married at first sight uk australia difference

We Watched ‘MAFS UK’ & Now Understand Why Brits Are Obsessed With The Aussie Version

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An unexpected outcome from the pandemic has been the Australian series of Married at First Sight winning over a legion of British and Irish fans, who are bored being stuck at home in lockdown and looking for a reprieve.

The season which made Martha Kalifatidis, Cyrell Paule, and Jessika Power all household names has just finished airing in the UK. Yep, the infamous wine-throwing scene just happened at the Season 6 reunion. Absolutely iconic scenes.

The season aired back in 2019 in Australia, but its stars have found themselves in the spotlight once more, as the series has become nothing short of a phenomenon all the way across the other side of the world.

UK fans are obsessed with the Australian reality show and they reckon it puts their own version to shame.

The Aussie version is so wildly popular that the UK series has just recruited one of our experts, Mel Schilling, to join their show. The next season will reportedly be based on the Australian format, in an effort to seize upon the popularity of our version. The hysteria our series inspired has even led to The Sun publishing a story claiming Australia has surpassed the US and the UK as the reality TV kings, in a column titled “Reality TV is better Down Under.”

We are clearly doing something right, which made me wonder: how did the UK format get it so wrong?

While I’ve watched the US series of MAFS before, I have never seen a single episode of the UK version. I had no clue what to expect. The series has been running for five seasons, so I decided to view a few episodes of the 2020 season and let me tell you, I could not believe how different it was.

I’m sorry British and Irish fans, y’all have been deprived.

Here are the main differences between the UK and Australian versions of Married at First Sight:

The UK version marries only a few couples

After watching the first episode and being introduced to two couples, I expected the second episode to introduce more couples, but they never came. I repeat, the new couples NEVER came. For the 2020 season, the show only featured two couples, and previous seasons have only seen between two and four couples get married.

This is simply not enough couples!! The format reminds me of the early days of MAFS in Australia which cast fewer contestants, but while our series has evolved over the years, the UK’s version is still stuck in a rut.

married at first sight australia uk difference

The episodes are much shorter and the season only runs for a handful of eps

Each episode only lasts for 45-minutes and tbh, not much happens. While Australia’s series is jam-packed with awkward dates, bizarre tasks, and messy drama, the UK adaption is focused on the couples going about their daily lives. Another difference is that there are only a few episodes each season, with most seasons concluding after four episodes.

The series feels more like a documentary told through short instalments than a reality show.

There are new experts every season

Unlike our MAFS trio of experts who (well, aside from Trisha) have returned every year, the UK version has different experts every season — and they’re called ‘matchmakers’ rather than experts.

Another bit of trivia: the matchmakers attend the weddings and the weddings are legit. Unlike the Aussie series where the nuptials are faked for TV, these strangers actually get married! It’s a whole new world.

There’s not much dramatic music

Something I immediately noticed when watching the UK show was: where was the dramatic music? Aside from a few random piano keys softly playing in the background, the show lacked the rousing orchestra in romantic moments, or the dread-filled violin strings which often soundtrack some of the arguments.

Dramatic music truly makes MAFS, and without it, the UK show comes across as just one-note and dull.

There’s no hen’s nights, buck’s nights, or dinner parties

Fans of Aussie MAFS know that the dinner parties are event television; the dinner parties are the reason to watch. But on the UK version, there’s nothing that cultivates drama between the contestants whatsoever. The different couples never meet on the show, and their stories are told in isolation from each other.

This makes for a very different viewing experience aka it’s boring-as-shit.

The UK contestants are very normal

I will say that the UK version feels much more wholesome, as the people are just normal, everyday folk. It’s clear most of the contestants are looking for love and haven’t just joined the show to become influencers — which can’t be said for most of Australia’s MAFS cast.

Along with casting normal people, the whole series feels much more grounded in real life — and sadly, real life can be boring to watch. There are no exotic honeymoons overseas, there isn’t a glossy apartment block that all the contestants move into. Instead, the couples move into their actual homes and try to resume their normal lives, going to work, and seeing family/friends.

The UK series is even less diverse than Australia’s version

This was a shock to me, as I assumed you can’t get any less diverse than Australian reality TV, but we’re actually are strides ahead of the UK. As I was scrolling through all the past couples on the UK series, it was almost exclusively just white contestants.

Both our series and the UK’s have a long way to go in casting contestants who reflect each nation’s diversity.

married at first sight uk australia difference

The UK version hasn’t created many successful marriages

If you thought our track record was bad, the UK’s is even worse. Prior to the 2020 season, the UK version had never created a marriage that didn’t end in separation or divorce. Thankfully, this changed last year with Michelle Walder and Owen Jenkins staying married since getting hitched on the show.

Meanwhile, Australia’s series has created three long-lasting relationships: Erin Bateman and Bryce Mohr, Martha Kalifatidis and Michael Brunelli, and Cam Merchant and Jules Robinson. As we know, Jules and Cam even had an official wedding and welcomed the very first MAFS baby. This being said, our series has formed many more matches than the UK, so our success rate is nothing to boast about.

Our drama on the other hand, is something that can fill us all with pride.