Marry Me, Marry My Family is the antidote we need to Married At First Sight


Marry Me, Marry My Family

SBS, Tuesday, 8.40pm

Most weddings are fraught with some type of drama. If, like me, your oh-so-white self married another whitey and you both came from all-white-on-the-night families, the biggest hurdle you had to overcome was probably a black sheep uncle (who, in my case, was very definitely not black, just a jerk).

So I can't imagine what it must have been like for Nancy, an Armenian Christian, to cope with a family who can barely accept her relationship with the lovely Ashu, an Indian Hindu.

It's one thing to be not on board with your child's choice of partner, but quite another to constantly mutter darkly about how you wished you had never left Armenia because if you had stayed your only daughter would be married to a good Armenian man.

Nancy's mother even tells a guest at the wedding, who had tried to tell her that "the heart does not have a religion", that a dog cannot marry a cat, therefore an Armenian cannot marry an Indian.

It's easy to roll an eye at the mother's misery guts attitude - and Ashu's family are genuinely baffled by her unwillingness to celebrate what they see as a beautiful union - but there is real pain there, deeply rooted in culture and tradition.

Nancy and Ashu are one of six couples profiled in this three-part documentary series, which shows how much some couples go through just to say "I do" and the complications - and joys - their families can bring.

It's heartwarming stuff - I teared up at Ashu's wedding speech, which beautifully captured what modern-day Australia really is - and it's the perfect antidote to the so-called "search for love" being peddled on Nine's Married At First Sight or Ten's The Bachelor and Bachelorette.

While Married At First Sight is busy faking weddings between bogans for ratings, Marry Me, Marry My Family quietly shows Ashu converting to Christianity so he can marry Nancy. Where's the sensationalism in that?

Imagine if last year's Bachelor Matty J had to spend two hours of a "home visit" bargaining with Laura's family about her dowry (goats being the gift du jour), as Mark and Wambui - the second couple in tonight's episode - do in Kenya.

I'm sure the struggle is real for some of these reality couples - Sophie Monk may have to leave the Gold Coast for her multimillionaire beau's digs in Sydney - but none of them is crying when confronted with a Kenyan slum not far from their in-law's house.

And don't tell the casting directors of Married At First Sight and the Bachelor/ette, but there were brown people in the first episode of Marry Me, Marry My Family and it was very watchable. Diversity, huh? Who would have thought?

It is often said Australians love seeing themselves on screen - it's why shows such as Australian Story and Back Roads are popular and partly explains the success of Kath and Kim.

And it's for this reason that I hope Marry Me, Marry My Family gets the audience it deserves. Because this is the Australia of today. I mean, where else is a skip-truck driver from Adelaide going to meet a gorgeous Kenyan woman? The casino, that's where. How Aussie is that?

This story Marry Me, Marry My Family is the antidote we need to Married At First Sight first appeared on The Sydney Morning Herald.