Screen Rant had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Viviana Coles and Pastor Calvin Roberson and get the inside scoop on their new show, Unmatchables. The relationship experts have helped many couples find true love on Married at First Sight. Now they’re taking on the “hopeless” cases, with the applicants who the experts thought weren’t ready for a long-term relationship. In this show, the experts work with people who have quirks like fear of intimacy, shallowness, and believing in conspiracy theories. These traits are not minor, either, but are to the point that the Unmatchables can’t seem to form any kind of healthy, long-term relationships.
Chatting with Dr. Coles and Pastor Cal, they had a lot to say about this new spin-off, as well as some insights into Married at First Sight. It also turns out they might feel a little competitive with other reality dating shows.
Rather than focusing on what’s wrong with an unmatchable person, how do you focus on how to help them fix their issues?
Dr. Coles: Well, we do let them know what we see. That’s one of the draws of being Married at First Sight is that you are going to get to work with experts in the field. We don’t mince words, and with this situation in particular, we don’t have time to mince words. There’s no beating around the bush because we have one week with these singles to really get them to a place where by the end of their week with us, they go on a blind date and showcase for themselves and possibly for the other person on the date what they’ve learned about themselves and maybe some small improvements that come from the process.
What do you think fans of Married at First Sight are most going to love about this spin-off?
Pastor Cal: I think what they’re going to love most about it is that there may be some faces that they’ve seen who didn’t get picked. Also, I think they’re going to like seeing the transformation of these individuals. They’re lovely people, they’re attractive, they’re smart, they’re successful. They just have some quirks. Some [viewers] are going to see themselves in a lot these people. That’s going to be a lot of fun and to see how we can act as mirrors to sort of reveal some of those different ways of dating.
Dr. Coles:I think they’ll also love seeing us in a different place. I keep saying, ‘Hashtag this ain’t MAFS!’ When we go into Married at First Sight, we’re dealing with really high-stakes marriage commitment, possible families. It’s really heavy. We take it very seriously. This is way before all that. Before you can even think about marriage, let’s see what you’re like when you want to go on a date. So we get to have a lot more fun! We get to be very bold and radical in the way we work with them, which is a dream come true to me! There’s so many times when I’ve wanted to do fun things with clients to get a message across. This has given us the opportunity to really shake things up in a way that I don’t think anyone has ever seen before.
How has COVID affected the filming of Unmatchables?
Dr. Coles: Fortunately we did have all the experience of learning how to be COVID compliant and stay as safe as possible with Married at First Sight, and this is coming on the heels of that season. We’re working with people from Atlanta who weren’t picked. So we have a lot of experience with that. We’ve been COVID tested more times than I can count. I don’t know that it’s really affected Unmatchables. I think we’ve got a good system down.
For people who have quirks like these Unatchables, how soon would you suggest they bring up their quirks in a relationship?
Pastor Cal: It’s funny because we’re having to deal with that with some of the individuals because their quirks are so prominent, sometimes they lead with that. But if you want a relationship, you have to start with the relationship and not with the weird. Get to know the person, ask them some questions just to get to know them. You don’t want to run someone off before they even can find out who the real person behind the strange behavior. So first date, absolutely not! Don’t talk about your foot fetishes, don’t talk about eating on the toilet, don’t talk about any of the weird stuff that would run someone off.
What are some of the character traits of these Unmatchables that most stood out to you?
Dr. Coles: I think a lot of these people, we all probably know someone like this. We’re like, ‘Oh my gosh, they’re such an amazing friend or relative,’ but we don’t know what they’re like on dates. You’re finally getting to see ‘No wonder that person’s still single!’ It’s not because they’re a jerk or anything, they’re kind of off a little bit and just need some guidance to get back on. That’s what you’re going to see here. Some of them are personality things, and we can only do so much in a week, but we’re going to try, though. We’re going to work really hard.
Pastor Cal: I think it’s sort of like a sneak peek behind the scenes of a person’s life, seeing their backstory. Because even though the quirks may be prominent, there’s a reason for them. What we’re trying to do is we’re trying to find out why is it that you’re this way? What caused you to do this? We have one gentleman who ghosts women. He’s a serial ghoster. I mean, he leaves them at the table with the check and everything, and he’s gone.
Dr. Coles: We have a woman who hasn’t kissed anyone in years and years and years.
Pastor Cal: And I mentioned the toilet eater, eating while on the toilet. But there are reasons that people do these strange things, and if you’re not in a relationship or haven’t had a long-lasting relationship, to you it’s normal. We’re here to let them know that it ain’t normal!
What advice would you give to men for a first date?
Pastor Cal: Be as kind as you possibly can. Become old-school. I believe in this! I know with the new Z generation, with millennials, it’s a whole different ballgame, but I believe in old-school charm, old-school gentlemanliness.
Dr. Coles: Chivalry is not dead!
Pastor Cal: It’s not dead! And I believe that for a gentleman, he has to understand that some of the things that a woman looks for — no matter how independent they are, no matter how self-possessed they are, and how confident they are — they still want a man to be kind, to be gentle, to be courteous, and to not require things on a first date. Don’t require anything! The only thing I require is that we talk and you allow me to see how wonderful you really are.
What advice would you give to women for a first date?
Dr. Coles: I think for women it’s very important that they also don’t have the expectation that their partner is going to pay. Not saying that they won’t or not to allow it or anything, but that they don’t have the expectation to put all of the onus on going in for a possible first kiss, going in for the hug goodnight, paying for the tab, all of those things. Those expectations create a lot of pressure and when you’re just getting to know someone, that can be read a way or two. We have someone on the show who expects to never pay for anything ever really. If it’s something that she wants, not that she needs, she pretty much just expects her partner to pay for it. That’s not the world we live in and it’s very difficult for her date if that’s her mentality. It goes in keeping with the chivalry isn’t dead, but also you have to be willing to be a partner when you’re dating and in relationships.
How do you think social media has affected dating? Has it had positives and negative effects?
Pastor Cal: It’s definitely been negatives. Here’s something that we’ve found that’s pretty consistent in Married at First Sight and Unmatchables: people are tired of online dating. I hear this quite often, they’re tired of swiping left, swiping right. I think what it does is that it kind of makes people disposable. It sort of gives you a superficial glance of a person. Back in the old days, my old days, you actually had to walk up to someone, meet them, and actually present your best self and talk to them and get to know them. There was a back and forth, you had to giggle a little bit, and then sort of develop a relationship, as opposed to ‘Eh, I like her. Eh, I don’t like that spot on her chin. Oh no, I don’t like that either.’ That’s ridiculous. That’s not dating! That’s shopping.
Dr. Coles: With social media, there’s always been an impression that there’s so much perfectionism, that everything is a fantasy, that there’s someone else right around the corner. I find that a lot of people really want to be married, but don’t want to settle with anyone. I feel like there has to be a sense of settling down. And that’s actually one of the makeovers we do, is talk about ‘settling down and settling in.’ It’s important to remember that you can keep going and shopping and shopping and shopping, but if you’re really looking for marriage, in our culture it’s with one person and you gotta pick them.
The Unmatchables are described as ‘diamonds in the rough.’ Do you think there’s a lot of ‘diamonds in the rough’ out there?
Pastor Cal: I think we’re all diamonds in the rough. I don’t think anyone comes to the table as a 10 carat polished, perfect diamond. We all have little…what do you call those things?
Dr. Coles: Inclusions. I know my diamonds!
Pastor Cal: We all have inclusions. We’re all a little yellow. None of us are perfect. I just think that some of us are able to present better than others.
Dr. Coles: We know our best angle.
Pastor Cal: We show you the best side. So I think that we all do have a lot of challenges that we have to overcome. These people for instance, theirs are just a little more prominent. You see them right off. And we can’t take away their challenges because we only have a week. One week! With two makeovers and a blind date at the end of the week. We can’t change what would take years and hundreds of thousands of dollars in therapy.
Dr. Coles: We do want to give them that confidence and say all it takes is a little bit of a tweak here and there and before you know it, you’ll be twerking with the right person.
Pastor Cal: Did you say twerking the right person?
Dr. Coles: Twerking with the right person!
What would you say to someone watching the show who feels that they are unmatchable?
Pastor Cal: Tale notes!
Dr. Coles: Take lots of notes! Every episode is self-encapsulated, so they can learn a little something from everybody and the next week they’ll get something else. We all have to work on some of these things, and in our very visual world, we don’t get a lot of first chances at first impressions. So we’re really trying to set them up so that that first impression is so much better than before we met them. Sometimes I think [Pastor Cal and I] can give each other a high five and other times we just go “Ugh!”
Why do you think Married at First Sight has a higher relationship success rate than The Bachelor?
Pastor Cal: I’m not surprised by that at all. I think, in our humble but correct opinion, this is probably the most successful matching show on TV without question. The proof is in the pudding. We have twelve successful couples. We have eight babies, as of this [date]. There may be more being made as we speak! I think that those are incredibly impressive statistics. The fact that we are able to create families, this is a rare thing to be able to do! It’s very rewarding! I think we are so much more successful than that other show you mentioned.
Dr. Cole: On top of having the three of us kind of at the helm, it’s so great to be able to have a production company that also is all about love.
Pastor Cal: And network!
Dr. Coles: And the network, too! We’re all on the same team when it comes to really trying to help these couples – and now, with Unmatchables, help these singles – get to the root of what can make them last forever and have that love forever. We’re all here for love, there’s a lot of support.
Pastor Cal: You want love to last a lifetime. Get it? You see the correlation there [to Lifetime Network]?
Addressing the elephant in the room: Chris Williams from the latest season of MAFS. What did you see in him that made you think he had potential?
Pastor Cal: He’s motivated, he’s successful, he’s smart, we felt that he was principled, his spirituality. All these were things that attracted us to him. In interviewing people we get a myriad of responses in our interviews. There are a lot of people that we don’t accept, hence Unmatchables.
Dr. Coles: We’re always looking for people to match as individuals.
Pastor Cal: And we thought that not only him, but we thought that all of our individuals, that they were ready for marriage. Unfortunately sometimes when those cameras come on and the pressure comes on, you become a different person.
Dr. Coles: And they struggle. But you know what I love about it is that we have eight weeks – of the documented piece, hopefully they’ll be married forever! – but during those eight weeks, we’ve seen, not just in this season, but in every season, that people have their ups and downs with each other, with themselves, with production. The whole thing, it’s a big deal!
Pastor Cal: It’s marriage. It’s real marriage!
Dr. Coles: It’s back and forth and we never know what’s really going to happen on decision day, and this season is no different.
Pastor Cal: It’s real marriage, and if you were to put a camera in any married person’s house, on or off TV, you would see all kinds of drama!
Dr. Coles: TV worthy stuff!
Pastor Cal: And if people were watching, they’d say, ‘No! This couple should not be together!’ because marriage is like that.
When there are those failed relationships on MAFS, how does it change your approach in the future?
Dr. Coles: I think with every couple that we’ve ever matched up, we’ve always learned something about what to look for, whether it’s because we want it again, or what to look for because that didn’t work out so much. That being said, we’re not going to be jaded and say, ‘Welp, we can’t ever pick somebody who’s X because that doesn’t work out!’ because guess what? We might find somebody else who works perfectly with X. It’s not an easy task that we have. It’s always changing, always growing. I can’t say there are any hard and fast rules about what we’d do different in the future, except maybe ask even more questions. That’s all I can do.
Pastor Cal: Years ago I was doing some studying for a project and I learned that when the FBI are trying to tell what a genuine dollar looks like, a real dollar, they don’t study the fakes. They study the dollar. It’s like when you go into a store, you know [the fake] if all the other dollars don’t match up to this one. In other words, you look at the one that works. What I’m doing here, what I’m learning from, is the couples that work. What are we learning from them? We can learn great things from the Jephte and Shawniece, the Beth and Jamie, the Deonna and Greg. What did we do right here and let’s duplicate that. We’re not going to look at the ‘fakes.’ Not that any of them are fake, but we’re not looking at the fake dollars. We’re looking at the real ones.
Do you stay in touch with any of the past couples?
Pastor Cal:Oh, gosh, yes! All the time! They call, even when they have challenges. Even though we give them counseling after the show, sometimes they’ll have a special challenge and they’ll reach out to us, and we’re more than happy to talk and discuss.
Dr. Coles: And production is so great because they offer them – outside of us because we’re not their therapists – they offer them therapy during the show if they need it, after the show for sure. And what I’m always so impressed with is that there’s so many of the couples and individuals who take advantage of that option, because it’s not easy. Being married is not easy.
Pastor Cal: And it’s free!
Dr. Coles: Exactly!
Pastor Cal: I believe every episode is like free therapy, you know?
Dr. Coles: Absolutely! There’s some good stuff in there.
You’re both married. How did you meet your spouses?
Dr. Coles: I have a pretty interesting story with my husband of almost fourteen years. We actually first dated when we were in middle school. We were each other’s first kiss. We did not stay together our entire upbringing. But about 10 years later we re-met and eloped 6 months later. Now we’re together almost 14 years and have 2 kiddos. So puppy love isn’t always puppy love!
Pastor Cal: Mine wasn’t puppy. I was almost a full-grown dog, and my beautiful wife had to take me. We’ve been married for 13 years and it’s incredible. A mutual friend saw me creeping. I was ogling her. I was just looking at her and a mutual friend grabbed me by the arm, took me and stood me right in front of her and said, ‘You two need to meet!’ And that’s how it started. She rejected me early and I was persistent and she saw my charm. And the rest is history!
Dr. Coles: Good for you!
Pastor Cal: I say that very humbly because she had mercy on me. I think I married up. Waaaay up!
What attracted you to do a reality show in the first place?
Pastor Cal: [My wife and I] were actually contacted by a casting agent to help them find a couple for another show. And we did that and they accepted the couple. And that couple kept talking about us and the counseling that we gave them, and so they wanted to talk to us. After they talked to us, they wanted to use us and the rest is history.
Dr. Coles: For me it was a little bit different. I was in and out of other production companies for shows that never actually were off the ground. And I looked up and said, ‘You know, maybe there’s something to this.’ Maybe if I actually looked for something it would be there. I found that if I looked at all the quality relationship shows, they were with Kinetic Content, and so I reached directly to them. And it wasn’t until two years later when somebody left that there was an opening. I was their ‘top pick’ is what they said, and I choose to believe that! And now I’m here and I get to work with Pastor Cal!
Who is your favorite fictional couple?
Pastor Cal: Fred and Wilma! The Flintstones, I mean, come on! Fred’s a hard working guy, he goes out every day and handles his business. And Wilma she puts up with his foolishness, and he’s always getting into trouble and she’s bailing him out. And they respect each other. He loves her and he worships her. I think he’s a great guy and I love Fred and Wilma Flintstone. And they have beautiful children.
Dr. Coles: I’m going to go with Jonathan Trager and Sara Thomas from Serendipity, because I love that when they first met, there was a draw, but then the world said, ‘nope!’ and then they kept going and then they found each other. It’s one of my favorite movies ever!
Pastor Cal: You see what this tells you about our personalities? I chose Fred and Wilma Flinstone. She’s talking about serendipity. I said the Flinstones! Why did I think of something like that?
Anything else you want to add to our conversation?
Dr. Coles: Catch Unmatchables right after Married at First Sight. Settle in for some fun and some heart!
Next: Married At First Sight: Couples That Got Divorced After The Show
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