tv

Seven Year Switch started out the tackiest show on TV. Then finished as the best.

When the concept behind Seven Year Switch was first announced, it sent me into a spiral of despair.

Overseas networks are brimming with well-written dramas and bitingly sharp comedy offerings that have redefined television.

Meanwhile, here? In Australia? Well, our scripted dramas find it hard to get off the ground and even though we have scores of talented writers and actors who could make the kind of comedy shows that make people sit up and pay attention, the funding and interest just isn’t there.

Everywhere else in the world is having the Golden Age of Television, I fumed, except us.

All we get are sleazy reality TV shows that exploit emotionally vulnerable people for easy views. Shows that promote backstabbing, bullying and exclusion.

"All we get are sleazy reality TV shows that exploit emotionally vulnerable people." (Images: Channel 7)

And renovation shows. All those damn renovation shows...........but that's a rant for another day.

I could have kept all this on the inside, of course, but my Middle Child Syndrome refused to allow me to keep my feelings and thoughts on the inside and so I took to The Binge podcast to vent my inner turmoil.

On air I asked the listens, begged the listeners, not to watch them. To watch anything else instead.

“Australia I want to say to you: you are all bad people," I raged into the microphone while my co-host Rosie Waterland began to regret her decision to be locked in a small dark studio with me.

"You are rewarding bad behaviour. This is why we can’t have scripted television."

You can listen to our full conversation about Seven Year Switch here. Post continues below...

But then, the show unfolded on our screens, and no one took an ounce of notice about my impassioned plea to turn away from it. In fact, ratings went though the roof and it was an instant numbers success.

Thanks guys.

But, after getting up on my high horse and telling the wold it was an awful thing to watch, I'm here to say I was wrong. Completely and utterly wrong.

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It wasn't a horrific thing for us to have on our screens, it was important. And for some people, it was even life changing.

It was the viewers who changed my mind, who took the show that was presented to them and turned the way it was consumed completely on its head.

The show itself was everything I expected it to be, putting traumatised couples on TV for entertainment, under the guise of helping them work through their broken relationships. But this story is not about the Seven Year Switch powers-that-be, because it's useless to judge the network's motivation behind it. Networks are in the business of making money, not changing lives.

"Networks are in the business of making money, not changing lives." (Image: Channel 7)

I expected viewers to revel in these poor people's pain. To hold viewing to watch marriages break down. I started to wonder how much cheese and Coke Zero I would need to acquire in order to shut myself away from the world until it was all over.

But then the viewers saw through the salacious aspect on the show, and they began to display something I hadn't seen sweep through Facebook comments for a long time.

Empathy.

In large, people chose to sympathise with the couples, instead of judging them.

(I mean, a few people still ridiculed them. But, there's always one green chip in the box of perfectly cooked French Fries, isn't there?)

Margot Black wrote that she "sympathised with Seven Year Switch couples" because, like the show's Jason and Michelle , she too was in a sexless relationship.

Margot used the show as a catalyst to share her pain and work through her marriage, and readers were quick to jump into the comments and commemorate her for her words, while also sharing their own stories.

"Like the show's Jason and Michelle , she too was in a sexless relationship." (Image: Channel 7)
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Jo Abi wrote that "Seven Year Switch made me realise what was wrong with my marriage.

"I didn’t expect to love it so much. These brave people are so open and honest about their problems. It is clear they are all suffering and are desperate for a resolution."

Jo went on to write that her husband was never her best friend, at first, but the show made her realize how important that part of her relationship was.

"Maybe marrying your “wild lover” isn’t so bad after all, as long as you eventually develop a lasting friendship," she mused.

And yet again, readers were quick to empathize and agree.

Then, came one of the biggest turning points of Seven Year Switch's run.

In one of the final episodes, Brad got down on his knees to propose to estranged fiance Tallena, again, and she said "yes".

Sounds romantic, doesn't it? Well, not if you take into account the behaviour that came before.

Watch Brad's proposal to Tallena below. Post continues after video...

Video via Channel 7

Sending her a nasty letter, which she opened on her birthday, writing a cheque for $10,000 to cover their wedding and then ripping it up in anger while refusing to respond to her desperate  please of "I love you".

In the past, men have always been the champions of reality TV. On previous shows, just like on Seven Year Switch, their bad behavior is glossed over by producers who call them "cheeky", "man-child" and "larrikan" but this time viewers were quick to see through it and call it out for what it was.

Emotional abuse, and something that should be condoned. Not cheered for.

Social media was quickly flooded with posts calling out Brad's actions, offering support to Tallena and people pondering if their own friends might be trapped in similar relationships and need help.

How did a "social experiment" that split up troubled couples and persuaded them to air their dirty laundry on national TV end up bringing out the good in so many people?

I doubted the Australian public, but I was so wrong.  This wasn't the worst show on TV.

You showed me it was actually the best.

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