CRITICS of Married At First Sight would argue Malcolm Turnbull and Tony Abbott singing Kumbaya over a tofu salad is more likely than anyone finding lasting love on reality TV.
Last year’s series jettisoned the notion that the “social experiment” was about matching people based on compatibility.
Instead the show’s sex-fuelled drama was amplified to 11 as couples fought, back-stabbed, cheated, and even swapped, to the delight of 2 million Australian TV viewers, who tuned in to the chaos and made MAFS the highest-rating show of 2018.
Love and marriage became a mere afterthought.
None of last year’s couples have endured, with most narrowly lasting longer than Britney Spears’ infamous 55-hour marriage to Jason Alexander.
Some of last year’s contestants like Perth’s Tracey Jewel were trolled relentlessly on social media to the point she overdosed in a Berlin hotel following a break-up with a boyfriend from outside MAFS.
While the likes of Brisbane’s Davina Rankin and Newcastle-bred Dean Wells copped a torrent of abuse after they became the show’s “bad guys” following their “extramarital” hook-up.
But that hasn’t stopped Newcastle 28-year-old Nic Jovanovic from applying and being chosen from 10,000 nominees to appear on season six of MAFS.
The likable CrossFit-loving electrician works on coal trains in the Hunter Valley and it was one evening during night shift that the idea to apply for MAFS was sparked.
“On one of our dinner breaks we were watching the show last season and a few of the boys were like ‘you’d be great on that, it’s a good way to meet someone’,” Jovanovic says.
It’s one thing to joke about it with workmates in the lunch room, it’s another to actually go through with exposing yourself to the pitfalls of reality TV. So why do it?
“Unfortunately I got a little unwell and I got diagnosed with a form of testicle cancer [four years ago] and it put me back and made me question where my life’s at and what I want to do,” he says.
“That put things into perspective and I wanted to travel and wanted to experience life a lot more before I settled down and I got to a stage when I thought about applying, and I was at a good stage in my life, and thought why not?”
Most people believe fame is the prime motivation for MAFS contestants, and after watching an advanced screening of episode one, it’s a view that’s difficult to argue against.
However, Jovanovic denies that’s the case for him.
“It’s funny a lot of people think that,” he says. “I got to know everyone on the show and everyone involved and it’s funny that a lot of people think they’re paid actors or they’re only on there for one thing.
“When you see the emotions that come out of people and how they interact with the person they’ve been paired with and their feelings involved, you can’t make that up.
“For me it’s definitely about finding love. It’s a weird opportunity, so why not take it and have a crack.”
Jovanovic knows he’s life is about the change overnight. Already this week he was shocked when a woman noticed him from MAFS publicity photographs when he was putting petrol in his car in Newcastle.
But not all public attention is positive. MAFS contestants have been cruelly dissected and trolled on social media. Jovanovic says he’s prepared for any backlash.
“I’ve got no problem if someone gets on there and starts talking shit and I have to block them or delete them,” he says. “I’m not really fussed on how many followers I have or followers I get.
“I don’t need negativity in my life and I don’t think anyone else on the experiment does either.”
In the past reality TV shows have been criticised for clever editing to portray certain people in line with story lines.
The MAFS dinner parties, where the couples are liquored up and thrown together, have been an explosive source of the show’s drama. Jovanovic was mindful of what he said while being filmed and doesn’t expect anything scandalous to emerge.
“Everyone has a choice,” he says. “No one is forced to say anything, we’re not forced to do anything. Everyone has a choice on the show. However people are portrayed is probably pretty spot on to how they are as a person.”
Married At First Sight begins Monday at 7.30pm on NBN. The Newcastle Herald is owned by Nine Entertainment.