America's favorite social experiment Married At First Sight returned tonight and this time it was on a new network (Lifetime) and in a new city (Chicago).
The premise of the series is somewhat controversial: The show takes six participants who agree to blindly marry a stranger. The couples are matched up with the help of relationship experts who take personality, religion, and lifestyle into account to come up with their super scientific matches — however, with only a 25 percent success rate, the "experts" haven't been looking so good in the eyes of viewers.
Because of the backlash, the first episode of season five kicks off with all three experts, Pepper Schwartz, Rachel DeAlto, and Calvin Roberson, reiterating how serious they take the matchmaking process.
Just look at those thinking faces — intense.
However, the experts also explain that matching the couples is only step one of the process. The couples are expected to put in some work, too. Or, as Pastor Calvin puts it...
So let's meet the couples.
The first couple introduced is Ashley and Anthony. Ashley is a bar manager who, at the ancient age of 30, is disappointed that she doesn't have kids by now. "My biggest fear is never finding the one," she says. As for Anthony, he's a 32-year-old Marketing Executive who's a fun-loving Italian guy looking for a fun-loving Italian girl. Oh, did we mention Ashley is Italian?
After their introductions, Dr. Pepper drops by Anthony's house to tell him she's found his match and that he's getting married in two weeks. Anthony is excited, of course, but then tells Dr. Pepper that he had a dream the previous night of flipping over a card that had an "A" on it. Considering he's getting married to Ashley, it's a bit eerie. With psychic abilities like that, he could put Long Island Medium out of work.
Next up is Sheila and Nathan.
Sheila is a good Christian girl who's waiting for a guy who's just as religious as she is. Nathan is a 25-year-old Car Rental Manager who wants the same thing. Pastor Calvin reiterates that religion was the major factor for why these two were matched, as if we couldn't come to that conclusion ourselves.
And lastly, we have Danielle and Cody.
Danielle is a 30-year-old dietician who thought she would be married by now, and Cody is a 25-year-old gym owner who insists he's more mature than his age. Relationship expert Rachel says they were paired because of their love for fitness, but honestly, we think they were paired because Danielle has the most awesome dog on the planet. Just look at him!
Next, the couples break the news to their families.
Ashley is the first to tell her family the news that she's getting married to a stranger, and honestly, her dad's face says more than words can.
Same goes for Danielle's mom, who shot her an epic side eye.
Pretty much everyone's families take the news well — except for Sheila's and Nathan's. Nathan's mom in particular is not happy — however, she says she'll come to the wedding anyway so that she can judge him in person.
Next up, dress and tux fittings!
All the brides get fitted for their gowns and all the men pick out their tuxes. During this scene, Nathan — who, keep in mind, is a self-described "fundamentalist Christian"— says something a bit odd:
Um...isn't worshipping false idols a sin, though? Hmm.
However, Nathan drops another bomb. His 17-year-old brother, Tyrique, lives with him. Nathan confesses to the camera that he hopes his soon-to-be bride will be totes cool with having his little brother live with them — full time!
Oh, it gets worse. "I figure she’s gonna be apprehensive," Nathan says about the whole "little bro" situation. "But I’m a stranger and she’s agreeing to marry me, so. Must be a piece of cake, right?”
Next, everyone has their bachelor/bachelorette parties.
It's the night before the big day, and all the participants decide to party and have fun. Everyone's parties have the same theme going on: pink boas, glittery sunglasses, goblets full of wine with "BRIDE" or "GROOM" plastered across. You get the picture.
As for Nathan, he kicks off his bachelor party with a prayer. Awww.
An hour later.
Anthony also had some fun with strippers — so much fun that he broke into an impromptu jazz performance, using a stripper's butt as his bongos.
The wedding day.
The next morning everyone wakes up and immediately starts drinking.
While getting ready, the couples reveal that they all purchased gifts for their soon-to-be brides/grooms. It's actually a very cute moment. To maintain secrecy, a production assistant delivers the gifts. Ashley gives Anthony football tickets, Sheila gives Nathan a framed letter, Danielle gives Cody a liquor set, and Nathan gives Sheila a literal crown ("It's to show that I care, cause I could have easily given her, like, a gift card," Nathan says).
However, the most baffling gift is Anthony's, who gives his beautiful bride Ashley six almonds.
She was a good sport about it, though.
Finally, the ceremonies!
Ahh, the moment we've all been waiting for. Each groom enters their respective ceremonies first.
Anthony charms the wedding party, cause that's the kind of guy he is.
Nathan also won high remarks from his bride's family, who said they "approved."
The episode ends on Cody, who nervously waits for his bride to walk through the door.
The camera zooms on Danielle who's pacing outside the door and eventually says, "I can't do this." Cue the dramatic music. If you want to find out who actually gets married to whom, you have to watch episode two.
Check out the gallery below to learn more about the season five cast, as well as the show's experts.