Seven Year Switch: Hey guess what, now you're married!
ONE of Australia's most controversial reality shows has upped the stakes and blindsided a fresh bunch of straight couples by tricking them into marrying a stranger.
During Monday night's premiere of Seven Year Switch, viewers watched on as four seriously unhappy Aussie couples separated and switched partners in an attempt to save their crappy relationships.
But, in a delicious twist, the couples were slapped in the face with a new rule they didn't see coming. Once it was too late for them to back out of the experiment, it was revealed they'd have to marry the stranger they're paired with.
Complete with rings.
In a hot second the series turned into Married At First Sight and I was half-expecting one of the wives to peel a rubber mask off her face to reveal herself as Nadia.
I personally believe this is how all reality shows should operate from now on.
I want to see a bunch of losers who think they've signed up for My Kitchen Rules going about their business during the first home kitchen challenge and then all of a sudden they're locked in the house and it's revealed they're on Big Brother.
Going on this show to save your marriage is kind of like becoming a Catholic as the plane's crashing down.
And what makes this series better than other dating shows is these people are already coming into the experiment with years of deep-seeded resentment and hate. We don't have to wait several weeks for it to develop.
STACEY LOUISE AND SARGE
First up we meet Stacey Louise and Sarge. They've been together two and a half years and have somehow dodged the "seven year" part of the Seven Year Switch criteria.
Our first introduction to this Brisbane couple is through a driving lesson where we witness Sarge trying to teach Stacey Louise how to drive a manual because women are dummies. He's yelling out of frustration.
Maybe Stacey Louise is a really terrible driver. Or maybe she's just so mortified to be seen in this pile of crap that her body has begun involuntarily convulsing at the wheel.
The first time we see them is from the floor of their Subaru.
"I'm Derek. Although everyone calls me Sarge these days," he informs us.
I feel confident in assuming no one in his life actually calls him Sarge but he just desperately wants them to.
Sarge and Stacey Louise are both personal trainers and they say their love for each other blossomed over the shared dream of having their own boot camp business which is really quite a modern tale of romance. In their minds, I can tell they think they're just like Michelle Bridges and Commando. They're not.
Now, when it comes to Sarge, I don't know whether the really fitted army print tees he insists on wearing every day came before or after the nickname but his wardrobe is solely made up of them so get used to it.
While they're putting groceries away in the kitchen, a fight breaks out. We stand back in silence and awkwardly watch on.
"I can never tell what's my food or not! Because you always put your food on my shelf," Sarge yells at his partner. "Like, there is such a systematic approach to fridges and you just mess it up! It's making sure you've got a system so you know where everything is!"
There are two types of people in this world: the kind who organise the food in their fridge like they're ancient files in a museum archive. And the kind who just place the new food around the three half-full cartons of expired milk and avoid the vegetable drawer because there's a bag of spinach in there that's rotted so badly the leaves have not only wilted and decomposed into mulch, it's actually now just liquid. Sarge is the former.
"I feel controlled," Stacey Louise says, surprised that a man who insists on being called Sarge might have a rather dominant personality.
I should point out now, Stacey Louise does a fake cry that she thinks is convincing but it totally isn't.
She pulls it out during several of the fights we witness between her and Sarge and she does it again when she has to say goodbye to him on the day of their switch. I think she thinks it's cute but it's actually just real creepy and annoying to watch.
MICHAEL AND FELICITY
This young couple of five years had a kid three months after meeting at the pub and have put their wedding on hold.
Felicity says trouble began to surface in the relationship when she started up her business making paleo baked goods and honestly this doesn't surprise me.
New figures from the ABS show paleo baked goods are responsible for the incline in divorce and separations in both metropolitan and coastal areas around Australia.
I'll even admit my last long term relationship was brought down by a paleo ball. It's a silent killer and more of us need to speak up.
Anyway, for Michael and Felicity, their relationship is crumbling like a Pete Evans-certified brownie.
JOHNNY AND TRACEY
In Adelaide, we meet Johnny and Tracey. They've been together for 11 years, have a few kids and have just finished a 12 month separation but still want to give their marriage another go.
We see them fighting over dinner and it moves into the kitchen. Above them on the wall, decorative plywood cut-outs of the words "relax" and "enjoy" taunt them and their sinking marriage.
It's clear Tracey's more excited for this whole experiment than Johnny. On the big day of their switch, she shoves him into a Kia Carnival and yells "have fun!" She's also dressed like one of those Jenner girls.
MARK AND KAITLYN
I don't even know where to begin here. OK. Kaitlyn's from Florida and here's a photo of her:
"You don't need to raise your voice and yell out details of personal things on the tram," he tells her during an argument. This instruction is vague yet alludes to an oddly specific incident and I can only conclude Kaitlyn once yelled out the size of Mark's penis on public transport.
While Mark's out with the boys, Kaitlyn stays at home and alternates between calling him on handset, calling him on speakerphone, and texting him.
Packing for their time apart, Kaitlyn decides it's the perfect opportunity to pull out her vibrator to Mark's horror.
"Why do you have a problem with my vibrator?!" she screams, wagging it in his face.
Freshly separated and liberated from their crumby marriages, everyone's feeling much lighter and happier.
The multi-million dollar waterfront mansions they're now living in for three weeks have a lot to do with this change in demeanour but no one admits that. Each person meets their new "partner" and there's no real disgust.
But then things take a turn. Each new couple finds two boxes and a note.
"In order to invest in the experiment you'll need to feel a sense of partnership. The best way to do this is to take part in an experimental marriage. With these rings you become husband and wife," the note reads. Inside the ugly boxes are ugly rings.
It seems these couples, who signed up for Seven Year Switch, have been blindsided into being contestants on Married At First Sight and it's really quite a terrific moment.
These bozos thought they'd just be shooting the breeze with a stranger in a cool house for a few weeks, but instead they've been tricked into marriage by experts.
Felicity isn't thrilled by the turn of events.
"I'm engaged. So for me to do that I would have to take my (ring) off. And that's just a bit weird," she tells her new husband Mark. "I think it devalues the importance of and how special a marriage is."
She says she'd be "extremely disrespected" if her real fiance Michael agrees to wear the ring and hopes Kaitlyn feels the same. "I just wouldn't do that to another girl," she says thoughtfully.
Cut to Kaitlyn, and she has no problem doing this to another girl. She's totally psyched about the wedding rings and she's made Felicity's fiance Michael propose several different ways before reciting vows she's written on the spot.
Will the surprise marriages be the decision that fast tracks the demise of at least one relationship and causes a bitchy confrontation between two ladies who haven't even met yet at a reunion episode that's several weeks away?
Yes. Yes. A million times yes.
Have paleo baked goods been responsible for the destruction of your marriage? Get in touch with your stories: @hellojamesweir