When Sophie Monk was announced as Channel 10’s next Bachelorette, Australia was – largely – quite excited to see such a shake-up on screen.
In recent years, the Bachelor and Bachelorette have come to be prominent fixtures on our small screens, with the formula as tried and tested as the contestants are typecast.
But for this season, as far as the stringent boundaries of reality TV goes, The Bachelorette producers might as well have picked up their scripts, covered them in permanent marker, put them in the shredder and thrown them out the window of the 31st floor.
This year, the tried and tested formula lasting no longer, our very own home-grown celebrity trying her hand at love instead. And even better – we get a shot at watching the narrative unfold first hand as organically as if it were to happen behind closed doors. (Well, as organically as can be so long as it fits in to 50-minute episodes and a carefully curated story arc.) What could be better? Not even world peace. I know.
But the minute Channel 10 announced Sophie Monk as Bachelorette some weeks ago, she was doomed from the very start.
Pessimistic? Probably. Uncalled for? Unlikely.
The point is a simple one, but plays on the one thread that binds so-much of reality TV: the pursuit of fame.
Here’s the thing: When Channel 10 did announce Monk as The Bachelorette, they did it far earlier than they ever have before. They did this for two reasons.
Firstly, to avoid the risk of the news leaking before the network had the opportunity to do the honours, and secondly, because Monk herself wanted the men to know. She’s no ordinary Bachelorette, and everyone from the producers to Monk knows that.
And so, in breaking the news early, Channel 10 wanted to give vying suitors a heads up. Which could be exactly the problem, and runs the risk of many-a-suitor jumping online and applying for the series on the basis of, well, fame.
For sure, you'd be living in a fun little bubble assuming that every single person who applied for The Bachelor did so for love. It's not unfair to say a small portion do so for fame.
But in Monk's season, the portion of suitors pursuing fame over love may be more heightened. After all, they knew who they were applying to be with and the level of stardom that comes with that.
Naturally, to adopt this train of thought would be to have a fairly unfavourable and cynical view of the world and the people within it. Or, it might just speak to how much time you've spent analysing reality television. (Hint: I've done so a lot.)
No-one wants to see Monk paired up with someone genuinely lovely more than I do. She doesn't need fame, her status and reputation are well established. She's on this for love. And for that reason, you could argue she's one of the most transparent contestants in the show's short history.
Here's just hoping the men are the same.
The Binge discusses Sophie Monk's appointment.