Sunday, December 07, 2014

Blind weddings in new reality series

(Dec. 1, PDI Entertainment)
By Oliver M. Pulumbarit

“The initial challenge was arranging blind marriages,” said Dr. Logan Levkoff, one of the behavior experts in the reality series “Married at First Sight,” in a phone interview. “These people had never met, so [we took] on this huge intellectual and emotional challenge.”

Each episode shows two strangers, who were screened and analyzed by four experts—a therapist, anthropologist, clinical psychologist and spiritual adviser. The participants were then fashioned into a perfect match. They got married and were followed around to see if they truly are compatible.

Levkoff, a sexuality and relationship expert, said she and her team had difficulty creating ideal couples.
She noted, “It was certainly an overwhelming process. What I loved about this experiment was that there were four of us looking at individuals through different lenses.”

Levkoff, also one of the show’s narrators, met up with the couples and newlyweds throughout the series: “I was responsible for interviewing them, and giving them lots of paperwork, scales and questionnaires. I got to be in other people’s lives, but I also got to speak to the audience as an expert,” she said.

Levkoff, who has written about sex and sexuality for the Huffington Post website, revealed problems that she encountered both on and off the show.

“I get a sense of who people are as sexual beings and what their values are, and whether I think they’ll be intellectually compatible with respect to sex, but can I know for certain… when they meet, if they’ll have instant sexual chemistry? No, I can’t,” she said.

“But [on the show] I got to ask the right questions, to see if our couples were willing to give a relationship like that a shot. Did they believe attraction could grow over time? Did anyone just expect there to be a physical connection and that’s it? In life, what I find most… frustrating is that we get so much misinformation about sex and sexuality and what it means to be a man or a woman, that none of us really feel comfortable speaking up for ourselves and being who we are!”However, she added, viewers can find relatable situations from this experiment.

“Everyone [will] see something of themselves in the stories that unfold. The commentary from viewers, the way they discuss what’s going on with a couple, and how they take that information and work it into their own relationships have been the most wonderful, surprising benefits of this show. There is a lot of take-home values.”

(“Married at First Sight” airs Wednesday to Friday, 10 p.m. on Lifetime.)

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