We’re only a few episodes into the new season of Married at First Sight in Atlanta, the couples are still on their honeymoon, and already the drama has reached its peak. Chris Williams has made quite a negative impression concerning his treatment of wife Paige Banks. Not only did he sleep with her twice the night of and morning after their wedding only to confess that he wasn’t attracted to her, but he also was told by his ex-fiancée, whom he was engaged to just months before walking down the aisle, that he has a baby on the way. All of that came out by day four of their marriage.
These revelations understandably upset viewers, who wondered how in the world anyone could have thought it was a good idea to match a good God-fearing woman like Paige with someone like Chris, whose red flags were there. Not to mention, many have wondered how they let him through when he was just engaged to someone else. So viewers took to social media to share their strong feelings. They were so intense that MAFS expert Dr. Viviana Coles had to speak out. She literally told people to “chill out” and not stress so much about how the experts end up matching the couples, and instead, wait to see how things play out.
“I mean, like, yes, they are real people. Yes, some of these things that you’re seeing are shocking, for sure, believe me, I’m there too. But you know, stop freaking out,” she told people in her Instagram Stories according to Reality TV World. “I can’t imagine that every fanbase has, I don’t know. I don’t know, this strong of a reaction to every episode of every reality TV show. Let’s chill out a little bit. Take a deep breath. Take a deep breath. Go along for the ride. Watch what happens with all of these couples and relationships. That’s what it’s all about!”
Someone who has been in Paige’s shoes though (well, sans the baby but definitely in terms of having a husband say they’re not attracted to them) is Kate Sisk. She was featured in Season 8 of the series in Philadelphia and was married for eight weeks to Luke Cuccurrollo. He too told her in front of the world that he wasn’t attracted to her while sleeping with Kate when the cameras were gone. They were certainly one of the most infamous couples in all of the 12 seasons. (He’s since moved on to a Black woman, in case you missed it.) Knowing her own experience and seeing Dr. Viviana’s response to criticism about the way participants are treated by their matched-for-a-reason spouses, she hit back and criticized the series as a whole.
“She says ‘Don’t stress? Chill out?’ WOW. So we witness abuse on this show and now they’re telling fans to stop talking about it. Fans are not overreacting. These are real people,” Kate said in the comment section for a clip of Dr. Viviana’s comments on the Instagram page @mafsfan.
“Producers used to ask me if I felt ‘safe’ before they left me with [Luke] for the night… I said yes but I realize now that they should never have to ask me that about a husband they chose for me,” she continued. “The show is intentionally putting women in marriages that will fail and profiting off of their pain.”
“Pick me apart all you want,” she added. “Some people are tired of watching people in painful situations.”
When someone told Kate that she didn’t have to stay with Luke as long as she did and that the experts wouldn’t have been able to foresee the behavior he exhibited, she contended that they could have.
“You say they can’t predict what a person can do? Yes they can. The show did extensive psychological tests on all of us and matched me with someone they knew would hurt me. On purpose,” she said. “And then there was the gaslighting from Luke. If you don’t know about gaslighting and psychological abuse, I suggest you look it up for your own sake.”
But the experts have stated that they don’t put ratings above the well-being of their participants. Pastor Cal has spoken about being shocked when people they choose portray themselves one way in the beginning and then act differently when on camera, and did so concerning Chris this season.
When I asked him why the experts don’t intervene when relationships become emotionally tumultuous to certain individuals, he said it’s because anyone unhappy with their matched partner needs to make the decision to leave on their own.
“We will not force anyone to be in a marriage when they really don’t want to be there,” he told us in 2019. “If they really feel like it’s over, it’s over. I don’t want that responsibility of forcing somebody to be in something where there are going to be emotions destroyed.”
“We can’t make people leave,” he added. “We can’t vote them off of the island [laughs]. It’s not that show. But these are people who actually want their marriages to work. They actually want to stay in it.”