MAFS star lashes Nine: ‘Vultures used me’
Hit reality TV show Married At First Sight has been rocked by explosive claims from a contestant that staff manipulated her into saying things on camera by threatening her that if she did not do so "Australia will f***ing hate me".
Outgoing contestant Poppy Jennings has vowed not to be "some whingeing little weak person that is going to be silenced" over the way she was treated during production of the hit show.
In contrast to her portrayal as a hysterical mother quitting because she missed her kids, Jennings claims she was not allowed to say what was really happening behind the scenes, including the truth about her relationship with television husband Luke Eglin.
Jennings took to Facebook to lament her portrayal and subsequent backlash on the heavily-edited reality show from production company Endemol Shine Australia that has been a ratings juggernaut for Channel 9.
On Monday night's episode, Jennings appeared emotional as she made the decision to leave while her husband was shown in tears, and in a more favourable light as a jilted partner.
Jennings said the truth of the situation was not conveyed in the episode.
"Why is Luke crying when I left???" Jennings wrote in a Facebook post that has since been removed. "What really happened that he was crying over! You don't know because I wasn't allowed to say!! It's too controversial!"
Jennings, 38, a photographer from Wollongong, gave little explanation on camera behind her decision other than that she missed her kids.
The storyline painted the mother of two-year-old twin boys as the initiator of the split from Eglin, 39, a fly-in-fly-out maintenance supervisor from Melbourne. Contestants on the show were based at Sydney's Skye Suites for filming at the end of 2019, with the show launching on Channel 9 earlier this month.
"I understand people are reacting to what they see on tv but they see 1% of what actually goes on in the show," Jennings said in the post that attracted more than 10000 comments before it was deleted. "A commitment ceremony for example goes for 15 hours, you see one hour. Our honeymoon was 4 days, they showed 6 minutes!"
Married At First Sight is in its seventh season, pairing 20 singles from across the country in what they label a reality TV ''social experiment''.
The couples marry in a fake ceremony, go on a honeymoon and live as husband and wife after being paired by relationship experts John Aiken, Mel Schilling and Trisha Stratford with the aim of seeing whether or not true love blossoms.
Just a handful of couples from previous seasons have stayed together with most crumbling under the pressure.
Channel 9 refused to comment when contacted about Jennings' Facebook allegations. The network has, however, pointed out to its detractors that contestants are offered support during the show from individual producers trained in mental health first aid, as well as a show psychologist and ongoing psychological support after filming.
Staff are particularly sensitive in the wake of former Love Island UK host Caroline Flack's death from suicide in the UK at the weekend.
"It's not what you see, it's what you don't see! Jennings wrote in the post.
"Go and ask Luke why I was so uncomfortable??????????????? Why the f … did I really leave??"
Jennings claimed she could not say what had happened behind the scenes "as it was too controversial". She admitted she would "probably hate me too" if she really was the person she was portrayed to be in the show.
"I'm not some whingeing little weak person that is going to be silenced," she said.
"I'm standing up for the f … ing truth."
Jennings also claimed ''professional experts'' who advise contestants on the show never met Eglin before shooting.
"He was fake on camera and a complete d*** head behind the scenes! It was infuriating!!!
"I was there, I was uncomfortable with all the things about this person I was matched with that didn't add up! But I was told 'poppy, on camera and off camera don't exist to the public'. I was so scared, I was saying shit like 'this could work' because they told me Australia was going to f … ing hate me."
When contacted on Tuesday, Eglin said Jennings "has blown up and just needs her own space".
"I don't know where you are getting all of this from," he continued. "I am not going to make any comments because honestly, the best way to react is not to react.
"To be honest, Poppy is a good person and the best of luck to her and that is about it. "I am not going to comment on anything because it is not worth it, it really isn't. It is just not worth it. Honestly, she just needs to move on like I have and that is it. We are finished on the show and that is as far as it goes to be honest dude."