Last year, the UK version of the reality show Married at First Sight featured its first ever gay couple. Now, it has two. The show’s relationship expert, Mel Schilling, spoke to Digital Spy about the behind-the-scenes effort to champion LGBTQ+ representation, an effort conspicuously absent in most dating shows.
“I’ve been fighting for this for years!” said Schilling. “I’m so delighted! “So we have two same-sex couples, one male, one female, and it is just such a delight to bring that real-world colour and character into this experiment.
“It’s about time I think that we started to present an experiment that actually does represent the real world. You know, let’s not pretend that everybody looks like mem because they don’t.”
Sometimes referred to as a social experiment, Married at First Sight is—like it sounds—a show about people who agree to marry total strangers after being paired up by relationship experts. The couple lives together over the course of the season and chooses whether to stay married or get divorced by the end. Schilling provides relationship counseling on the show, as do Paul C. Brunson and Charlene Douglas.
Although Married at First Sight has been airing since 2014 in the US and 2015 in the UK, it took six years for the first gay couple to show up—first in the Australian version, with the UK version quickly following. While the show has been making great strides in LGBTQ+ representation—especially compared to competitor dating shows like Love Island—Schilling has also hinted at drama in store for the queer contestants.
“I can’t wait for the audience to start watching and seeing how all these different dynamics develop,” she said. “Certainly how, for example, the straight people respond to the gay people…it’s just the most beautiful melting pot of the real world.”
It just goes to show that queer couples are just as capable of making impulsive decisions for the sake of reality show fame. Married at First Sight UK airs on E4 in the UK.