02 June, 2023
Married at First Sight trainwreck ends as family friendly LEGO Masters rebuilds faith in reality TV


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The Logie-winning host of LEGO Masters and his TV companion, The Brickman, are set to become our favourite on-air couple once again, as they navigate their way through another season of talented Lego builders.

Hamish Blake and Ryan McNaught will bid a sad farewell to their controversial reality TV stablemate, Married at First Sight, and its group of tragically mismatched couples, as the show prepares to take over the crucial 7.30pm time slot on the Nine Network.

You couldn’t get two more extreme shows on the one network.

Yet somehow … they both work wonders

Both have been huge ratings winners and global hits, with seasons past getting traction on UK and US networks.

On one recent Tuesday night, MAFS, in its 10th season, attracted 893,000 viewers across the metropolitan cities and was the third most-watched show after the two lead-in Seven news bulletins.

It filled the No.1 demographic for viewers aged from 18 to 54 years old.


Let’s see what our real celebrities think.

Grammy-award winning singer-songwriter, Sam Smith, told his 7.8 million Twitter followers in 2021: “Married at first sight Australia is incredible television”.

What about English actress and filmmaker Emerald Fennell (Promising Young Woman), while waiting to hear whether she scored an Oscar nomination?

“I think I did what any sensible person would do: I watched about six hours of Married at First Sight Australia to take my mind off it,” she told the New York Times.

Media professor at the University of Sydney, Catharine Lumby, who has written extensively on reality TV, reckons part of the MAFS appeal is watching “conflicts in relationships unravel”.

She said viewers were aware “that a lot of the conflict is manufactured or constructed by smart editing … but [they] can get emotionally involved if someone on the show is sympathetic and seems genuine.

“It’s a mix of genuine interest in the personalities and a desire to be entertained.”

MAFS: It’s all about the risk and the brand

The men and women who entered this year’s show were aged in their 20s to 40s with faces that liked the camera, and were most likely single.

Some genuinely wanted to find a mate, others were in it to build their own profile to score a bit part on Home and Away, become an influencer or just move up a peg from every day mundanity.

All except one had the ability to turn on so many tears, feel regularly broken and torn or just, well, feel gaslighted and manipulated.

So what will happen to this batch of reality TV stars after April 3?

This season featured 12 couples, six couples quit and six couples will deliver their final decisions about continuing with the relationship outside “the experiment” on national television.

There’s no prize money as such (participants receive an allowance).

No trophy.

Perth-based Jason Steele, founder and CEO of brand strategy and influencer marketing company, Hello Mother, has hands on experience working with reality TV stars and knows exactly when to grab the popcorn to “watch the destruction unfold”.

He’s worked with some Real Housewives, Mob Wives, Dance mums, Jersey Shore and Geordie Shore divas.

“The thing with reality stars is that there are three categories they fall into after finding fame, and in my opinion it all links in with their initial intentions for finding “fame”.

“The ones that disappear, one hit wonders and the ones that understand they are a ‘brand’ and ‘business’,” he says.

The one hit wonders often crash and burn.

“The only thing people know them for is potentially a hot body, a big ego and scandal. All of which isn’t compatible with long term success in the public eye.

“Initially they’re often hard to work with in a partnership sense because they have an inflated view of their worth and fame.

“As their immediate popularity fizzles out, they become desperate and turn into the generic ex-reality star product pusher,” he says.

“In an online world, everyone can become a celebrity, but they’re not always equipped to deal with the increased scrutiny or know how to behave.

“If you’re on social media, you’re in the public eye, and this brings with it new pressures outside of the usual concerns of running a brand (be it personal brand or a business),” he says.

LEGO Masters: Still risky, but more about group hugs

A look back at LEGO Masters’ ratings on one night last year, it was the No.2 entertainment program with 1,036,000 viewers in an episode on May 11.

The contestants are selected and paired together to build something meaningful, technically complicated and theatrical, and fun to look at.

The cast for this year’s season five have been revealed and there’s eight pairs who will build stuff over several episodes, with a few stars returning for another build.

There’s a winning team, respect and $100,000 prize money.

They wear warm, friendly clothes, hug each other and are smart problem solvers.

Former Lego contestant Fleur Watkins was paired up with someone she didn’t know on Season 3 in 2020.

“As women both in our 40s, both mothers, we had an unspoken agreement that whatever the challenge we would back each other and strive to do our best,” she recounts on the bricknerd.com.au website.

“Never in a million years would I have thought it would be LEGO that would bring me back to myself and reconnect me with the artistic person I had inside me all the time.

“I found that the more I explored creativity through LEGO the happier I was, and it ultimately made me a better parent, while also being an activity that we can really enjoy together.”

She said The Brickman cried when he eliminated them and the group keep in touch: “[We] also have become friends with contestants for the other seasons that have aired in Australia, it’s lovely to have a shared experience that we all bond over.

“Some of my closest friends came out of LEGO masters.”

Same as MAFS … but different.

“People who nerd out over Lego – and why wouldn’t you? – are probably a very different demographic to people who like watching other people cry and throw wine at dinner parties,” adds Professor Lumby.

And what would she prefer to watch?

“Definitely MAFS. I spend my days being a nerd. So at night I like to pick up tips on how to win arguments with my husband,” she quips.

Married at First Sight finale on April 3; LEGO Masters Australia premieres on April 10 on Nine and 9Now

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