This year’s MAFS seems to be taking its time getting juicy – I’m looking pointedly at you, yawn-couple Vanessa and Chris.
While waiting for things to heat up I’m passing the hours trying to dissect the editing techniques and tricks being used to push various narratives or portray particular characters in certain ways on the show. Because we’re all armchair pundits and producers now.
According to one reality TV source, one of those ways producers manipulate characters is via the use of something called a “Frankengrab” – where various snatches of conversation are knitted together to form what sounds like a single sentence, and can drastically change what a person meant to convey.
It’s a term that’s virtually known outside of the reality TV editing world – although in 2016 the Macquarie Dictionary included it in a list of words they’re considering creating an entry for (at the time of writing it’s still waiting in the wings).
The best way to spot them is when you see a character begin a sentence only to have the vision cut away halfway through, with their voice continuing to be heard over the top another image.
That’s a pretty strong hint that the second half of their supposedly seamless sentence could have been said at another time and place.
We all know it happens – and various reality contestants over the years have complained that “editing” distorted their true personalities – but once you know the term it takes on a life of its own and you begin to see it everywhere.
And you realise that whenever you see it clustered around a particular couple or character, there’s likely to be a big secret you’re not being told.
One couple who was hammered with Frankengrabs through their short time in the series was the now-defunct Poppy and Luke, whose “marriage” ended abruptly earlier this week. The official line, as every scene featuring Poppy reminded us, was that Poppy was too distracted by missing her two-year-old twin boys to continue with the “experiment”.
But eagle-eyed viewers would have noticed that Poppy’s pieces-to-camera would often sound clunky and take strange turns mid-sentence, as though she had something else to say that we never got to hear.
Tash and Amanda also seem to be regular victims of the Frankengrab, particularly last Sunday when they were trying to hash out their trainwreck of a non-relationship at the weekly commitment ceremony.
Having told Amanda plainly on their honeymoon that she wasn’t feeling any real “chemistry” with her chosen bride, Tash seemed to be trying to repeat this truth while being questioned by John Aiken. But the words never seemed to quite leave her mouth.
It’s only speculation, but could it be that it’s not in the show’s interest to have one half of a couple flatly admit that they don’t have the horn for their mate? After all, a lack of attraction isn’t something that John Aiken can help a couple overcome using a few John Gottman quotes and pithy remarks about mismatched fighting styles.
If your partner doesn’t do it for you from the outset, that’s that. It’s an inconvenient truth that, if repeated and emphasised, would make it very difficult to justify the couple staying in the experiment at all.
Last night’s dinner party didn’t seem to need too much Frankengrabbing.
Michael “Mickey” Goonan, a man whose name sounds like his personality, made no secret of his desire to “stir” the other couples, which he proceeded to do, particularly as he goaded Steve and Meshel and Mikey and Natasha. No editing required.
Perhaps some of Mikey’s words about his fight with Natasha seemed a bit forced – particularly when he wondered out loud: “When am I ever going to be good enough for Natasha?”
He has since confirmed to news.com.au that he didn’t like his TV bride at all, so it seems unlikely he was legitimately lamenting any possible breakdown of their relationship.
It’s not always easy to see where a Frankengrab is being used to obscure MAFS truths but one thing’s certain: there’s a lot more going on behind the scenes than we ever see on our screens.