in amazement as Sam and Ines began an affair (ending, as these things tend to, in tears). And we then couldn’t believe our eyes when Jessika set her sights on Dan, keeping husband Mick in the experiment just so she could pursue a relationship with the single father.

It wasn’t to be, of course, and the pair broke up after a drama-filled reunion. Not, however, before cementing themselves in reality TV infamy.

The evolution of the experiment shows that producers have set out each season to up the ante. And a look into the archives reveals just how different the show used to be. In fact, it’s almost unrecognisable.

For those of you who haven’t been invested since the start, let’s take a walk down memory lane.

Season One

The entire format of 2015’s season one of Married at First Sight was completely different to what we know now.

In fact, the first season only had four couples and ran for six episodes – a far cry from the 41 episodes we just watched (some would say endured) in season six.

And while the premise was the same – get married, go on a honeymoon, move in together, and make a decision – it was without the bells and whistles we’re used to now.

While the couples involved all met each other in episode four, there were no drama filled dinner parties or lavish vow renewals.

In fact, the final vows used to be called decision day, where the couple met with the experts in a church, talked about their experience, and announced whether or not they were planning on staying together.

The season one finale was held in a church, and couples made their decision in front of the experts.

When it comes to the experts, there was one big difference. John Aiken and Trisha Stratford were there, but there was no Mel Schilling – the third expert was psychologist Sabina Read.

Season one did produce a success story – Zoe Hendrix and Alex Garner found love and welcomed their daughter Harper-Rose the following year. Sadly, they announced their split in 2018.

Zoe and Alex were the enduring couple from season one but sadly announced their split last year.

Season Two

By this time, MAFS producers and the TV network knew they were onto a winner.

Season two aired in 2016 and was reasonably close in format to season one, however it ran for seven episodes rather than six. Each episode went for under an hour, with the exception of the penultimate episode which ran for 85 minutes.

While the couples still faced the experts (goodbye Sabina, hello Mel Schilling) on decision day, the location had moved from the church to a more relaxed setting – the current Balmain studio.

The biggest success story from season two was Erin Bateman and Bryce Mohr, who are still together to this day.

Erin and Bryce announce their decision to stay together.

We started to see the drama ramp up in this season, however, with the introduction of the dinner party. All couples met at a getaway in the Blue Mountains, but each had to cook a course themselves, rather than just turning up and being offered up the endless stream of food and drinks we see now.

Claire Verrall and Jono Pitman were the most controversial couple of the season, with Jono famously uttering the line on his wedding day “She’s not what I ordered.”

Claire wasn’t what Jono ordered.

Season Three

In season three, producers introduced one more couple, taking the number of participants from eight to ten. There was also the addition of Australia’s first ever gay couple – Craig and Andy.

As the number of couples crept up, so did the episode count – but only to eight. The rest of the show’s format remained the same.

While Craig and Andy didn’t last the distance – breaking up before ‘decision day’ along with another couple, Jess and Dave, who also called it quits halfway through, the other three couples decided to stay together at the end but have all since broken up.

Craig and Andy wed and honeymooned in Queenstown.

Season Four

Season four is where things started to heat up. The TV network knew they had a bonafide hit on their hands and the entire game changed.

They doubled the number of couples – this time we saw 10 strangers marry at first sight – and the episode count for the 2017 season skyrocketed to 29.

We started to see the first hint of a cheating scandal, where two participants were caught texting people who were not their partners. And it stemmed from a conversation at a dinner party, which gave producers the winning formula: dinner parties and alcohol lead to couples getting flirty. Which in turn leads to ratings gold.

Another ratings winner? The introduction of commitment ceremonies. The first commitment ceremony of the season is where the texting scandal came to light, revealing that two of the participants, Scarlett and Jonathan, had been texting each other after swapping numbers at the dinner party.

Watch: Cheryl confronts Jonathan about texting Scarlett. Article continues below.

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That wasn’t the end of the drama, however, because we then saw our first couple swap. Well, more of a re-coupling, really, because after text-gate, Cheryl ended her relationship with Jonathan and asked if she could re-enter the experiment with jilted groom Andrew ‘Jonesy’ Johns, who was ditched by his bride Lauren on their wedding night.

All of this has shades of what we’ve just seen play out in season six with Jessika and Dan re-entering the experiment as a couple after things didn’t work out with their original matches.

After the final vows there were two more episodes, catching up with the couples post-experiment (something that has since been dropped from the format) – before the introduction of the reunion episode – something we’ve seen play out to great affect since.

Season four saw another first – a double wedding, where twins Sharon and Michelle Marsh were married to Nick Furphy and Jesse Konstantinoff.

Double trouble as Michelle and Jesse and Sharon and Nick marry at the same time.

Season Five

Season five in brought a new twist – viewer favourite and unlucky-in-love groom John Robertson (who was disastrously matched with Deborah in season five after Deb was bitterly disappointed that John wasn’t “Polynesian”), was brought back to find love for a second time.

And he almost did – finding a great match in Melissa Walsh. But sadly, they called time on their relationship a few months after the show aired.

John was brought back for a second chance at love, but sadly it didn’t work out with Melissa.

The 2018 instalment saw 11 couples wed and 32 episodes in total. Producers had a formula that worked, and the dinner party and commitment ceremony combination of season four delivered drama, drama and more drama. The whole season can be summed up in two words: couple swapping.

Not only did we see Davina Rankin and Dean Wells got cosy at the dinner parties and on a date behind their partners’ backs, we saw more re-coupling after the experiment ended.

Season six spawned a number of spin-off couples, and the final dinner party was the most explosive we had seen to date as two new couples debuted their romance – Sean and Tracey and Troy and Carly.

Mel Schilling’s reaction when Sean and Tracey kissed at the reunion episode perfectly summed up how we were all feeling.

Season Six

And that, of course, leads us to the MAFS we know and love today. Bigger and better than ever, we saw a total of 13 couples over the course of 41 episodes.

10 couples were originally matched before we saw a world first, with two “intruder couples” married part-way through the experiment. An “experiment within the experiment,” as the experts described it.

Neither of the new couples – Billy and Susie and Dan and Tamara – worked out.

We did, of course, see the biggest success story of all the seasons to date, with Cameron Merchant dropping to one knee at the vow renewal ceremony and proposing to Jules Robinson.

They’re already planning a wedding for this year. All going to plan, we might soon get to see our first real-life MAFS wedding.

Watch: The best MAFS reactions of all time.

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