For a single moment in time, perhaps a month or two, these women are the most famous faces in the country. Their name is brandished in headlines, their face on every newsfeed. Their actions and their mannerisms and their mistakes are picked up, analysed and thrown back in their faces with the force of a nation sprouting their hate.
They may be unlikeable, they may even be mean sometimes, but like a modern-day stampede, we force their head onto a pike and march through the streets, our indignation and our anger loud and public. Their actions don’t affect our lives, but they certainly elicit emotions.
They are our reality TV villains, and their reputations are our entertainment.
This year, it’s Davina and Dean of Married at First Sight. The year before that, it was Jen and Leah from The Bachelor. There was Chloe and Kelly from My Kitchen Rules and David from the Bachelorette and Jono from Married and First Sight and the list goes on and on and on because no season of reality TV can exist without the casting of at least one.
In 2016, it was Keira Maguire.
She knows, more than most, how absurd reality TV can make a contestant’s own reality.
“I had no idea that I was going to be a villain, none at all. But at the same time, I’m not someone who holds back on what they say. I didn’t really care what people thought and I am quite honest,” she tells Mamamia, reflecting on an experience that made her as equally famous as it did despised.
Mia Freedman interviewed Keira Maguire right after her time on The Bachelor. This is what she had to say. Post continues after audio.
“I’ve now realised honest people do get cast as villains because they’re the only ones who are honest with how they feel. A lot of people find that confronting, hearing people say things they would only think.
“The ones you wouldn’t expect to be the real villains probably are, because they have a persona up.”
Keira says when she sat down to watch the very first episode, she was “mortified”.
“When I watched it back, I was mortified. For example, in my introductory video, I was joking in a lot of that, but it was made to be so serious.
“I think I’m a comedian and they can easily grab those [jokes] and make that seem like what I genuinely said, or make it seem like I do think that way. But I would never say that in that context.”
When the first words out of your mouth are the fact you think you’re the “total package” – earnest or sarcastic – you suddenly become a producer’s playdough: to be moulded and shaped however they please. After all, you signed the dotted line.
“It’s not something you can describe in words, it’s quite overwhelming. You’re living your day-to-day life and no one knows who you are and then all of a sudden, one day people are going out of the way to force their opinions on you. You can start to isolate yourself because you don’t want to leave the house. You completely isolate yourself, if you’re not a strong person, it’s actually quite dangerous.”