Married At First Sight (MAFS) is horrendous at bringing couples together, but the show is especially bad at matching Black brides and grooms. I’m beginning to think that it’s either time for a Black woman to join the panel of matchmakers, or it’s time for Black women to stop watching — and joining — the show.
To be fair, the experts on the series don’t have a great track record of pairing people of any race, color, or creed in successful marriages. They have matched the commitment-phobic, recently widowed, overly expectant, and even the needlessly superficial on this show. But when they do so, there is great deal of effort to put in to place them with someone that kind of makes sense. However, it often seems like the experts just match the last two Black people standing without giving much thought to whether or not they are actually compatible.`And this has led to disastrous results.
In season 1, the experts matched Monet and Vaughn. They seemed to hit it off at the wedding, but things quickly began to fizzle between them. There were signs of trouble on the honeymoon, and finding a place of their own proved to be a challenge. When they did settle on a spot, it wasn’t a happy home because Vaughn revealed that Monet’s bubbly attitude got on his nerves. Her joyfulness was a problem for him, and they decided to split at the end of the experiment.
In season 3, Vanessa and Trey seemed to fair a little better. At least at first. They were the best match of all three couples that cycle, and their honeymoon phase rolled seamlessly into creating their little love nest. Unfortunately, her trust issues and doubts over Trey’s level of committment plagued the relationship. There were also doubts among fans about whether Trey was actually interested in being with a Black woman. It’s important to mention that because season 3 is when MAFS producers decided to put Black men who were applying to be part of the show on blast. Why? Experts had noticed a trend with the Black male applicants being very vocal about not wanting to be matched with Black women. Although Vanessa and Trey had their issues, they decided to remain married at the end of the experiment, but their union did not last until the season 3 reunion.
In season 5, Sheila and Nate were kind of a mess. They each seemed to place the same importance on marriage, committment, and traditional gender roles within in a marriage. On the other hand, they had very different ways of handling conflict. That became kind of an issue because they began butting heads on day 2 of the honeymoon. In terms of maturity, they were not equally yoked. As if that weren’t enough, Nate came with a little extra baggage: a younger brother that he insisted on moving into the house with his new wife. Sheila was down for the family, but this was never going to work. Although they opted to stay married at the end of the show, they officially divorced in December 2017 among rumors that Nate was still entertaining other women while married to his “queen.”
In season 6, we saw Shawniece and Jephte. Their honeymoon was over immediately after the reception. During their official honeymoon Jephte didn’t want much to do with Shawniece while she was fully invested in being a wife. Throughout the experiment, he was mean and downright disrespectful to her, all the while she was begging him to return her devotion. They had their ups, downs, and blowout fights all the way up to Decision Day, when they opted to stay together. Now, they’re having a baby, and all I can do is hope their relationship is better than what we saw on camera.
Now, in season 7, we have Tristan and Mia. There has only been one episode, but Tristan has already been super problematic. Why the experts chose to match a man who is a blatant color-struck body-shamer continues to confuse me. Oh that’s right, producers are in the business of drumming up drama, not matching compatible partners.
Now there has been a Black man on the expert panel since day one of the show. Pastor Calvin Roberson has been adding his two cents about who is going to be getting hitched and in season 5 he made it a point to announce that he wouldn’t stand for Black women being paired with Black men who were not interested in them. Although he feels a sense of responsibility for the success of all the marriages on the show, he’s taken a vested interest in coaching the Black couples. He’s the best person for the job on the current roster of experts, but I think it might be time for Lifetime to add another seat to the panel and fill it with a Black female love expert who can relate to the Black women of the cast who’ve had their own set of insecurities, trust issues, and more.
As a matter of fact, they could tap one of the experts that they used for Monet’s spinoff, #BlackLove. That series seemed to have a better relationship success rate, although that may have something to do with the fact that the stakes on that show aren’t as high. Still, as a dating expert, Damona Hoffman might have better input on finding better matches for Black applicants on MAFS.
Realistically, most viewers go into the show expecting a breakup because, well, it’s reality TV. The way in which the Black couples clash comes with an extra layer of awkward, though. Producers and experts need to put in a little more effort when matching their brown contestants because I’m not sure how many more spectacularly painful failures I can watch.