The most popular show on Australian television is one about cats.

Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud is the end of thinking

If someone had told me when I was studying film and television a few years ago that a TV show sourced from YouTube clips of cats would be a top rating show on Australian TV, I would have thought they were talking about some new spoof or mocumentary.

Surely it must be a parody of the evils associated with the very worst aspects of entertainment TV? I mean, what better way to express the overblown panic that TV creates mindless zombies of us than with feeding us kitty opium? Satiric genius!

cat videos
A TV show sourced from YouTube clips of cats is a top rating show on Australian TV.

But, wait a minute. Where’s the knowing laughter? Where’s the shaky hand-held camera spying on June, the mad cat lady, eating Whiskas from the floor? Oh shit, this isn’t a joke…

Last night 917,000 viewers tuned in to see Channel Seven’s last-ditch effort to stay competitive in the prime time media game. And what was its Get Out of Jail Free card? You guessed it: cats.

I’m almost laughing just thinking about it.

Channel Seven says its new show, Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud, “celebrates the amazing wealth of talented, funny and at times weird animals and their owners to be found on the web”. Oh wow, that does sound pretty funny! My best friends have two pugs and I sure laugh when I see them. Still, I’ve never looked at their bulging eyes and skinny legs and thought they’re ‘primetime funny.’

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You can watch the ad for Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud below:

Video via Channel 7

Channel Seven’s cat show (can we just call it pussy porn?) was rushed through following the downgrading of the network’s flailing Restaurant Revolution from four to one night a week. As Darren Davidson explained in The Australian, Channel Seven have taken a huge financial blow in drastically changing Restaurant Revolution’s original format, because it will have to compensate advertisers for the huge sums worth of advertising space they had already bought.

Restaurant Revolution cost around $500,000 per episode to produce, which isn’t pocket change. The hefty price tag obviously reflects location shoots, and local talent and staffing costs. And, although we don’t know yet how much Channel Seven has paid for Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud – and it’s other animal iterations – it has to be pretty cheap. After all, it’s pre-fab show made by Channel 5 in Britain composed entirely of YouTube clips. Complete with British voice over.

The hilarity continues next week with Dogs Make You Laugh Out Loud!

Before I go on, yes, I watched Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud (today), so that I could comment accurately. My main problem with the show is just as I expected: I’m an old-fashioned sucker for a story – including documentaries – with some sort of plot. And, at the risk of receiving hate mail, I like thinking. Not seriously thinking all the time. But, you know, thinking.

Cats Make You Laugh Out Loud seems to me to be the logical final, exhausted step in a long race to the finish line for reality TV.

The cat videos represent a very real version of some of reality TVs more worrying affects. Instead of asking us to fight for or engage with our real lives in some way, cat videos invite us to stop thinking or trying to altogether. Struggling is futile. Just relax and watch the funny cats and their owners. That sort of pure entertainment-as-sedative – wrapped in kittens ,no less – seems kind of sinister to me.

In his analysis of TV trends, Davidson said last week that, “wall-to-wall reality programs in the 7.30pm slot this year has resulted in absolute audience figures dropping off 20 to 30 per cent.”

While this overall downward trend may still continue (fingers crossed!), last nights apparent win for cats was no win at all.

Think about it, people.

For more like this:

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