Forget dating shows, reality TV's new star is divorce

Australian television series Married At First Sight, where couples meet for the first time at the altar.
Australian television series Married At First Sight, where couples meet for the first time at the altar.PHOTO: LIFETIME

CANNES (AFP) - The dating show boom that has swept the world's television screens since the success of Married At First Sight may be coming to an end, experts predict.

Now it is time to get divorced.

Producers are falling over themselves to make new shows about warring couples where everything has gone wrong.

Analyst Virginia Mouseler said at the world's top TV gathering MIPTV in the French resort of Cannes on April 3 that the tsunami of classic dating shows that followed the US blockbuster had run its course.

"In the three years since Married At First Sight the tide seems to have turned," she said.

Instead a host of new shows are coming with couples making dramatic last-ditch attempts to save their relationships - or deciding to split.

The cathartic One Night With My Ex from Britain's Channel 5 locks both partners from a failed relationship in an apartment "for the most intense night of their lives".

The idea is that they either salvage something from the wreckage or get the answers they need to move on, said Mouseler, who heads The Wit, an influential trends newsletter.

The Latvian hit Mirror Of Truth puts unhappy couples through intense therapy and then asks them to choose whether they should stay together.

Couples go on a nostalgic journey to see if they can rekindle the spark in Finland's Rewind Love, while across the Baltic Sea in Denmark they take a more ruggedly radical approach. In Wild Therapy, bickering couples are dropped into the wilderness with a special forces veteran and life coach who tests them to breaking point to see where the problem in their relationship lies.

The new Dutch show A Whole New Beginning takes the idea to another level by getting families to sell-up and move to a South American jungle to begin again from scratch. Each family is given €75,000 (S$110,000) to build a new home and life, while their assets at home are frozen.

Naturally, sex is the root of much of the discord.

The upcoming Israeli show Sex Tape takes the bull by the horns in a new form of public sex therapy where couples are encouraged to film their lovemaking.

They then must share their experiences with other couples in a similar situation in group therapy sessions, where each watches and comments on the other's sex tapes.

The Dutch show On Top With Goedele takes a slightly less outrageous approach to tackling simmering frustrations under the sheets.

The host encourages couples to talk about their real sexual needs and uses facial mapping and eye tracking technology to better identify their hidden desires.

Not everyone has given up on romance though. Nor is it ever too late. Belgium's Hotel Romantiek took 40 pensioners to the Swiss Alps for a week of high jinks.

The two hosts choose a "perfect match" from among them, who then cross a mountain lake in a swan pedal boat to spend the night in a love-nest cabin.