Married at First Sight

Behind the Scenes of Married At First Sight With Executive Producer Sam Dean

The long wait for Season 3 of Married at First Sight, has finally come to an end. The docu-series that became a phenomenal overnight success in season 1, will premiere tonight on A&E and  FYI at 9/8c. 

No one is more excited than Kinetic Content Executive Producer, Sam Dean, who has also produced, The Taste and America’s Got Talent

The series, Married at First Sight was created by Michael von W├╝rden, managing director of the Danish TV production company Snowman Productions. In this extreme social experiment, six brave singles that yearn for a life-long partnership, agree to legally marry a complete stranger the moment they first meet. 

However, we all know that finding love is Universal. I had the opportunity to get a behind the scenes look from Sam Dean, at producing the American version. Her lens is nothing less than fascinating. 

Kinetic Content Executive Producer, Sam Dean
Photo credit: ET

What intrigued you to sign on as the executive producer of Married at First Sight?

This was an exciting and unique project that completely intrigued me. The couples legally marry as strangers and they face divorce if it doesn’t work out. This show has incredibly real stakes. 

How did you first get introduced to the show?

I watched and fell in love with the original Danish series and relished the challenge to re-version the format for the US.

What are your thoughts behind the show’s concept?  

The show was born from the fact there are more singles today than any other time in history; people are continually looking for better options in the swipe right/ swipe left culture we now live in. Therefore, this social experiment questioned if we stood a better chance at finding the one if we allowed relationship experts to find our partner for us.

We are observing whether or not starting with marriage and commitment makes it harder to just walk away at the first sign of trouble. I found the premise compelling as love and relationships are a basic human need and yet, a struggle for almost everyone. It is a completely fascinating experiment; it’s raw and unpredictable.

You’ve referred to Married at First Sight as an observational docu-series. From your lens as a producer, how does it differ from other relationship reality TV shows?

The candidates are not put in a fantasy situation and their actions are not scripted. They are legally married and they face a real divorce if it doesn’t work. The production helps by organizing the weddings, as well as sending them on honeymoons. However, all other decisions are theirs, including but not limited to; deciding where to live, how to combine their finances, how to deal with their families and ultimately, whether or not they want to stay married or get a divorce.

We hope the couples will fall in love and experience a long and happy marriage, but their happily ever after is absolutely in their hands. We can give them the vehicle, tell them to fasten their seat belts and teach them how to drive, but we cannot force them to drive it, nor can we control how they drive.

We certainly saw that last season. Extensive research from experts can find perfect matches on paper, but marriage still takes a mutual commitment from both parties and hard work, every single day. 

After following couples in the New York area for seasons 1 & 2, what prompted the move to Atlanta for season 3?

In order to maximize the likelihood of marital success, we need to ensure we have enough choices for the experts to consider. We start by doing a nationwide search, which then allows us to determine the areas that offer the most diversity and potential candidates. We look for large and diverse metropolitan areas. Atlanta met our criteria. Furthermore, we are aware that throughout America, people struggle with finding love and commitment. It isn’t just a New York issue.

Kinetic Content CEO, Chris Coelen Photo credit:  The Hollywood Reporter

In People Magazine, Kinetic Content CEO, Chris Coelen stated the number of applicants for season 1 was less than 1,000, season 2 was more than 7,000 and season 3 was over 20,000. To what do you attribute the exponential growth of people wanting to participate in such a radical social experiment? 

In season 1, the experiment was brand new and nobody knew what to expect. Now people have seen the experiment and many have been compelled to apply as a result. The desire to be loved and be in love is a fundamental human need, yet nobody finds it easy. Single culture has become an epidemic and many people are lonely and prepared to try a new approach to achieving their romantic goals, as indicated by the fact that online dating is now a multi-billion dollar industry. Married at First Sight offers a new approach to the idea of arranged marriage which has been tried and tested for centuries. 

Read: Married at First Sight’s Executive Producer Defends ‘Thorough’ Process for Creating Matches

Show expert, clinical psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona shared with me the initial search for participants was approximately 5-6 months. Can you tell us the length of time for the final selection process and has this remained the same from season to season?

Each series has been different depending on how many people were in the pool; how many people dropped out at various stages; and ultimately, when experts were convinced they had a solid match. They will not approve a match based solely on the initial production schedule.

Read: Married at First Sight From the Lens of Psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona

What specific characteristics are you looking for that would make someone a good candidate to get Married at First Sight?

First and foremost, the experts are looking for candidates who want to be married, are ready for commitment and committed to the idea of marriage; candidates who understand why they want to be married, candidates who are self-reflective, self-aware, willing to be vulnerable, will to to let their guard down and willing to learn and grow.

Psychologist Dr. Joseph Cilona, Socoiologist, Dr. Pepper Schwartz,
Spiritual Advisor, Greg Epstein and Sexologist, Dr. Logan Levkoff
Photo credit: FYI

A key concept that sets Kinetic Content above others is the inclusion of clinical and relationship experts in shows like, Married at First Sight, Seven Year Switch and the newest series to premiere December 8th, Black Love. Can you share from your perspective, the value you place on this for viewers?

I can comment specifically on Married at First Sight. Ultimately, we want the couples and candidates to benefit from this experiment. This is certainly not a perfect science and we absolutely cannot guarantee the marriages will work. However, we want them to have the best chance at achieving marital success  and also the best support possible, both during and after the experiment.

In Married at First Sight, a psychologist, sexologist, sociologist and spiritual advisor evaluate the candidates. They are experts in human relationships and behavior. They each do their own research related to their areas of expertise. We place great value on the role of the experts; they ultimately choose which couples will marry. Then they support the couples throughout the process. 

The analysis, advice and assignments they set throughout production are not only beneficial for the candidates, but also for viewers. I think all of us can relate to the advice the experts give. What’s more, I think the assignments they set are helpful to any marriage.

I couldn’t agree with you more. My husband and I have been married for 36 years and we learn something new each week. It leads us to having great conversations, ultimately improving our communication and respect.

Married at First Sight Season 3 participants: Vanessa Nelson, Neil Bowlus,
Ashley Doherty, David Norton, Samantha Role and Tres Russell. FYI

Finally, is there anything new we can expect to see in season 3?

The experts will make their matches in Atlanta, with the intention of finding 3 new couples who will marry at first sight. For the first time, we are in the South, full of Southern charm and Southern hospitality.


Thirteen episodes will shock, awe and inspire viewers, starting tonight with a 2 hour/15 minute matchmaking special and a 1 hour/15 minute episode premiere. 

Watch Season 3 of Married at First Sight Tuesdays at 9/8c on FYI and A&E

Follow me on Twitter @realitvwithbee and live tweet using #MarriedAtFirstSight or #MAFS