Marine biology student Connie and pharmacy manager Vanessa are adorable, young women with decent looks and seemingly pleasant personalities, but a crippling sense of self-doubt that doesn’t lend itself to dating in the swipe-right age. Real estate agent Ivan is a genuine oddball who will either become more endearing as we get to know him or utterly infuriating; either way, very watchable.
Of course, none of the marriages carry any legal weight, but fitness coach Amanda – who comes looking for a female partner – is ready to accept the symbolic weight of being part of the first same-sex coupling on the show post-plebiscite (season three offered us Crandy, the ill-fated coupling of Craig and Andy).
Of course, it doesn’t take long at all for the usual squabbles and misunderstanding to take hold, and there’s something depressingly familiar about all that. Like many a real-life coupling, the open-hearted promises to give it our all will soon enough slide into acrimony and accusation. And with the return of last season’s jilted bride Elizabeth Sobinoff on the cards as an “intruder”, the dinner-party drama is likely to be dialled up to 11. It’s probably best to watch with an eyebath close at hand, for a quick post-show cleansing.
Over at MKR, we’ve got a vastly retooled show. Two teams, living in two houses, coached by two different chefs: the “favourites” of Team Manu and the “fans” (that is, newbies) of Team Colin. Pete Evans plays referee.
It’s a great conceit that breathes fresh life into a format now in its 11th season. Season four champions Dan and Steph – who used the prize money to fund IVF treatment and now want to aim for a second child – are back, as are catty villains Sophia (season four) and Romel (season 10).
The standouts in the early episodes, though, are newcomers Ben and Vasil, a pair of bartenders who may or may not be able to cook but are absolutely hilarious. Never have so many high-fives been delivered in the course of preparing a meal; never has so much ineptitude and slap-dashness been on display in the kitchen; rarely have such sparkly shirts been worn by a pair of budding chefs.
And rarely has so much outrageous flirting been seen as between this pair and their ostensible rivals Rachel and Roula. In fact, Ben and Roula might just as readily have turned up on MAFS. And that show’s truck-driving country boy David could always try Farmer Wants a Wife if this one doesn’t work out.
After all, in the reality TV merry-go-round, happily ever after is only an audition away.