For better or for worse, the five Louisiana couples on this season's "Married at First Sight" have already made show history even before the finale airs on Wednesday.
Thanks to the coronavirus pandemic, the strangers/newlyweds' eight-week reality show experience ballooned into four months, a first for the Lifetime series in its 11 seasons. Only a month into their marriages, production was halted on the show, but the couples still filmed themselves going through the "new normal" of stay-at-home orders, social-distancing and masking up.
The premise of the show is this: After being matched up by relationship experts — Dr. Viviana Coles, Dr. Pepper Schwartz and the Rev. Cal Roberson — each couple first meets in front of family and friends gathered for their wedding ceremony. They say their "I do's" and spend the next weeks living together (this season at Gotham Lofts in New Orleans' warehouse district) and figuring out if they're really a match. On "decision day," each must announce if they'd like to stay or end their marriages.
"I would like to get a divorce," Amani says in a preview of the finale that aired at the end of last week's episode.
Is this just the hook to lure viewers into the finale, or does she mean business? After all, Amani and Woody (the show uses only first names for privacy reasons) appear to be one of two couples most likely to stay the marriage course.
The chemistry was there from the get-go for Amani, a 29-year-old who works in the nonprofit sector, and Woody, 30, a teacher and coach. Things have progressed from there as the couple discovered shared interests, engaged in lengthy discussions of their wants and needs in the marriage, and yes, got intimate.
"If any two people are meant for each other, I think they are," says Yvonne, Woody's grandmother.
But has Amani had a change of heart for her "boo"? Guess we'll find out.
Equally promising is the Amelia-Bennett pairing. Both fun-loving free spirits, 27-year-old Amelia is a recent medical school graduate, while Bennett, 28, is the artistic director of a theatre company. From their quirky PJs to their homemade wall art, these two seem to fit.
But that didn't stop Amelia from seeking advice from witch/tarot card reader Mimi. Pulling the Nine of Swords card during an online reading, Mimi offered: "This is fear, anxieties, your own stuff that you've got going on. This is where I'm going to tell you something you're probably not going to like. It's just kind of like making sure that you don't overthink the situation. If you put yourself into that …"
At that moment, Amelia lost internet connection with her virtual psychic. Is that a sign, too?
Then there's Baton Rouge native Karen, 30, a health care project manager, and her match, Miles, a 26-year-old teacher. Karen is the more reserved, cautious type to Miles' more happy-go-lucky, big teddy bear personality. They've had their ups and downs, with affection and intimacy being their biggest challenge.
Intimacy has likewise been a roadblock for 30-year-old Christina, a flight attendant, and Henry, 35, a clinical recruiter. On paper, the two are polar opposites. Christina's adventurous, while Henry's happily immersed in his comfort zone. Trust issues have also arisen during their marriage's first four months, and that ultimately may lead to their breakup.
Meanwhile, Olivia and Brett didn't wait until "decision day" to make up their minds. Brett packed his bags a few weeks before and headed home.
"You and I both know that we want different things out of life," he told Olivia by phone after she discovered his things (and the pantry's contents) gone from their apartment.
"It's a bitter pill to swallow," said Olivia, eventually moving out as well.
However, the finale preview also teases with Olivia and Brett showing up for decision time, so anything is possible. Will Brett ask for a do-over?
"I think I would listen and probably ask a lot of questions about what he thinks he can do differently, but I don't know," Olivia says. "I just want to be in love more than anything … I'm just ready."
"Married at First Sight" airs at 7 p.m. Wednesday on Lifetime (cable Channel 26 in Baton Rouge and Lafayette, and cable Channel 34 in New Orleans). A "look back" compilation show follows at 9 p.m. A reunion special airs on Nov. 4.