Australian star Sam Ball’s first look has a lot to explain (Photo: E4).

The sixth season of the reality dating show – which airs on weekday evenings on E4 – gives us a much-needed dose of coronavirus-free drama and love scenes in equal measure.

In the show, singles walk down the aisle to marry someone they’ve never had anything to do with. Couples then go through a series of relationship tests to see if they will survive the race – spoiler alert, most won’t.

And I think it has a lot to do with the men these poor women are twinned with.

The series is full of toxic masculinity, commenting on crazy, emotional, sexy women who appear in almost every episode.

One of the most egregious examples is Elizabeth Sobinova’s treatment of her husband Sam and her boyfriend Mike Gunner.

Elizabeth and Sam did not get off to a good start in their marriage. The groom noted that his new wife is taller than the women he’s used to interviewing on camera and suggested she get more exercise.

Then everything changed when he disappeared the morning after their big day, a few hours before they left for their honeymoon.

At the time, he insisted because he had to attend his ex-girlfriend’s funeral, but he couldn’t reach his wife for the next five days and didn’t bother to respond to her anguished voice message.

Though he didn’t reach out to Elizabeth to let her know he was alive, he happily went to the first group dinner of the season to try and make amends with his partner, and was shocked that she was so badly hurt by being left alone and dry.

Sam has never stopped talking about his wife Elizaveta Sobinova (photo: Channel 9).

Mike Gunner defended his buddy’s actions during the show (Photo: E4).

Even the experts were baffled when he had the nerve to ask why she was so angry and said they should talk like humans, and Mike said she would eventually defect.

My jaw was on the floor. I couldn’t understand why no man could understand that Elizabeth had good reason to be angry.

It’s perfectly understandable that he had to leave to do something important. But what wasn’t right was that he treated her like a complete idiot for not caring.

All she wanted was an explanation, and I thought it made her sound like a psychopath, loud and overly emotional – labels women have been burdened with for years.

Moreover, Mike later claimed that his best friend had been a gentleman throughout the experience. He said he dodged a bullet when his wife, who was totally unreasonable, refrained from attending the second dinner – on the doctor’s orders.

Which part of that sounds like a perfect gentleman to you? Elizabeth called that being overweight? To say publicly that he was put off by her attempts at intimacy – without her even being in the room? Leave her alone for five days without saying a word? Or are you pretending to work on your relationship by secretly cheating on her with a co-star? Because Gentleman Sam has already ticked all those boxes and we’re not even at the end of the season yet.

I’d like to say this isn’t the case, but it’s a trope we’ve seen countless times on every reality show (including the previous MAFSA series) – a man does something wrong, a woman dares to defend herself and respond, and is reprimanded for being too emotional and choosing to fight.

Matthew struggled to get married for the first time in Australia (Photo: E4).

Lauren opened up about her sexual preferences on the show (Photo: E4).

Similar scenes are shown on Love Island, Big Brother, Toey, Geordie Shore and many others, and it makes my blood boil as much as the sight of Boris giving his daily briefing. It’s wrong, it’s gaslighter behavior, and frankly we need to stop giving this behavior a platform on television.

I’m not saying the women on this show are perfect. Ines Basic, for example, is known for her antics, including outbursts of anger toward her new husband Bronson Norrish and attempts to have a secret affair with Sam Ball. And while Elizabeth faced unfair competition for her weight, she also said that Sam looked like a jerk when she first saw him.

But these cases are nothing compared to the way men treat their wives.

Even those we truly support can be wrong, as Mick Gould associated with Jessica Power has shown. After their relationship hit an impasse at their first dinner party – when Jess yelled at Mike for pretending to be innocent (who maintained her innocence but said so unequivocally) and then yelled at her husband for not defending her – they put the drama behind them and became really attached.

So much so that they ended up having sex, which apparently helped them after the pep talk from their co-stars. But things get even more complicated when Mick incorporates their sexual escapades into a bachelor party with Mike and Mark and gets a pat on the back for it.

There’s only one problem: Jessica specifically told him that she didn’t want anyone to know about their intimate relationship and asked him to keep their sex life quiet. She made an exception to this betrayal, taking a picnic by the pool the next morning.

Talking about sex is a normal part of life, but there is absolutely no excuse for breaking someone’s trust and talking about the bedroom.

There are more examples of toxic moments – so many that it would take more time to list them all than just to watch the show at leisure. Mark is rude to Nin during a training session and then makes her cry. Taking off his engagement ring and telling her he’d rather be single only set off alarm bells, while Matthew made it very clear to his MaFSA colleagues that he wasn’t attracted to Lauren at dinner – without telling her beforehand – and that he didn’t understand why she was upset.


All of these women are demanding to be listened to and treated with fundamental respect, and they are being left behind by the men with whom they hoped to spend the rest of their lives.

Don’t tell me about Lauren, who said she dates women and likes threesomes.

While the men on the show were more than happy to describe their sex lives on camera in vivid stories, with conversations in bed almost always the primary topic of conversation, other contestants were shocked when details of their intimate lives were revealed that shouldn’t be.

I don’t understand how in 2021 – or 2019, when the series was filmed – it can still be shocking that women also like sex, and are ashamed of all the things they like to do in the privacy of their own bedroom.

You’d think I wouldn’t enjoy watching the show, but I do – it turned out to be the trashy tonic I needed to get through the lockout, especially since we’ve been without Love Island for almost a year now.

Although the behavior of the groomsmen bothers me, seeing the reactions of other viewers on Twitter makes me feel better. It’s exciting to watch the fans in their ranks plunge into toxic times, seeking justice for those who have been hurt and revenge for their bad behavior.

People pulled together to defend Elizabeth, who found herself in one of the most hilarious situations she’s ever been in, while urging Lauren to share her sexual preferences, showing that progress is being made to change attitudes everywhere.

Now, if only TV bosses would listen to their critics. ……

Faithful for the first time at the sixth season festivities in Australia, at 7.30pm on E4.

Do you have a story?

If you have a story, video or picture about a celebrity, please contact the Entertainment team by emailing [email protected], calling us on 020 3615 2145 or visiting our Submit Stuff page – we’d love to hear from you.

MORE: Tom Hopper of the Umbrella Academy finds having an autistic son incredibly helpful.

MORE: The reaction to Olivia Wilde and Harry Styles’ love affair proves that sexism is alive and well in celebrity relationships.

MORE: Ines Basic, an Australian wedding at first sight, then makes a £25,000 film.

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