The premise is that a group of “experts” – a sex therapist, a sociologist, a psychologist and a spiritual advisor audition several hundred singles to see if they will participate in an “experiment” where the experts pick a spouse for them out of the pool of candidates who auditioned and were photogenic enough to get into the second round.
Out of 100 “finalists” they found six people that they formed into three couples.
The couples meet each other, literally, at the alter. They are married on their first date. The next morning they are whisked away on their honeymoon. After five or so days on a vacation (paid for by the show), they return home and set up house together. After five weeks of getting know each other and trying to shoehorn their lives together they have to decide if they are going to stay married or get a divorce.
What I find interesting is that this is how millions of people have married for hundred of years. The “experts” of the past were family or clergy or paid matchmakers or astrologers or slave owners or even royal courts and diplomats. Some traditions allow the potential couple to meet. But many traditions do not. Sometimes, because the bride or groom traveled a distance for the wedding, it was impractical for there to be a courtship period. Often it was that the couple had no choice, so there is no reason for them to “date” before they married. And the option to divorce was historically, rarely available.
Look at King Henry the VIII of England. His first wife, Katherine of Aragon, was a stranger until they wed. And he had to start a whole new religion to get divorced from her. They were married as Catholics. When the pope would not grant him a divorce from the Spanish princess, he tossed off the yoke of the Catholic Church, and married the next five wives with the blessing of clergy he controlled. Of course they preferred that the Henry be widowed rather than divorced, and it was often summarily arranged.
To be fair, most weddings are not royal weddings. Which means that they are more likely to take place closer to home from a pool of potential spouses that are more likely to be known to you. Very often the spouses were related in some way. After all if you have land or a business you want to keep in the family, why not marry your daughter to your cousin’s son? Or expand your holdings by hitching your son to the neighbor who only has the one daughter. Then your son will inherit her father’s land.
While you hope that the family and matchmakers have your interest in mind, they certainly have the interest of the community and your families’ business interests in mind.
Which brings me back to the show. They gave the participant pool batteries of tests, and interviews.
They seemed to have their interests at heart as they matched them up.
Of course there are cameras and camera operators intruding on private moments. Arriving at the wedding suite, first kiss on the honeymoon, all of the outings. And constant interviews about how things are going. So, no pressure.
Like with many “reality” shows they found people who wanted to perform; a wrestler they married to the make-up artist/ burlesque dancer. And even the software salesman did a set of stand-up at a comedy club for his bride.
Marriage as social experiment, performance art and reality programming; it seems that everything old is new again.