For the past seven long seasons of Married At First Sight Australia, viewers across Australia became incredibly familiar with the three faces that comprised the panel of ‘experts’—John Aiken, Mel Schilling and of course, Dr Trisha Stratford.
But when Channel Nine began advertising the most recent eighth season, fans were quick to point out that Dr Trisha was missing from the lineup. And after an announcement made via the MAFS Instagram, it was confirmed that the most quiet of the three was not returning in 2021.
At the time, her statement explained that much to our surprise, she had chosen to step back from the spotlight and spend time on her more personal ventures, like writing, research and neuropsychotherapy. It read:
“After seven seasons of Married At First Sight I have decided to step back from the television series to focus on my writing, research and neuropsychotherapy. I’ve been involved right from the beginning in the challenge of bringing this social experiment to television. The program provides a platform for an ongoing conversation on relationships and I wish the program continued success and hope future participants find everlasting love.”
And while many assumed that she had merely moved on, there was more behind her choice to quit one of the country’s most popular reality TV shows.
In an interview with Women’s Day New Zealand, Trisha spoke candidly about her decision to leave the show, claiming that it made her “feel sick” at times for allowing the brides and grooms to incur psychological damage as a result of the show.
“By the end, I couldn’t compromise my professional and personal standards because there were participants on the show who I felt shouldn’t have been there. If someone gets through the critical selection process, when we say we don’t want them on the show because they’re quite fragile, they’re not going to do well after the show.”
In Dr Trisha‘s own words, she explains how MAFS was initially intended to be harmless and was written as a legitimate social experiment or “observational documentary”, which was the reason why she chose to sign up. However, once it rapidly grew in popularity, the show’s premise changed dramatically and in turn, made her realise that perhaps it was time to go back to a career where she could help others.
“It got super-sized, a bit like MasterChef, into what we know as MAFS now. The participants we got in season six and seven were so outrageous and outside the norm that it wasn’t what I signed up for. At a couple of dinner parties I felt sick. I felt in my guts that this wasn’t what I’d want to be watching at home on TV.”
With her background in psychology, it only made sense that she grew increasingly concerned about the mental wellbeing of each bride and groom, after witnessing what production put them through. Tensions grew so strong that she even compared being on the show to experiencing a “conflict in war zones”.
Of course, MAFS wasted no time in finding a replacement for Dr Trisha, swapping her out for Peurto Rican sexologist Alessandra Rampolla, who has unfortunately already found herself deep in her own on-screen drama.
And while Dr Trisha’s concerns are completely valid and a solution should be actioned, by the look of this season, there seem to be no changes in the works.