Love Bites: Marriage On Screen

This month's columnist reflects on dating shows, marriage, and trusting in love

Feature by Lara Delmage | 13 Jul 2022
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Marriage is an archaic institution, an event that epitomises the Madonna-Whore complex. The bride floats down the aisle, like a virgin, but is still dtf (down to fuck). Even now, when most ‘try before they buy’, the ceremony remains unchanged, the woman in white still upholding the virginal ideal. It is a not-so-veiled transaction used to fool little girls into longing to be traded from one man to another in return for that elusive thing: love. 

Yet despite these sentiments I simply can’t shake my obsession for dating shows where the prize is unconditional love. In Married at First Sight, Love is Blind, and The Bachelor, the currency is long-term partnership. Frivolous flings are frowned upon as a symbol of emotional immaturity, and monogamy reigns supreme. Those who are unable to commit to the small pool of participants in these love ‘experiments’ are failures. Peeking through my fingers, I can’t get enough of the drama.

By episode 22 of Married at First Sight Australia I wondered if I too, as a die-hard monogamist (failed polyamorist), secretly coveted the gamble of laying everything I have on the line and giving it to someone else. I realised that I wasn’t just in it for the entertainment, but that I actively admired the courage of those trusting in the ‘experts’, even when the odds are against them. 

Perhaps marriage is becoming just that, a high-stakes game show that tantalises us with the thrill of living as one half of a whole. And don’t get me wrong, I’m still not sold on the whole marriage thing, but I’m surprised that watching a bunch of Aussies marry some random stranger made me warm to the idea. It made me feel that asking someone to love you forever isn’t such an outlandish thing – if you remove all the ceremonious misogyny bullshit, that is.