Channel Seven’s ‘controversial social experiment’ The Super Switch was a turn off for viewers in its Tuesday debut, leading to questions about whether we’re falling out of love with TV love.
The network was hoping to emulate the success of Nine’s Married at First Sight, which wrapped up two months ago after a record-breaking sixth season.
So The Super Switch came complete with MAFS’ main ingredients – Insta-worthy millenials with alleged romance problems and experts keen to fix them – but drew a “disappointing” audience of 481,000.
That was about a third of Nine’s rival reality offering The Voice (1.385 million).
It was also out rated by its stablemate Andrew Denton: Interview, (678,000) Ten’s MasterChef (872,000) and SBS’s Who Do You Think You Are? (570,000).
“Maybe people are just getting sick of watching other people fight and flirt at dinner parties,” a TV industry insider told The New Daily.
The Super Switch‘s first-up ratings “were less than expected”, a Seven spokesperson said.
“However, they’re not the most accurate guide to the performance of a whole series these days – especially in the reality genre which lends itself to binge watching on demand.”
The network “expects” The Super Switch to increase its audience.
“We have a great cast, and the evolution of the couples makes for good viewing on any platform,” the spokesperson told The New Daily.
“In the end it’s all about the storytelling and this program will deliver it spectacularly over the course of the series.”
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A super sized version of 2017’s Seven Year Switch, the show’s main points of difference from MAFS is its couple-swapping format and the casting of real couples instead of matching singles on camera.
“It’s MAFS Lite, which is a good business model on paper. You’re replacing fake affairs with controlled partner swapping,” the TV source told The New Daily.
“Seven is promoting the show as controversial while painting the couple switcheroo as a positive, so they’re having a bet each way.”
New rules, new room, new partner – everything the couples know will be turned upside down 🙍🙍♂️
— The Super Switch (@thesuperswitch) June 12, 2019
Even as it smashed ratings records this year, MAFS was slammed for its storylines involving domestic violence and infidelity.
Similar complaints were aimed at The Super Switch, with social media users attacking the “immoral” show as “setting people up to help them cheat”.
One Twitter user said it was “a big swingers’ party.”
Others praised The Super Switch as “addictive” and with “better” resident experts than the publicly-maligned trio on MAFS.
“The whole point about a switch partner is to be able to hear feedback from someone not invested in you like a partner,” the show’s psychotherapist Guy Vickers, 54, told The New Daily.
“It’s a lot easier to hear that truthful criticism from someone you’re not intimately connected to. It’s about learning to ‘open my ears and shut my mouth’.”
Without professional help, couples should be wary of trying a separation at home to heal a floundering romance, Mr Vickers said.
“This is TV. It’s not proper therapy. It’s not deep personal work.
“Separation can be helpful if there’s too much heat and you have to get out of the kitchen for a while.
“But if you’re going to be make it work, you need to be together. Conflict isn’t the problem. It’s how to manage the problem,” he said.
Why did he sign up for The Super Switch?
“I see the experts involved as genuinely trying to help people,” said Mr Vickers, who has been working in his field since 1994.
“I understand how little good help there is. People aren’t getting the help they need.
“Yes, it is entertainment, but hopefully some good messages can get through.”