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Destroying relationships in science’s name: how reality TV ‘experiments’ wreck lives

Justifying outrageous television as a ‘social experiment’ isn’t new, but exploitative shows are increasingly using it to tear couples apart – and no one believes them It’s incredible what producers can get away with on reality TV if it is done under the guise of a “social experiment”. Ever since Big Brother’s early noughties launch, the term has been used to evade scrutiny, but as the genre’s offerings get more bizarre and difficult to defend, it’s a claim that’s increasingly made. Some of the most outrageous shows have justified their existence this way. We’ve seen pseudoscience rationalise the exploratory marriages of The Spouse House, which puts 14 singles into accelerated relationships for eight weeks in the hopes of leaving the mansion engaged. Married at First Sight described its gimmick of having couples meet for the first time at the altar as a “groundbreaking experiment”. And the supposed justification of Love Is Blind, which has taken the world by storm over the past few years? According to its description on Netflix, contestants talk to each other and even get engaged without ever seeing the other person, all in the name of a “social experiment”. Continue reading...

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