Channel 4 is developing a habit for shows centred around marriage but unlike Married at First Sight – which concluded its third series earlier this year – The Seven Year Switch is a programme with reality at its core.
Anyone who agrees to marry a total stranger based purely on ‘science’ knows what they are getting themselves in to. But for the four couples who swapped partners in a bid to save their faltering relationships, the severity of the situation far outweighed the gimmick.
Heading into the final episode of The Seven Year Switch, we will soon see if those involved can successfully use everything they have learned on their two-week trip to Thailand, rediscovering the love they once had.
After one episode, it was easy to dismiss this as another attempt to wring entertainment from the anguish of ordinary people, yet it has become far more than that.
There is nothing contrived or fake about these couples and their struggles – even if Tony’s larger than life persona marked him out early – and ultimately incorrectly – as the villain of the piece.
All eight participants are normal people trying to reignite a lost spark, and it is refreshing to see a reality show that prioritises truth over cheap thrills.
The closest The Seven Year Switch came to manipulation was when George was shown a photograph of his wife Michelle and he understandably flipped out at the thought of her being naked with her new ‘partner’ Tom.
Spoiler alert: She wasn’t naked at all and the producers were simply lighting the touch paper in the hope that George would blow.
That was the one moment of scene manipulation in a show that does not need it, and we can only hope that all four couples find what they were looking, for now, they have returned to more familiar surroundings.
Either way, it has been enlightening to watch this group acknowledge their faults and rediscover their love, in part for entertainment but, hopefully, and more importantly, for their own brighter futures.