We’d Never Want To Deal With Fuckboys IRL, So Why Do We Love Them On MAFS?

While many dating shows try to hide the value of produced drama or chaos, Married At First Sight unashamedly leans into it. Yes, it teases us with the prospect of strangers finding their happily ever afters, but it also doesn't pretend to be just about love.
Whether it's a secret affair or the throwing of wine glasses at dinner parties, MAFS is known for never shying away from controversy — and viewers consistently eat it up.
This season has already kicked off with a few dramatic storylines, and at the centre of those are male contestants showcasing red-flag behaviours that give off instant fuckboy energy.
It all began in the first episode when 32-year-old builder, Harrison Boon, was outed after his wedding to Bronte Schofield for apparently promising another woman on the outside that he would be with her after the reality show's filming wrapped.
When Schofield confronted him, Boon initially played down the claims, before admitting that he'd been speaking to several women just before going onto MAFS.
"I was seeing a number of girls before I came into this," he said. "I'm a single guy in Sydney and I didn't know if [I] was gonna last a week, a month, the entire experiment," he said. "But I'm not in a relationship with anyone. They're just people that I was seeing."
When Schofield said she'd heard there was one particular woman who was expecting him to be with her after the show, he admitted he'd "had a crush" on this woman "for a long time" but only got a chance to date her just before he went on MAFS.
"I told her that I was giving this 100% and it wouldn't be right for us to continue," he said.
Image courtesy of Channel 9
Married At First Sight contestants Bronte Schofield and Harrison Boon
While Boon had seemingly talked himself out of this pickle, for now, the red flags continue. In tonight's episode, with promos showing him telling Schofield he's not sexually attracted to her and then questioning her for being upset by his admission.
Meanwhile, episode 2 revealed controlling and judgmental behaviour from another groom, Jesse Burford. In the episode, he told his new TV wife, Claire Nomarhas, to be quiet "a few times", leading her to second-guess herself and everything she says.
"Jesse actually shushed me a couple of times today, and I did not like being shushed," Nomarhas told producers.
"We were in the airport, just getting a few things for our honeymoon, and maybe I laugh loud, maybe I'm a little bit loud when I speak, and he was like, 'Shush, use your indoor voice.' Like, one day in, if you're already shushing me, you're going to have a hard time ahead of you buddy boy."
When Nomarhas tried to speak to her husband about this later and explain her enthusiasm and willingness to talk comes from wanting to learn more about her new husband, Burford shut her down and said he preferred to sit in silence.
"I don't want to be the needy girl that just always is wanting more," a teary Nomarhas asked producers. "It confuses me, am I literally asking for too much? Do I need to just shush?"
These are only two examples of what's undoubtedly going to be another dramatic-filled season. And with MAFS already beating out rival shows Australian Idol and Australian Survivor: Heroes VS Villains in ratings this week, it seems that any problematic behaviour or toxic masculinity on the show isn't necessarily steering viewers away.
So, why do so many of us — who've dealt with being ghosted, gaslit or cheated on by fuckboys — continue to tune in for an hour and a half every night to watch more fuckboys on TV?
They may be the last people we want to deal with in real life, but it's possible we're more comfortable seeing fuckboys on TV because it offers us the opportunity to get the closure that we didn't get from our own relationships, while still maintaining enough distance between us and them.
"If we see someone who's not regulating their emotions, for example, in one of the scenes where they're screaming at each other over a dinner table, we're watching it but we're also watching the consequences of it and learning from it," Perth-based psychologist Dr Marny Lishman tells Refinery29 Australia.
"So, we might see a horrible dude who's similar to someone we dated in the past, but we almost want to watch his journey throughout the program and see karma happen," Lishman continues. "Part of us is wanting him to get the consequences, and often they do."
Image courtesy of Channel 9
Married At First Sight contestants Claire Nomarhas and Jesse Burford
Lishman says there's a "healing" element for some people when they see this play out on-screen.
"Sometimes, if you've gone through something yucky in a relationship, and now you're watching a similar thing play out with characters on TV, you're watching the journey and watching the retribution happening which might actually help you heal," she says.
With personalities on reality TV "not acting" as opposed to those on scripted shows, we identify that this is "someone else who has gone through what I've gone through" and quickly relate to them.
"So you think, 'Their vulnerability here is something I can identify with'," says Lishman. "And that might help you on your healing journey as well."
Watching problematic behaviours in relationships, however, can also bring up past traumas and trigger us. Lishman says it's important to "remember that we can turn these [shows] off" if they're making us uncomfortable.
"When you get triggered, it's a new wound opening an old wound," she explains, saying it's important to reflect in that moment on what the person's doing on TV that's making you feel perhaps "angry or frustrated or sad".
"Maybe there are things that have happened in the past that you haven't quite processed enough or you haven't healed from yet," she says.
"So, be curious with that, and ask yourself, 'Maybe I'm really not over that person that cheated on me or that person that was manipulating me — what is that about? Then speak to someone about it. You could even talk to a psychologist about it just to try and unpack it."
For those game to watch more drama on MAFS this season, fret not. We're not even a whole week in, let alone at the point where the dinner parties and commitment ceremonies kick-off.
Married At First Sight airs Sunday at 7pm and Monday to Wednesday at 7:30pm on Channel 9 and 9Now.
Want more? Get Refinery29 Australia’s best stories delivered to your inbox each week. Sign up here!

More from TV