THE PARENT TRAP: Groom blindsided by secret child
IN THE series premiere of Married At First Sight, one toxic bachelor has been sucker-punched by producers and trapped into parenthood with the revelation of a secret daughter.
Indeed, Channel 9's controversial reality dating show is back in all its heterosexual glory.
Given the minimal success rate these loons have had with their pairings in the past four years, this process is kind of like handing your iPhone to a drunk stranger at 3am and giving them complete authority over your dating apps in the hope they can find you love. From my personal experience, the outcome often involves getting matched with a guy who has a penchant for flat caps and satin vests and ends with you having to adopt your mother's maiden name on all social media platforms to avoid him.
First up on Monday night's episode, we watch on as psychologist John Aiken mansplains in very specific detail how this show works to fellow experts Mel and Trish even though they've been in this circus since the beginning.
Everyone, meet your first couple: Sarah and Telv.
Sarah is a 38-year-old beauty specialist from Melbourne whose favourite Spice Girl was probably Geri.
She enjoys Clairol home kits, good-quality acrylic nails and drinking cappuccino alone in alfresco dining settings.
Like a lot of the contestants in this year's series, Sarah has a rather sad personal backstory that doesn't really integrate nicely into these recaps so let's just keep things to more conversational topics like Ginger Spice comparisons.
She's matched with Telv. He's super nice and says he works hard so his kids can have everything he didn't and I'm sure he'll take great care of Sarah and shower her with more mani-pedi appointments per week than she's ever dreamt of.
Next up, Dean and Tracey.
Dean's a rather cocky fellow, which is a nice way of saying he's a bit of a jerk. After telling us about how he runs a social and digital media marketing company - which I'm pretty sure means he just has several Instagram profiles - we get to see him in action around his office.
"I need you ... all week ... on point," we see Dean grunt at an employee, making it rather clear he's not even sure what this company does.
But while he might not know what his job requirements are, he doesn't possess the same level of uncertainty when it comes to the qualities he'd like in a lady.
"My perfect wife would be tall, beautiful, brunette. Definitely, like, a slim girl and loving your make-up and nice shoes. That's what women are all about. And like, that's what us as men are attracted to," he informs us.
"In a relationship I feel like I need to be the leader because I'm the man. I got no problem being the man. I like to be in charge of what we do and our life. Men have lost a little bit of their masculinity in Australia."
As #MascDean says this, we cut to slow-motion overlay footage of him in a dirty pub with his mates, all of them yelling and slamming beers together and high-fiving while distressing music plays in the background. It's frightening and a sober reminder of why I don't go to any venue outside a 1.5km radius of Darlinghurst.
Just as we begin to fear for the woman Dean is matched with, we meet recently divorced mum-of-one Tracey.
"I'm an old-fashioned girl and I like to look after my man like he's the man," she giggles and, assuming she has a yen for nice shoes, we immediately wish Tracey and Dean a lifetime of happiness together.
Down in Melbourne, we find ourselves in some random old church for Sarah and Telv's wedding. And it's surprisingly boring. Like, more boring than a regular wedding.
They meet and they both like each other and there is no drama, which is the only reason we're here. Honestly, the only interesting thing about this wedding is Sarah's gay cousin who overreacts to even the slightest development throughout the day.
Over at Dean and Tracey's wedding in Sydney, things are similarly underwhelming. And Tracey didn't even have the foresight to bring a gay cousin to provide OTT facial expressions and completely irrelevant commentary.
But, Dean did bring his high school best friend Liam who's unjustifiably confident.
Just to get you up to speed with the kind of guy we're dealing with here, Liam tells anyone who will listen that he actually lives in LA but we immediately forget this because we're distracted by his crunchy hair gel, leather necklace and the five shirt buttons he's intentionally left undone. It's like he's actively trying to personify the "extra hold gel" verse in the Shania Twain song That Don't Impress Me Much.
Liam's one of those guy's who thinks he has a way with the ladies but absolutely does not.
"Do you party? Do you guys all like to party? Party?" Liam starts asking all the bridesmaids.
They ask Liam what Dean thinks of Tracey.
"I heard she's got a little surprise packet - rumour mill!" Liam laughs obnoxiously.
The bridesmaids look nervous and cease all conversation with Liam and his crunchy hair gel.
Out on the patio, Liam drunkenly slurs to us about the little secret he's discovered.
"From what I've heard, Tracey has a child. And I don't know if he even knows about it. So, that's my concern," he says.
He moves through the crowd and whispers to his mates. The mic pack he's wearing picks up the conversation
"I'm texting him right now and telling him to run," he mutters to one of his mates. "If she doesn't tell him I will be the person to tell him."
Suddenly, Liam becomes determined to expose Tracey's secret daughter. He lurks among reams of streamers on the dance floor, ready to pounce on Dean and reveal all. But then Tracey is gifted a few more precious moments by the universe when Liam gets distracted and starts winking at random people while shaping his hands into pistols.
During Tracey and Dean's first dance, Liam cuts in. He comes face-to-face with Tracey and attempts to tell her he knows her secret.
"There is some truth being hidden tonight," he says menacingly.
Tracey is scared. Her secret's about to be uncovered. Her new husband Dean suddenly appears next to them. Tracey doesn't know Liam at all, but when someone so confidently insists on leaving that many shirt buttons undone at a wedding, you just know not to mess with them.
She grabs Dean by the hand and runs off with him to the garden.
"I wanna have a quick chat and I'd rather you hear it from me," she says, catching her breath before blurting out the secret. "I have a daughter."
Dean isn't all that jazzed about being trapped into fatherhood.
Completely oblivious to Dean's shock, Tracey grabs her husband by the hand and playfully drags him back to the party for cake.
"Oh that's a relief," she exhales. "I feel so relieved!"
But Dean's not relieved. There's going to be drama. Enough drama to make up for the fact there was minimal drama in this lacklustre premiere.
And this is a candid photo of me watching it all unfold over the next eight weeks.
For more observations on good-quality acrylic nails and being a gay cousin, follow me on Twitter:@hellojamesweir