Married at First Sight is one of the most unique shows on the small screen right now – and one that’s ripe for drama. After all, when two strangers tie the knot upon their first meeting, there are always going to be fireworks. Yet two contestants from Married at First Sight Australia – Connie Crayden and Mishel Karen – have revealed that the behind-the-scenes crew often take things too far. In fact, the show’s producers definitely wouldn’t want you to hear the stars’ shocking stories.
It’s perhaps surprising that these particular participants spoke up, too. When Crayden appeared on the series, you see, she was described as an “introvert” with dreams of becoming a scientist. And the store assistant who hails from Melbourne, Australia, had been without a partner for around half a decade before featuring on the show.
As for Karen – who joined Crayden in the season seven line-up – she lives in Brisbane, Australia, as a single parent. And since leaving her husband more than a decade before, Karen had tried to form bonds with several different men – but nothing had stuck. So it seems that both Crayden and Karen had good reasons for going on Married at First Sight. But the stars couldn’t have anticipated what would happen next.
You see, as the season got going, Karen and Crayden were paired off with two different men. The former was coupled up with a guy named Steve Burley, who was three years her senior. And the show’s matchmakers put Crayden together with a man called Jonethen Musulin. So far, so good.
Yet Karen and Burley’s relationship proved to be especially rocky throughout the season. How come? Well, the problems started to emerge when Burley revealed that he’d been unfaithful to an old partner. And unfortunately for the single mom, this confession struck a little too close to home. That’s because several men had broken her heart by doing the same thing in the past.
But Burley’s admission was just one of the many upheavals the couple went through – up until a pivotal moment. This occurred when the pair were brought together for the “final commitment ceremony.” Instead of getting hitched, then, Karen let rip at her partner. And, unsurprisingly, that spelled the end of the tumultuous relationship.
Interestingly, Crayden’s relationship with Musulin followed a somewhat similar path. To begin with, though, the aspiring marine biologist appeared to have been paired with an ideal match. Yet that positivity eventually evaporated as the two started to pick holes in their coupling throughout the season.
In Crayden’s mind, you see, Musulin could act childishly while they were together on the show. And on the flip side, he found it difficult to give her what she wanted in a relationship. In the end, then, things became strained between the pair – and that led them to make a big decision.
Yes, much like Karen and Burley, Crayden and Musulin called time on their relationship. But while the pair didn’t see a future together, they at least initially appeared to be maintaining a friendly bond following the split. In March 2020, however, even that friendship was done and dusted after a major falling out.
What happened? Well, during that period, Crayden was preparing to celebrate her birthday in Melbourne. Musulin and some of the other Married at First Sight contestants informed her that they’d drop in on the party, too – but that didn’t happen. And after this disappointment, Crayden offered a tearful response on a local radio station.
“I had my last straw with [Musulin] this weekend. I can’t play pretend. I can’t live a double life,” Crayden told Hit100.9. “It was my birthday this weekend. He was in Melbourne for the whole weekend. He said he would be there for me for my birthday. He was with [other participants] Mikey, Ivan, Steve and Dave.”
“I get it, these guys are celebrities, they’re D-grade celebrities,” Crayden fumed. “They had this very important event to go through, and they said after it was done they’d come and meet me for a drink. I thought, awesome, that’d mean the world to me. But after saying they’d come, they didn’t even bother.”
Crayden’s angry response didn’t end there, either. The star admitted to the radio host that she’d known some of Musulin’s pals were unlikely to turn up – but that she’d hoped her TV partner would keep his word. After he backed out, though, Crayden couldn’t contain her disappointment.
“I half expected it, but after everything we’ve been through together, I thought [Musulin] could [come],” Crayden said. “Even David and Steve I was really shocked with. I thought they could take an hour after lapping up that D-grade life to have a drink with a mate. They were too busy with their meet and greets and thinking they’re really relevant and important.”
And a few weeks on from that emotional interview, Crayden hit the headlines again – this time alongside Karen. Yes, the pair took part in an Instagram Live conversation in April 2020 in which they discussed their time on Married at First Sight. And during their talk, they shed some light on the darker truths behind the show.
And we’re not talking about a timid revelation concerning the “constructed reality” of the series, either. After all, dating shows of this ilk – including everything from 90 Day Fiancé to The Bachelor – have continually cropped up on the small screen in the past few years. Each of those programs has its own spin on the format in an attempt to stand out, too. So, in a way, Married at First Sight is the dating-show concept taken to the extreme.
But did you know that the original version of the show was produced in Denmark? Yep, and it was called Gift Ved Første Blik. This was before FYI – a new channel on the A+E network – created its own take, of course. And the concept is genius in its simplicity: six strangers are paired off into couples and immediately married in front of the cameras.
Then, after the ceremonies end, the show keeps tabs on the newlyweds for the next few weeks – ahead of a significant moment in their relationships. At that stage, you see, the pairs decide if they want to stay together or split up. The winning format has proven to be a big hit with viewers in the U.S. and across the globe as well.
In fact, following Married at First Sight’s debut stateside, more than 150 episodes have aired on the small screen. There’s no sign of this juggernaut letting up, either. That’s because the tenth season kicked off at the start of 2020 – and another season is on the way, too. And that’s doesn’t even take into account the various spin-offs and international versions.
You see, other nations besides the U.S. have developed their own versions of the show. For instance, the United Kingdom’s iteration made its bow in the summer of 2015. And Australia’s take on the format debuted a couple of months earlier – going on to be a sizable hit Down Under.
Yes, Married at First Sight quickly gained a large following in Australia. How large? Well, to give you an idea of the show’s popularity, the final episode of the sixth season aired in April 2019 and brought in more than two million viewers. That meant it was the highest-rated show on television in the country that night – by some margin. Inevitably, then, the seventh season hit the small screen in 2020.
When compared to the other iterations of the show, however, Australia’s version of Married at First Sight has one key difference. You see, the participants don’t actually tie the knot upon their very first encounter. To explain more, a representative from the network spoke with The Sydney Morning Herald in April 2015.
The spokesperson explained, “In order to comply with the Australian Marriage Act (1961), which requires one month and one day notification, a marriage in law was not conducted. Each participant embarked on a commitment ceremony with a wedding celebrant, with all due intention to commit fully to this union for the duration of the experiment.”
“At the end of the experiment, [the contestants] are given the option to continue with the relationship or go their separate ways,” the spokesperson added. But regardless of those changes, plenty of people have still signed up for the show over the years. In fact, 24 such individuals got involved in the seventh season – the year Crayden and Karen featured in the line-up. And, as we mentioned earlier, what the contestants had to say about this season was simply shocking.
In the pair’s Instagram Live chat, then, Crayden and Karen kicked things off by speaking about the show’s editing choices – as well as how each of them was portrayed in the episodes. Crayden doesn’t hold back on this particular topic, either. In fact, she reveals that the contestants weren’t depicted authentically on the program.
“That’s a huge risk that you guys need to take when you’re going on to the show. Because it’s not just heroes and villains,” Crayden says of the ways the episodes are edited. “You are characters on a TV show. Okay? You play a character on a TV show, that I cannot stress enough.”
At this stage, Karen makes an intriguing point. After listening to her co-star’s thoughts, the mom comments that the so-called “characters” still bear a resemblance to the contestants’ real personalities outside the show. Crayden quickly agrees, noting that it’s an odd situation to find yourself in.
“That’s the thing,” Crayden continues. “You’re a real person, but you’re still a character. It’s very strained. And with some very creative editing, they can make you look however [they] want. Just because you’re not a villain, it doesn’t mean that you’re not going to be portrayed in a negative way.”
Off the back of this, Crayden switches her focus to another aspect of the show. Yes, she delves into the “conversations” that are peppered throughout the episodes – and this draws big laughs from both her and Karen. As it turns out, you see, the discussions between the contestants are largely set up by the show’s producers.
Crayden even touches upon a thought she once had regarding the series’ format. And if the producers were to take her advice, the Melbourne resident argues, more genuine conversations could be captured. “I used to always say, I kind of wished it was set up like Big Brother, where there were cameras rolling 24/7,” Crayden admits.
“[That’s] because when the cameras were off, and there were no producers around or anything, and it was just Jonnie and I at home cooking dinner together, or sitting on the couch watching telly together, those conversations that we were having then and there, that’s what was real,” Crayden says.
From here, Crayden admits that she wanted the audience to see those interactions – rather than what eventually made it into the episodes. Karen also claims that she wasn’t allowed to hang out with Crayden on the show. Instead, she says, she had to deal with people whom she didn’t want to be around.
As for Karen’s relationship with Burley, the star confesses that they weren’t together that much when the cameras were away. “You don’t spend a lot of time off-camera with your partner,” the Brisbane resident reveals. “They don’t always want to spend time with you, and you don’t always want to spend time with them.”
After this, the Instagram Live conversation starts to wrap up. But to conclude the video, Karen and Crayden sum up their experiences on Married at First Sight – and ponder if they had any regrets. The former takes the lead on this topic, as she feels the need to get something else off her chest.
“I don’t think [I should’ve done the show]. Even with knowing all of you guys, and having you in my heart and my life, I would not do it again to myself,” Karen admits. “I don’t think that I needed that experience at all. And I think that I’m still going to feel the repercussions of it for maybe a few years.”
“The thing is, I’m very outwardly positive and stuff like that,” Karen adds. “And I am positive. It’s just that some things have really affected me. And it’s more about things that I didn’t really want to remember [from the show].” And, following her admission, she asks if Crayden feels the same way.
As it turns out, Crayden is of a very similar mindset – confessing that she shouldn’t have taken part, either. The former contestant also believes that she might well have been able to swerve the entire experience if she’d done more research initially. However, Crayden does note that she still wouldn’t have been able to predict exactly what happened behind the cameras.
“Knowing what I know now about what really goes on behind the scenes, and what [the show’s] real intentions are and everything, I wouldn’t have done it,” Crayden begins. “[But] I didn’t really do my homework beforehand. I never followed anyone from the previous seasons. I never saw or heard anything super-bad or negative about what goes on.”
“So I wasn’t really prepared for what I was getting myself into. But yeah, knowing what I know now, I definitely wouldn’t have done it,” Crayden concludes. Karen chirps in, “I think a lot of us would say the same thing.” And at this point, the video comes to an end.
Yet while Crayden and Karen certainly weren’t shy in airing their grievances about the show, one of them did find romance soon after. In fact, it’s reported that Crayden formed a relationship with a man named David Holder before the series started airing in February 2020. So perhaps the women are now in the perfect positions to move on with their lives.
But how does this work on other reality shows? We’ve all seen the disclaimers, after all. Yes, the ones that tell the audience that the episodes could mess around with the edit to heighten the drama. But just how real are these so-called factual entertainment shows anyway? And when Seth Rogen and James Franco appeared on Naked and Afraid, just how naked and afraid were they? Well, here’s a closer look at 20 staples of the U.S. TV schedules – including everything from house-hunting ventures to survival missions – that might have been duping their viewers for years.
20. Fixer Upper
HGTV show Fixer Upper sees husband and wife team Joanna and Chip Gaines renovate a property in dire need of some love. The pair ask a prospective buyer, who will benefit from the pair’s DIY expertise, to choose from three different houses for the project. However, it turns out that the decision has usually already been made.
Yes, all the agonized decision-making is just for show – as each client has typically bought the house in question before the Gaines get to work. And that isn’t the only deceit. You see, not every room in the house gets the Fixer Upper treatment. Rumors have floated about that Chip puts down his tools the minute the cameras stop rolling, too.
19. What Not to Wear
What Not to Wear had a pretty impressive run, with Clinton Kelly and Stacy London offering fashion advice across ten seasons. But the pair weren’t always the stylish saviors they professed to be. For one thing, the stars were heavily assisted by another fashion consultant off-camera – according to a Reddit thread. And it’s claimed Kelly and London often left the participants out of pocket.
What’s more, some say those who subjected themselves to a sartorial inspection ended up having all their clothes donated to charity. And sometimes the $5,000 they were given by the show wasn’t enough to build an entirely new wardrobe. To make matters worse, participants reportedly had to shell out for any tailoring and haircuts, too.
18. House Hunters
House Hunters has a simple premise. A couple visit three different properties before deciding on which one they would like to call home. But to make things even simpler, the pair have usually chosen their new abode long before the camera crew comes to town. Its home network, HGTV, sees nothing wrong with this lifehack, though.
In a 2012 statement released to Entertainment Weekly, a representative admitted, “We’re making a television show, so we manage certain production and time constraints while honoring the home-buying process. To maximize production time, we seek out families who are pretty far along in the process. Often everything moves much more quickly than we can anticipate, so we go back and revisit some of the homes that the family has already seen and we capture their authentic reactions.”
17. The Real Housewives
The Real Housewives franchise is unarguably the jewel in Bravo’s reality TV crown. The shows follow the day-to-day lives of various impossibly rich women from across the United States. Cue a whole host of luxurious getaways, astonishing spending sprees and – perhaps most notably – dramatic catfights. When it comes to the last, however, it seems that the housewives are simply playing pretend.
This is despite producers likely claiming that all the heated debates on display are entirely authentic. You see, during the filming of one particular episode in New York, onlookers reportedly noticed something very odd about these unscripted interactions. The crowd said that not only would those involved constantly pause for the benefit of the cameramen, but they would also often reshoot their conversations several times, too.
16. Beachfront Bargain Hunt
Beachfront Bargain Hunt producers certainly used their fair share of artistic license for one particular episode. The HGTV show sees realtors guide interested parties through several beachfront properties before asking them to settle on one. However, on one occasion, the property professional featured essentially ended up showing herself and her husband around their own home!
How did this happen? Well, when the realtor couldn’t find a client with a property that met producers’ stipulations, she informed them that her recently acquired home did. Subsequently, she and her partner ended up playing both agent and buyer for the cameras. The pair also had to pretend that it was the height of summer when, in fact, it was the end of winter.
15. Say Yes to the Dress
One of TLC’s longest-running reality shows, Say Yes to the Dress does exactly what it implies in the title. A bride chooses the outfit in which she will walk down the aisle – with assistance from her loved ones and a fashion expert. Unfortunately for the newlywed-to-be, though, the experience is never as glamorous as it looks on camera.
For one thing, the size of the New York boutique is much tinier than most expect. Brides generally are only given about 90 minutes to choose their dress for the big day, too, and they reportedly only get a small selection to peruse. And it’s said the resident expert will often persuade several participants to choose the same dress as a way of saving time and earning more money.
14. Basketball Wives
Basketball Wives has made stars of those who would normally be in the shadows of their sporting partners. Jackie Christie, the spouse of NBA star Doug, and Shaunie O’Neal, the ex-wife of the legendary Shaquille, are just two of the names who have risen to fame on the reality show. But some of its cast members wish they’d never signed up.
Tanya Young, the ex-wife of basketball great Jayson Williams, was one such disgruntled participant. In an article for website The Daily Beast, Young claimed that the constant disharmony on the show was all stirred up by producers behind the scenes. In a chat with Complex, NBA star Matt Barnes also alleged that Basketball Wives is essentially a scripted drama.
13. Love It or List It
Airing on HGTV from 2008 until 2015, Love It or List It supposedly gave homeowners quite the dilemma: buy a new house chosen by a realtor or stick with their current place that the show has given an incredible makeover. However, the decision you see on camera isn’t necessarily the one that was made away from it.
In a revealing Reddit thread, one individual alleged that their uncle and aunt had been asked to film two separate endings for the show. Producers then selected which take made for better TV. In this particular example, the couple decided to stay put – but were shown putting their house on the market.
Bridezillas has become one of the most popular wedding-based reality shows thanks to its never-ending array of participants prone to throwing tantrums over the tiniest setback. You may wonder why anyone would willingly sign up for a show whose title implies they are some kind of monster. Well, it turns out that apparently, some don’t.
One bridezilla, Julia Swinton-Williams, believed that she was partaking in a slightly more refined documentary with the name of Manhattan Bride while filming took place. And she ended up filing a lawsuit against producers for the apparent deceit. Cynthia Silver, another demanding bride-to-be, alleged that she was also subjected to similar trickery.
11. Property Brothers
Property Brothers episodes usually begin with prospective buyers falling in love with houses – only to be informed that they’re way out of their price ranges. Hosts Jonathan and Drew Scott then help them to find other, cheaper properties that can be transformed into their ideal homes. But all this initial heartbreak is all just for show.
Yes, to make it on to the show, a participant already has to be in the process of renovating or purchasing a fixer-upper. So all the footage of them walking around a completely different dream property is only to heighten all the drama. And this means that realtor brother Drew is essentially surplus to requirements.
10. Mystery Diners
Mystery Diners is supposed to shame those restaurant workers who slack off while cooking, cleaning or serving. In one episode, for instance, a man dubbed Chef Dave was shown to be responsible for the notable amount of food and supplies that went missing in Arizona eatery The Grove Bar and Grill. However, this particular chef didn’t need to worry about never finding employment again.
And that’s because the man in question was allegedly never a chef in the first place. Yes, reportedly Dave Germain wasn’t a thieving cook at all – but an actor playing one. And his ties with the showbiz industry don’t end there. He also owns the Tempe-based company known as Disjointed Productions LLC.
9. Breaking Amish
The Amish community has often been a source of intrigue in the genre of reality TV. And in 2012 TLC decided to shine the spotlight on five youngsters leaving their secluded community for the bright lights of the Big Apple in Breaking Amish. However, this wasn’t the massive culture shock that the show claimed it to be.
Online reports claimed Jeremiah Raber, one of the teens featured in the show, had already spent time outside his Amish community. Abe and Rebecca, meanwhile, were supposed to have only clapped eyes on each other for the first time during filming. Yet according to the Daily Mail, the pair were already an item – and indeed parents – when cameras started rolling.
8. Jersey Shore
Jersey Shore was undoubtedly one of the defining reality shows of the 2000s. The MTV series launched the likes of Nicole Polizzi, a.k.a. Snooki, to worldwide fame – and even spawned a British spin-off, Geordie Shore. But the wild and rowdy behavior you often saw on screen wasn’t exactly spontaneous.
According to a Daily Beast interview with a Jersey Shore extra, everything about the show was scripted to within an inch of its life. Remember that dramatic showdown between Vinny Guadagnino and Pauly D? Well, the pair were apparently coerced into fighting directly under a streetlamp to create a perfectly lit scene.
7. Storage Wars
Storage Wars might not be the most glamorous of reality TV shows. But it’s struck a chord with nosey viewers who have always wondered exactly what kind of things people like to hoard in such giant lockers. But some skeptics believe that the contents shown aren’t entirely what they seem.
Perhaps worried that the lockers opened may not contain anything remotely of value, producers have allegedly taken to planting items inside them. This would then ensure that those attending the auction have something to bid on, ramping up the drama. However, publicists for the show’s network, A&E, have denied that such interference takes place.
6. Undercover Boss
It’s hard to imagine that anyone being followed by an unconvincingly disguised recruit on camera doesn’t realize they’re on Undercover Boss. The CBS show has been on air since 2010, after all. But it’s not the employees’ reactions that have been questioned when it comes to the authenticity of the series.
At the end of each episode, the undercover boss typically claims that they will make positive changes within their company based on what they’ve witnessed. Unfortunately for their employees, though, these promises can turn out to be empty. According to reports, many bosses will end up completely forgetting what they said once they go back to the day job.
5. South Beach Tow
You perhaps can’t blame producers for trying to stir things up a bit on South Beach Tow. It would undoubtedly have been tough to make four seasons of a series about a car-towing company without a little creative tinkering, after all. But if reports are to be believed, the makers of the truTV show surely went a little overboard with their interference.
Allegedly, there was hardly anything real about the day-to-day running of the Miami Beach-based towing company featured on the show. According to reports, each storyline, including the dramatic rivalry with a neighboring firm, came from a script. You may also be surprised to know that one of its creators was none other than all-singing, all-dancing Hollywood star Jennifer Lopez!
4. Cake Boss
Running for no fewer than ten seasons, Cake Boss followed the fortunes of Carlo’s Bakery and its owner Buddy Valastro. The TLC show featured a mouth-watering array of wedding, birthday and other celebration cakes during its lengthy run. But although the cakes were very real, it seems the same couldn’t always be said of the events surrounding them.
Yes, many of the occasions for which the Valastro family were shown busy preparing were staged purely for the series. And although Buddy is indeed the head honcho at the family establishment, he’s not exactly as involved as the cameras portrayed. In fact, it’s claimed he’s barely at the cake shop when the crew isn’t around.
3. Pawn Queens
Airing in 2010, Pawn Queens lasted just ten episodes before being pulled by its home network, TLC. Perhaps viewers could sense that the whole thing was a sham? Apparently, the two women portrayed as long-time aspiring pawnshop owners had never had such a dream. They reportedly auditioned for the show without knowing anything about what it entailed.
In fact, it seems one of the two main stars had been a dental assistant who had no experience or knowledge of the pawnshop industry. To try and get audiences invested, then, producers allegedly came up with an entirely fictional backstory for her in which she’d always been fascinated with opening a store. But viewers evidently didn’t buy it.
2. Duck Dynasty
It would probably be quicker to list the things that are real about Duck Dynasty than those that aren’t. Even the Robertson family themselves have freely admitted that they regularly talk over storylines with producers before filming begins. It’s a process that the hirsute duck hunters have described as “guided reality.”
But perhaps one of the Robertsons’ most surprising acts of deception is their appearances. The men of the family are renowned for the long beards that would put even ZZ Top to shame. And yet pictures taken long before they ever graced the A&E network show they were all once preppy-looking and entirely clean-shaven.
1. Naked and Afraid
Naked and Afraid is one of the most revealing reality shows out there – literally. Yes, as its title implies, those who are transported to a remote, isolated setting are then stripped bare in the ultimate survival challenge. However, it turns out that participants aren’t left to fend for themselves as much as the show claims.
Although contestants are supposed to live off the land entirely, producers are apparently all too happy to give them certain supplies. Tampons, vitamins and prescription medication are just a few of the items that are allegedly dished out to wannabe survivalists away from the cameras. So participants may be naked, but it seems like they don’t necessarily need to be afraid. The episode featuring Seth Rogen and James Franco was a hilarious spoof of the whole scenario, too.