02/04/2016 6:18 PM AEDT | Updated 15/07/2016 12:51 PM AEST

'Married At First Sight Australia' Is Back For Season 2

Nine Network

Even if you're not a fan of reality TV, chances are you've heard of 'Married At First Sight' -- the controversial dating show which sees strangers tie the knot only moments after first clapping eyes on each other.

Hand-picked by behind-the-scenes experts who claim science and psychology can lead to the perfect match, each of the four couples have 30 days in which to decide whether or not to pursue the relationship.

While the 'marriages' are actually commitment ceremonies and aren't legally binding, the premise of the show did not fail to ignite plenty of public debate when the first season aired last year.

Perhaps unsurprisingly, it also delivered handsomely in the ratings, and the Nine Network backed a second season almost immediately after the first went to air.

Now, that new season is about to launch into Australian living rooms, with eight new contestants, four new marriages and, if the trailer is anything to go by, lots more drama.


So, what is the deal with our fascination with this show, and can the "matchmaking-by-science" premise actually work?

The Huffington Post Australia spoke to psychologist and dating expert Melanie Schilling who has recently joined the show's team of matchmakers, to find out.

Can you tell us a bit about what goes on behind the scenes?

"The first part of it is the scientific match making, which takes place before the cameras even start rolling," Schilling said. "It requires a lot of work of assessing individuals and their likely compatibility with other individuals.

"We were presented with -- oh my gosh, I’m just imagining -- pages and pages of [contestant] profiles. I had them all spread out on my office floor. There must have been 50 faces I was looking at and writing notes all over and watching their audition videos.

"The three of us [Schilling joins the series one relationship experts John Aiken and Trisha Stratford] each have a different perspective, I can only speak from my point of view, by my approach is the values-based approach, in where I assess the individual’s core values and also look at their family of origin.

"I'm not looking at superficial preferences like 'I want to marry someone taller than me,' but rather the meaningful stuff that defines who people are in life."

Was it harder or easier than you expected?

"It was hard, actually. I do find it tough because people are not robots. It would be so much easier if they were. It’s an inexact science. It can only go so far.

"While I can have strong predictions about compatibility, when it comes to chemistry and that physical spark between two people, that’s in the hands of the gods."

Do you actually think this premise can work?

"Yes, I do. If we think of it as an arranged married -- which is essentially what it is -- then, historically and internationally we can see there is a really high success rate.

"With the added benefit of being backed up by science, then yes, I think the principle is sound."

Melanie Schilling (centre) with relationship experts John Aiken and Trisha Stratford.

In terms of the pairing, how much of the focus is on compatibility, and how much is on making good TV?

"Making good TV is always going to be a part of it. But not for us [on the panel]. We make the recommendations then Channel 9 comes to the table with their good TV hat on, and that's another part of the jigsaw."

In your opinion, are all of the season 2 contestants genuinely looking for love?

"Not necessarily. I think as you watch it will unfold. I don’t want to give too much away. There are some really exciting story lines.

"In the first instance, we believed everyone was genuinely looking for love. But then I think people get put under this level of pressure and are pushed to the limit and are way outside their comfort zone, and it forces them to take a long hard look at themselves and if they have taken on something perhaps when they weren't ready."

"There are a number of different motivations people come on this show. I would say the vast majority are people who have tried everything -- online dating, offline dating, long distance relationships -- and just have not found the right person for them.

"So they decided they wanted to take the control out of their own hands."

Do you have particularly high hopes for any of the couples in season 2?

"I do. Particularly two of the couples I’d say.

"But there are always surprises. There was one couple that all of our profiling told us were very, very similar and likely to be highly compatible. Let’s just say we might have done our job too well, and they might have been too similar."

'Married at First Sight' season two will premiere on Channel 9 on Monday, 4th April, 2016.