Last night, we became increasingly concerned about displays of controlling and coercive behaviour in Channel 4’s Married at First Sight.

We have received complaints that the relationship shown on screen between contestants, Franky and Marilyse, is both shocking and disturbing.

Viewers saw Franky display a series of worrying behaviour where he appeared controlling and aggressive. In one scene, Franky snapped at his wife Marilyse, instructing her to ‘maybe when I speak, don’t speak.’

Viewers took to Twitter last night to express concerns over the show, posting that ‘Franky is just one huge red flag’, while another viewer questioned why Franky still remains on the show, despite his abusive behaviour — when a female contestant (from a previous episode) was rightfully disqualified from the show for shouting abuse. It appears that Franky is not required to show accountability and is being excused for his behaviour — this is sending a dangerous message.

The relationship on-screen includes what looks like humiliation, belittling and intimidation — which is not what a healthy relationship looks like. These are all characteristics of coercive control, which has been a criminal offence since 2015.

Other contestants and experts on the show have also shared concerns over Franky’s behaviour towards his partner Marilyse — but it appears producers have overlooked this. Abuse is not entertainment, and producers should step in when relationships on screen are taking a sinister turn.

We urge the producers and experts of Married at First Sight to recognise abuse when it is happening on the show, and to acknowledge the influence it may have on viewers.

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