reality tv

'I watch reality TV for my job. These are the types of shows I can't stomach.'

A few years back, I sat in front of my television and watched as a fruit bowl was tossed across a room in the name of entertainment.

It was the last time I properly watched an episode of Married At First Sight.

There was something about that moment that broke the spell for me.

Watch: Bachelor contestants, translated. Post continues below video.


Video via Mamamia.

Watching reality TV, or at least keeping across what's happening, is part of my job, so I can't avoid the drama of shows like MAFS completely. 

But since then, as I deciphered whatever Bryce did on MAFS or dissected why two Bachelor contestants were feuding, I became increasingly thankful for the rise of more 'wholesome' shows that didn't leave me feeling angry or frustrated.

Some shows dial up the drama. We know so-and-so will make a terrible fake bride for whatshisname, but production and casting do it anyway because that's the point of the show.

Some plan to be dramatic, and in doing so put contestants in humiliating situations or set them up for failure.

These shows are entertaining for the same reason traffic always builds up near a car crash: you can't look away, even if you don't like what you're seeing.

Image: Nine.

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Then there are those who do the opposite.

MasterChef has been around for years, but it's really found a new, heartfelt stride since welcoming new judges in 2020. Unlike its former competitor My Kitchen Rules, MasterChef focuses on the food rather than the drama between contestants (and look what one has survived).

Lego Masters is peak wholesome and it's also a ratings hit.

In 2020 we watched SAS Australia, which definitely cannot be labelled 'wholesome', but still focused on the transformations of the celebrity recruits above the relationships or fights between them. 

The Masked Singer is relentlessly positive, with the panel acting more like a hype squad than judges. 

Okay, maybe The Masked Singer is a different kind of car crash. Image: Network 10.

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Most recently, Nine revived Beauty and the Geek. It was a bold move, given the original show's penchant for laughing at the 'beauties' and 'geeks' in bad faith. 

In its new iteration, the show has been nothing but lovely. It does poke fun, but it is no longer about punching down.

These shows don't plan to be dramatic, and yet they're still entertaining.

If drama arises naturally, because sometimes humans are dramatic and these are pressure-cooker situations, it can be hashed out and dealt with without descending into chaos and changing the tone of the entire series.

These shows are proof that television is catching up with what people truly enjoy, even if we're momentarily distracted by a fruit bowl or a car crash: empathy.

Image: Nine.

Over the years, I have interviewed many reality TV stars from all types of shows. Most, if not all, have received horrible messages and trolling on social media.

The negativity and the drama on-screen seeped into the viewership and the fanbase, who then congregated in the comments sections and DMs of those on TV. 

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There is never an acceptable time to send someone an abusive message online. Ever. But unfortunately, there are people in society who deem it fine to abuse or harass someone they didn't like on TV.

This is a really horrible part of being in the public eye, but it doesn't have to be guaranteed in the way it currently is. The truly harrowing stories reality stars have told me have all come from those who were painted as 'villains' or found themselves the centrepiece of on-screen drama.

On the contrary, stars of Survivor, MasterChef and other less 'negative' shows have spoken of how the positivity has far outweighed the bad.

There are plenty of factors here, but it's impossible to ignore that the dramatic tone of TV shows is one of them.

As we gear up for a new season of The Bachelor Australia, and filming for MAFS 2022 gets underway, I can't help wondering if producers will look at the evolving reality TV series surrounding them and try something new. 

It would be a bold move to change things up, but they might be surprised at how much we enjoy it.

Feature image: Supplied/Nine/Network 10.

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