On Sunday night, MAFS viewers were left shocked at what appeared to be a sudden ‘flip’ in Olivia Frazer’s personality. Up until then, Olivia and partner Jackson Lonie were the season’s sweethearts. It looked like nothing could stifle their relationship… they seemed perfect.
But this week, it looks like Olivia has turned off her ‘innocent’ persona and shown us a much darker side. It’s a shift that has unsettled many MAFS watchers, including myself. After Monday night’s glass-shattering episode, I turned the TV off and felt really uncomfortable. I’m an avid reality TV watcher, so I’m used to the drama. But something about seeing Olivia’s behaviour unfold has been quite disturbing.
For some context, on Sunday night Domenica Calarco voiced her opinion about the way fellow contestant Carolina Santos had been treating her ‘husband’ Dion Giannarelli. It was honestly a fair call, because Carolina’s behaviour toward Dion was way out of line and nasty.
Then out of nowhere Olivia interjects and says: “You’ve just got to hate somebody.”
Dom is shocked because all she’s doing is standing up for the downtrodden.
Throughout the week, we’ve only seen more antagonistic behaviour from Olivia against Dom. On Monday, she had a go at Dom for her “annoying” and “loud” voice – resulting in Dom smashing a glass.
“It was astonishing to see how different [Olivia’s face] was. Like, her pupils had dilated, her eyes were black and I was more just like, wow,” MAFS‘ Ella Ding said of the glass-breaking incident.
“It was very uncomfortable to witness and I was in pure shock. The fact that she was popping off didn’t come as a surprise, but just the facial expressions, the attitude, the spitefulness and the switch of character was truly amazing. I mean, she’s got two different characters in her.”
Then last night, Olivia unleashed her true form at the dinner party. She really is a wolf in sheep’s clothing.
— ERM (@emeder14) March 9, 2022
— Camstagrams (@camstagramz) March 9, 2022
I think the reason we are so disturbed by Olivia’s behaviour over some of the other toxic contestants, is because there’s something deeply uncomfortable about someone being able to change their personality with ease.
I spoke to eHarmony psychologist Sharon Draper about Olivia’s behaviour and she explained that it’s not actually the flip in personality that’s disturbing, it’s the way the change in personality is being used to manipulate others.
“When we watch reality TV shows, we get a glimpse into people’s lives in a way that we wouldn’t usually in the real world. We get to see how people adapt themselves to different situations or “shift” between different personalities. This is completely normal in many situations – you might change how you act when you’re at work with your boss compared to how you behave on a Friday night with your friends. We all do!” Draper said.
“But these shifts in how we behave can become problematic when they become a mechanism to manipulate or undermine the people around us. We are often affronted by these extremes when we see them on TV or in movies. We all know the classic Regina George skirt compliment that turns out to be an insult!”
Speaking to Sharon reminded me of a toxic friendship that I recently left. This person pretended to be a friend, but would constantly try to cut me down through snide and backhanded comments. I was really confused, because this behaviour seemed to undermine the person she made herself out to be. The friendship left me feeling worn down and exhausted because I had to constantly worry about whether she’d choose to be nice to me that day, or mean.
It’s that feeling of confusion that makes this kind of dual behaviour so tricky to navigate. We think to ourselves: “How can someone who used to be so nice suddenly be so unkind?”
“In our everyday lives we are presented with the sides of people that they want us to see rather than the full picture. To see people not only make this shift, but also use it negatively, is unsettling,” Draper said.
— JQ (@Quisticles) March 9, 2022
We don’t just see this behaviour with fake friends or coworkers either, we can observe it in criminals like Ted Bundy – who presented as charming to his victims, when in reality he was a depraved serial killer.
This type of behaviour can also be observed in a racial context. In 2018, author Ruby Hamad wrote a powerful essay for The Guardian about “white tears” and how they often silence women of colour (she also wrote a book about the same topic called White Tears/Brown Scars). In the essay, Hamad explains that it’s a tactic used by white women to “muster sympathy and avoid accountability, by turning the tables and accusing their accuser.”
You can’t help but draw parallels between these “white tears” and Olivia. While Domenica isn’t a person a colour, she is Italian/Australian and has been unfairly targeted for her “loud voice” – a characteristic often associated with women of diverse cultural backgrounds.
Olivia tried to act innocent and turn Domenica into the aggressor. But anyone watching the show will know that it was Olivia who pushed Domenica to breaking point. Of course, that doesn’t excuse the glass-breaking, but it does explain why Dom reacted the way she did.
While it’s horrible to watch the Olivia Frazer/Domenica Calarco drama play out on TV, it’s created an important conversation around manipulation and the different forms it can take.
Sometimes it’s the person we least expect who can be the most hurtful. It’s a hard pill to swallow, but it’s a reality check some of us need.