‘Married at First Sight’ Expert Dr. Viviana Coles on Season 12’s Couples & Going Virtual

Married at First Sight Viviana Coles

Lifetime’s hit franchise Married at First Sight is ushering in a whole new set of newly-matched singles in Season 12, beginning Wednesday, January 13.

Kicking off in Atlanta, five couples will take the experimental plunge into marriage with a stranger, and expert Dr. Viviana Coles is giving us an exclusive preview of what viewers can anticipate. Along with taking place over the course of a pandemic, Season 12 will make way for new challenges and fresh drama.

Below, Coles, who is a leading sex therapist and one of three matchmaking experts, offers fans some insight.

This is the first season to ever kick off during an ongoing pandemic. What was the process like in finding the singles who were going to be matched? Was there a lower turnout considering the circumstances?

Dr. Viviana Coles: I don’t know if the numbers were all that different, but I can tell you that they were very, very serious. One of the first questions they would ask about would be what our COVID protocols were. I was honestly impressed by that because you would think that some people who are trying to go through this process would be like, “Let’s go. I don’t care what’s going on,” but everybody was very mindful. I’m glad that they were conscious of it and cautious of it because we needed to protect each other first and foremost.

Apart from COVID, what other changes can fans anticipate in Season 12?

There’s definitely a lot more involvement … More than ever we were just very mindful that we don’t want anyone to feel like just because it’s virtual, it’s not good. So whenever possible we would fly out to them or do a phone call. We did a lot of things that weren’t even captured on camera, just because we were very mindful that going through this virtual experience can feel really lonely. So I think we kind of went overboard at times making sure that they realized that we were there for them, whether they were struggling or not, and so that’s different.

Dr. Viviana Coles Married at First Sight

(Credit: Courtesy of Kinetic Content)

Speaking of going virtual, what challenges do you face as a professional when helping others that way?

My whole private practice right now is virtual as far as me seeing clients. So I’ve gotten very used to talking to people virtually. I think that with New Orleans having to go virtual for some of the end of [Season 11], and a lot of that just didn’t make it to episodes. It wasn’t as important as some of the other things they were going through. Nowadays it’s a lot more welcome, and I think viewers don’t mind it as much either.

While I know you can’t say too much about the season, where do the couples of Season 12 rank between Season 10 and Season 11’s couples?

You’re not going to get that out of me [Laughs]. But I will tell you that the way that it kind of plays out, I have to remind people though that when Season 11 came out, there were so many naysayers about certain people. Everyone was like, “There is no way. That person’s a this, she’s a this, he’s a that.” And then over the course of the season, I mean, the flip-flopping was just crazy and I was loving it. I can almost guarantee that that’s probably going to happen this season as well.

Is there anything about the show that fans should know regarding the process?

This is what gets to me the most each and every season. Yes, we are the ones making the matches. And when our viewers finally see the couples and they see them get married and interact, we have not seen that either. What I mean is they get to see the couples interact together and make their judgements based off of that. We made those matches on paper. The most we’ve seen of them side-by-side is individual pictures. So the idea that it’s so clear to the viewer on episode one, two, three, that this couple is hitting it off or this couple is not hitting it off, it’s because they’re seeing them together. We had to make that judgment long before they even knew that they existed.

What are some of the challenges this season’s couples will face?

Letting old habits come into their new marriages. And that can be old ways of communicating, old ways of miscommunicating, old people, old drama, and trauma. There’s so many things that I think some of our individuals really were dragging in to this new marriage. It’s the baggage thing. We’ve all talked about how we’ve got baggage. But I think in this scenario, it’s doubly unfair to bring in the baggage because your partner has no idea at all what they’re in for. And so that obviously posed challenges for us as the experts to help them, but certainly we were up for the challenge.

Married at First Sight, Season 12 Premiere, Wednesday, January 13, 8/7c, Lifetime