We say ‘I do’ to the return of MAFS NZ (Image: Alex Casey/Tina Tiller)
We say ‘I do’ to the return of MAFS NZ (Image: Alex Casey/Tina Tiller)

Pop CultureMay 26, 2024

Reiki on a guinea pig and whatnot: Our first reactions to Married at First Sight NZ

We say ‘I do’ to the return of MAFS NZ (Image: Alex Casey/Tina Tiller)
We say ‘I do’ to the return of MAFS NZ (Image: Alex Casey/Tina Tiller)

Fresh off the back of episode one of Married at First Sight NZ’s new season, Alex Casey and Tara Ward fire up the chat to dissect what the hell we all just watched. 

Alex Casey: Tara, are you still screaming? I’m screaming. 

Tara Ward: I started screaming the moment I saw Michael’s back tattoo. I squawked hysterically when Madeleine uttered the words “meat stick” a mere seven minutes into the season. I yowled until my ears bled when Michael gushed about “dumping your ejaculate”, before finally shrieking and keeling over at the incredible sight of Madeleine performing Reiki on her guinea pig. What the heck was all that? 

AC: Just an absolutely roaring start to Married at First Sight NZ, a deeply cursed franchise that truly was left with no other option but to lean into this exact energy. It’s got the dorkiness of Come Dine With Me and the wry nods of The Apprentice Aotearoa, while still somehow making me well the hell up at that damn slo-mo montage of Kara getting ready for her wedding. I was deeply concerned about the tiny cast and lacklustre promos, but episode one was a true delight. 

TW: It was, as guinea pig-healing bride Madeleine declared, a “vibe, vibe, vibe, vibe, vibe, vibe”. After this stonker of a premiere, I am thrilled about what lies ahead. Such brides! Such grooms! Let’s take a straightener to our chin hair and discuss these participants with the rabid enthusiasm of a man wearing shorts and a fur coat to the local pie shop. 

Just a man, standing in front of a pie shop (Screengrab)

AC: First of all, whoever composed that shot deserves a New Zealand Television Award, a BAFTA and a Nobel Peace Prize. We must discuss Michael, who huffed and puffed and blew us all away (aka, made a very short “Divine Man” robe) on The Apprentice Aotearoa back in 2021. It was so good to get a much-needed update on his ejaculate valves, endogenous DMTs and chi levels (all still going strong). How about that moment the producer asked him if he was spiritual and the heavens shone on his scalp? A Divine Man indeed. 

TW: I thought his cushion game was very strong. 

Divine (Screengrab)

AC: I also am obsessed with his assessment of the “four healthy men” on the stag night. Which leads me to the next healthy man… Piripi, the brewer from Hamilton! Two kids from a previous relationship, loves to push a big old tyre around and loves to smash a lager (responsibly). I coveted his chic oversized coat, was charmed by how he was “nervous as balls”, and am deeply intrigued by the fact he appears to cut his luscious curls over the course of the series. A Samson and Delilah situation? Only Michael’s endogenous DMT knows for sure. 

TW: James and Nathaniel were certainly the quieter of the four grooms, but given their first meeting involved sharing their sexual proclivities and some extreme heavy breathing, it’s no wonder. I did enjoy the unexpected slo-mo dance sequence during the grooms’ espresso martini workshop while the poor brides got absolutely drenched on a boat. Dance like nobody’s watching, breathe like nobody’s dumping their ejaculate.

AC: It was definitely the most horned-up debut in the history of MAFS, which wasn’t helped by a very raunchy round of “would you rather”. I also really loved how much fun they are having with the editing – whether it was including John Aiken’s question to production about the term “the ick” or the supercut of Nathaniel saying “whatnot” 400 times. It has a much more relaxed and light-hearted vibe, while still delivering the emotional hammer moments of Kara talking about losing her brother, and Steph’s crushing analogy about the search for love being like musical chairs (“everyone sat down and there’s no chairs left”). 

TW: Yes, that poignant shot of Steph standing alone on the beach got me so good, I almost needed to hug a guinea pig. There was a lot of beach in this episode, a lot of jogging and a lot of Magnum ice creams, the traditional food of love. Then everyone went to Vanuatu to get married, and Kara made a brownie that said “wifey for lifey” on it. 

Wifeys for Lifeys? (Screengrab)

AC: I adored how they were like “IN A WORLD FIRST FOR THE FRANCHISE…. not a soul in Christendom is coming to your wedding” as if they are on the forefront of scientific discovery and not just trying to save a few more Magnums and meat sticks. At one point John Aiken even said “we know for a fact that the Married at First Sight experiment works” which is a statement that feels like it needs a citation and a peer review, or at least an asterisk next to it. 

TW: That peer review may come from Wifey for Lifey and Michael’s Beard, aka the first couple to be matched in this blessed union of hearts, minds and meat sticks. Michael says he’s “looking for a queen”, but I wonder, does he even have time for a royal bride? The man is BUSY. He’s an MMA fighter, he’s running house auctions from a bed of pink cushions, he’s breathing, he’s blow drying his facial hair. Kara just wants a kind man who’s over six-foot-two tall. I wonder what she thinks about all those cushions. 

AC: What we were definitely not left wondering was how her incredible dad Al felt about Married at First Sight. “I’ve seen snippets from Married at First Sight before and I always felt it was a bit contrived,” he told the Married at First Sight cameras. “It creates conflict which makes the programme saleable and marketable. It wasn’t about the people involved in Married at First Sight, it was about ratings.” Ironically, ‘twas a beautiful moment of conflict that undoubtedly made the programme more saleable and marketable. 

TW: Put the astute and wise Al on the couch as the third expert immediately, so we can ask him this important question: Did Michael steal James’s pink blazer for his wedding? 

Someone call 111 (Screengrab)

AC: He’s a detective with over 30 years of experience but this might be his toughest case yet. Have ye any other final thoughts as we close this deeply forensic analysis of Married at First Sight NZ episode one? 

TW: I do. LOL! The first episode was a great time, even if it did get a bit rude. Save something for the honeymoon, you guys! Now I’m off to eat a Magnum and comb the long rogue whisker on my left cheek. 

AC: So many more weddings to go, so many more guinea pigs to heal. 

Married at First Sight airs Sunday-Tuesday 7.30pm on Three, and streams on ThreeNow.

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