Cheryl shops for her wedding dress in a scene from the TV series Married At First Sight.
Cheryl shops for her wedding dress in a scene from the TV series Married At First Sight. MARC GRIMWADE

Married At First Sight overhauled for its fourth season

DOES the new season of Married At First Sight borrow from The Bachelor?

I felt an odd sense of deja vu while watching a preview of the reality dating show, which has been overhauled for its fourth season.

There were lovelorn singles all meeting up in Sydney, champagne glasses clinking, probing conversations about love and past relationships, and expectations - by one man in particular - that seemed completely unrealistic.

Rather than the usual four or five couples, who are matched by relationship experts and meet for the first time at the altar, the show is pairing up a massive 20 singles into 10 couples.

This year's series starts with the grooms and brides meeting each other at makeshift bucks and hens parties.

It felt very similar to those awkward first cocktail parties on The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, where the guys and girls are making small talk about how they want to find "the one'' as they wait for the guest of honour to arrive (in this case the three matchmaking experts), just with a fewer candles, flowers or lanterns.

In previous seasons, the couples didn't meet each other until closer to the end of their experimental marriages at a dinner party which always ended in tears for someone.

The idea in this new format is for the guys and girls to support or find solace in each other during the expanded eight-week "social experiment''.

After their weddings and honeymoons, assuming they survive those, the couples will then all live together under one roof in a Sydney apartment block.

This new living arrangement - previously couples moved into one another's actual homes - is sure to throw up a lot more drama.

Busybodies will be able to meddle in the business of the other couples, and there's the potential for sparks to fly between people not matched up by the matchmakers.

It's a scenario that's not that far-fetched, considering two of the women from last year's season of The Bachelor ended up getting together after failing to find love with the man they were collectively dating, Richie Strahan.

Channel 9 made a sneak peek of the first episode available for a limited time on Thursday on its 9Now website but if you missed that you can tune in to the proper Married At First Sight series premiere on Monday at 7.30pm.