Married At First Sight brides expose conditions
TWO Married At First Sight brides have blown the lid on the controversial Channel Nine reality series, claiming they were "conned" by the show, plied with alcohol and refused bathroom breaks while working under extreme conditions.
"There's no support, you're treated like monkeys, you basically beg to go for toilet breaks," the show's "runaway bride" Lauren Bran told news.com.au.
"The filming - because it goes for so long - you're tired, you're drunk, you're not yourself, they get you at your worst. I was boozy, they booze you up. They encourage it. They're just free-pouring the whole time. At one stage I had someone put a couple of drinks in front of me. And I said, 'Nah, nah, I'm good, I'm good,' and they say, 'Nah, have more to drink'."
Perth truck driver Susan Rawlings, who was paired with Queensland farmer Sean Hollands, also hit out at the show, telling news.com.au it's "completely not true at all" and questioned the involvement of the program's psychologists.
"How do they edit this and completely not give a sh*t about people's lives?" she said. "They don't give a sh*t about what others think of these people."
IT'S THE ALCOHOL TALKING
"On the hens night, there were jugs of water - they swapped it for vodka and Red Bull," Bran, 33, recalled.
Booze seemed to play a big part in the series this year, with contestants getting noticeably candid at the weekly dinner parties.
Rawlings, 37, recalled fellow contestant Deborah pointing out that crew would take away glasses that were half-full so contestants would go and get another drink.
"Free alcohol, take as much as you want and be here the next nine hours," Rawlings said.
In tonight's episode, Bran returns to the series for the final, chaotic reunion dinner party. And in messy scenes, Bran confronts her ex, Andrew Jones - the controversial groom she ditched just hours after marrying.
It was the first dinner party Bran experienced on the series. She'd walked out on the show early on, ditching her husband Andrew Jones just hours after their wedding.
And at the reunion dinner, she went toe-to-toe with her ex.
"You're arrogant, you're full of yourself. You're a cocky little prick," Bran tells him.
Jones spits back: "Just putting everything in context - (I'm) taking relationship advice from my runaway bride."
"Lauren got so drunk on tonight's episode," Susan recalled. "That was really bad to see, actually. It was not good at all."
Rawlings said she tried to warn the Sydney mum-of-one about the dinner parties and the alcohol.
"Of course my advice was don't drink much at all because that's all they seem to want for you - to drink until the wee hours of the morning until you're tired and you'll say the wrong things and then all the cameras are on you," she said.
While contestants were paid a daily fee of $200, Rawlings said they were "kept to exhaustion" under extreme conditions.
Filmed in Sydney during summer, Rawlings said preparation for the weekly parties and ceremonies would begin at their apartments between ten in the morning and one in the afternoon, where crew would mic them up.
"Then you go in separate cars, which takes forever. You're sitting in a taxi for an hour or two with the aircon going," she recalled. "We'd wait on sometimes plastic chairs in this hot warehouse with a metal roof. No air conditioning. And everyone's trying to scramble near a window - if you don't get a window, you've got no luck because you just have no air."
Rawlings said the actual dinner party wouldn't begin until seven or nine in the evening.
"And the dinner party would always finish between two and four in the morning. You're exhausted."
A spokesman from Endomol Shine Australia - the production company behind the series - said the company took its duty of care seriously.
"All participants are given adequate food, water and breaks and have access to psychological support, which has always been available at any time throughout the show and continues to be," the spokesman said in a statement.
While Bran only experienced one dinner party throughout the series, she recalled similar circumstances, and claimed crew "bullied" contestants.
"So we're sitting there in extremely hot conditions for 12 hours and you finish at three, four in the morning," she said. "The next day, you're having to go, sit in front of the experts, with all these people and try and explain your case. It's very intimidating. It's bullying. The producers, they yell at you. Because we were all so tired and everyone had been up filming and it was so hot and they'd say, 'Guys! You look like you're at a bloody funeral! Liven up! Look a bit happier!' And we're like, 'How the F do we be happy when we're in these extreme conditions?'
During these long nights, both Rawlings and Bran said contestants were also refused bathroom breaks.
"The amount of times we got told we're not schoolchildren was huge," Rawlings said. "(Crew yelled) 'You're not schoolchildren! You can hold your bladders! You don't need to all go to the toilet an hour after the last person went!'"
Both Bran and Rawlings left the show without finding love. Instead, they've been left with heartache.
"You sell your soul to the show, your identity and you've no idea how they'll portray you," Bran said.
"I've had no support since leaving the show. They've no idea the impact it's had on all at stake. People will say you know what you've signed up for ... no - you're sold a glamorous story and conned by (people) who make out to be your best friend."
An Endomol Shine Australia spokesman said "all participants have access to psychological support".
"Our production is also in regular contact with the participants and are diligent in reporting any concerns to our psychologist," the company said in a statement.
"We take our duty of care extremely seriously."
Sydney mum Bran - who insists she never wanted to be portrayed as a single-mum on the series - said it's also affected her son.
"I did not know at any stage that Dylan (her son) was going to have any involvement in the show until we were halfway through filming the backstory," she said. "They said, 'Aw, we really wanna get Dylan in'. They made it seem real laid-back about getting him in, getting him to kick a ball.
"And then there's a fallout after the show and he's copping things from kids at school. Nobody's called me after the show I've never once been contacted by the psychologist."
Three months on since filming wrapped, Bran said the show has affected her life drastically, pointing out she left a "great career" to find love on the series.
"I think it's impacted each and every one of us quite badly. I don't have a lot of positive feedback about the show - they're assholes they treat you like absolute monkeys," she said.
"I think I was definitely taken advantage of and then you're bound to contract and then they send you threats for saying anything. You're manipulated and your manipulated to say certain things.
"The producers act as though they're your best friends. And you get sucked in. In terms of working, I think it ruins your identity and reputation. Especially when you're portrayed as a drunk."
While Rawlings is waiting for the experience to be over, she said she's more concerned with fellow contestant Anthony Manton, who's been portrayed as the "controlling groom".
"They've gagged Anthony from doing any media whatsoever and Anthony doesn't go out of the house - he's been threatened so many time from drunk people at the racetrack from the way he's being portrayed and they don't even care," she said. "They didn't even show one moment of him being a nice guy on that show."
Married At First Sight's finale finishes tomorrow on Nine at 7.30pm.