This year, we’ve seen a marked shift in the reality TV we’re watching.
While home cooking juggernaut My Kitchen Rules has had a stranglehold on the Australian public since, well, what feels like forever – this year it’s sliding at an alarming rate, to a rival program about fake marriages.
Channel Nine’s Married At First Sight‘s metro audience has climbed a massive 16.6 per cent in 2017, while Seven’s MKR has shed more than 20. So… why?
The explanation is both simple and slightly mind boggling.
A show with faux weddings feels more authentic than a show about ‘real people cooking real food’ right now.
A quick glance at the MKR Facebook page proves this point; longtime viewers have grown frustrated with the show’s heavy tilt towards concocted feuds, and are voicing that MKR no longer feels like a family-friendly food show, but a scripted and sensationalised drama.
Perhaps this was a deliberate decision made by a production team keen to meet high ratings targets, to deliver a show high on confrontation and low on substance, or perhaps the air of transparency has crept in slowly and surprisingly, only reaching an obvious level now.
Regardless, one thing is apparent: MKR‘s current format appears to be an alchemy of reality and fiction, and while that may pay off instantaneously for shallow plot lines, in the long run it’s pissing off loyal fans in droves.
LISTEN: The Binge discusses MKR. (Post continues…)
“I feel for the judges,” one viewer, Jo-Ann, writes on the show’s social media platform. “They are required to sit there and listen to all this crap because that is what the producers want. The producers of the show think controversy is the only way to attain ratings and have fallen off the premise of the show… manufacturing and promoting bad sportsmanship and general childish behaviour is not doing the show any favours.”
“This show has fallen a long way from its original season,” writes another, named Saxt.
“[The drama] is engineered by producers,” adds Christine. “But it is ruining programmes that a lot of family’s enjoy (sic).”
While MKR is clinging onto the ratings crown (it averages 1,244,000 viewers versus Married‘s 1,151,000), and indeed posted good results from its drama-laden episodes last week, another issue with the format has become clear online.
There are no heroes in its storyline.
While Married boasts gentlemen like Sean and Simon – the good guys who stick up to the douchebags who disrespect women – not a single MKR contestant or judge voiced concern over the “Seafood King” Josh calling competitor Amy a “slut”.
In fact, in comparison to Married‘s characters, it appears nobody from the MKR lineup is prepared to stand up to Josh… ever.
The result? Mothers and fathers claim the show is ignoring, and by extension condoning, bullying. And that's something they just don't want their school-aged kids to watch.
"Josh is a complete moron for calling Amy a "s%@t" on national TV," one comment reads. "You're all even more worse 'MKR' for actually letting the issue go by without doing anything about it..."
The comment doesn't stand alone. It's one of hundreds much the same.
So, where to from here?
It's not unlikely 2018 will see a return to the MKR Australia holds in its collective nostalgia - one that champions the Aussie battlers, the lifelong friends, and the passionate, talented cooks who had never really been given a shot until a TV show came knocking on their door. The ones who are there for the food, not because they have a propensity to call women 'sluts'.
Well, that's what I hope for, anyway.
As for the rest of 2017, it'll be very interesting what Channel 10's Masterchef dishes up.
What's your take on this season of My Kitchen Rules?