For those who haven’t had the pleasure of watching Channel Nine’s “groundbreaking” new reality show The Last Resort, there are a few things you need to know.
- Flying five couples to a remote island in Fiji, away from family, friends, kids, jobs, and general life commitments, is an entirely legitimate and long-term way to repair a broken relationship.
- Only white people’s relationships are worthy of air time.
- If you just combine a whole lot of other reality programs (e.g. Married at First Sight, Seven Year Switch, Survivor, Big Brother) you can actually come up with a completely new TV show.
Shows like The Last Resort are so watchable because they’re so ridiculous, but after watching the first two episodes of the series, I found myself noticing something that wasn’t so… comical.
It's a trend I've witnessed my whole life. When my mum's friend was pregnant, and her husband walked out. When a mother of four boys was left alone, because her partner didn't think she was giving him enough 'attention'. When a 45-year-old man left his family to be with a 25-year-old woman, who didn't have children of her own.
Within my own social bubble, I've seen that men can do the unthinkable when women are focusing on the kids.
For a majority of the couples on The Last Resort, having kids was a major turning point in their relationship. And for people like Lucy and Carl, having kids was Carl's "reason" for cheating on his wife of 13 years.
While Lucy was dedicated to looking after the couples' children, Carl had what he calls a "fling" with one of his clients. "Sounds bad but I never really felt guilty about it," he said. "I need sex everyday."
"Back in my head when it happened Lucy and I were over — we hadn’t had sex for six months."
For another couple, Lisa and Dan, their relationship started with infertility. Dan was married when he went out with a group of friends and slept with Lisa. The following week, he told her he was married. "This is where it gets even worse," he said while recalling the beginning of his relationship. "So my ex was pregnant... she was about six months pregnant."
While Dan's wife was growing their child, he was sleeping with another woman.
When Carl's wife had just pushed a child out of her vagina, and was concentrating on keeping them alive, he had an affair.
Listen: Laura Brodnik and Tiffany Dunk point out a few huge issues with The Last Resort on the latest episode of The Binge. Post continues below.
Of course, it's not all men who abandon their partners when children enter the picture. Some men are dedicated and committed fathers, and not all mothers are completely absorbed with their children. There are shades of grey and the disintegration of a relationship is never without its complexities.
But I've been haunted by stories of relationships not surviving parenthood for as long as I can remember, and now that it's playing out on prime time television, I can't ignore it.
What's fascinating about The Last Resort is that those men who struggled to reconcile a family and a relationship are given the chance to explain it. And those justifications are chilling.
Carl believes he had a "fling" - despite that not at all being a word you use to describe sleeping with another woman when you're already married - because his wife didn't want to have sex with him. After childbirth, women vary in how long it takes for them to feel comfortable having sex again. Surely the least you can do for a person who has delivered your baby, is to be patient?
Dan is quiet about his affair. He smiles cheekily when he recalls that his wife was heavily pregnant when he cheated - he anticipates a negative reaction from the people he's speaking to, but he's moved on. I can't help but think about the woman he left, who
When the 'experts' are presented with these scenarios, they talk about "dealing" with the issues at hand and "getting to the bottom of" what's going on for these couples. They're unlikely to, at any point, reprimand individuals for their appalling behaviour.
But surely we're able to agree that leaving a woman who is focused on giving birth to or raising your children is the height of selfishness. It epitomises the problem with how we perceive responsibility for children - that is, that men have very little. That caring for a baby is a woman's job, and if she's too busy with it, you have grounds to walk away.
I've been with my boyfriend for almost nine years, and would love to have a family one day, as would he. The Last Resort has me paranoid that men walking away from young children and a partner who loves them is normal - understandable, even.
But I hope that knowing a persons values inside and out, and having a partner who is equally invested in starting a family, is enough to make it through the inevitably tough transition to being parents.
Because I can't imagine how hard it would be to have your partner cheat or leave when you're focused on your children, and hoping that's what they're focused on, too.