reality tv

You think The Block's bullying storyline is bad? You've forgotten about My Kitchen Rules.

In 2018, My Kitchen Rules was embroiled in a bullying scandal that would see two women become the first contestants in the show's history to be axed.

The reality TV show's producers painted contestants Sonya Mefaddi and Hadil Faiza as the villains of their season. 

The best friends were known for starting fights during the show's dinner parties, with one particular incident seeing Hadil refer to contestant Emma as "a blowfish", while further insulting her lips.

It was then MKR judge Manu Feildel "excused" the women from the table.

"Blowfish… is the blowfish asking for air? I’ve got a really good doctor you could go to that can fix your ugly face," Hadil said to Emma. "We look natural, you’ve gone wrong."

Emma retaliated, calling her "Bubba Gump".

Sonya and Hadil were also involved in an off-air "physical altercation" after, with Italian brothers Josh and Nic.

Image: Channel 7.


For the show, the big drama also drew in big numbers, reaching an audience of 2.39 million viewers nationwide.

But then viewership declined notably, in both 2019 and 2020. 

Fans were appalled, likening MKR to reality TV shows centred around toxic behaviour like Big Brother and Married at First Sight.

"It was so much better when they did the hometown cooks and it actually felt like a COOKING show," one viewer said at the time.

While another agreed: "Why would you people change a great show? It's so tragic I turned it off."

The same year MKR's ratings were at their lowest, MasterChef returned with its three new judges.

The season premiere was watched by an average 1.23 million metropolitan viewers, making it the highest-rating season launch in five years.

Interesting to note, there was nothing but wholesome cooking and contestants with heartwarming backstories to talk about. 

After their 2020 season, My Kitchen Rules went on hiatus. 

The show returned in 2022, with judge Manu Fidel saying viewers could expect "great food and no drama" when watching the new season. 

That same focus continues, with a new season coming out any minute now.


The 2018 MKR scandal makes you think about this season of The Block and the toxic bullying narrative at the centre of its storyline. 

Since the season began, couples Leah and Ash and Kristy and Brett have been targeting Steph, who is competing with husband Gian.

After a week of being bullied and gossiped about while trying to work on her bathroom, Steph shared that her mental health was not good. She was at a breaking point with the stress of the room and being isolated by the other teams.

Despite this, the bullying continued.

Rather than pulling the contestants into line, The Block made it their main storyline, promoting the 'drama' and the 'scandal'.

It's no longer about the builds, and viewers have noticed.

As Evie Farrell wrote for Mamamia, "It’s a renovation show! When we watch we want to see renovations. We want to see likable couples we can support and follow while they create beautiful rooms and homes."

"They think we want to see bullying and drama and scandal. We don’t. I don’t think we ever did."

It will be interesting to see how The Block's ratings go as the season progresses. 

Because this is just another reminder that viewers of 'wholesome' reality TV shows are there for exactly that - the cooking, the renovations. 

If people want drama, there are plenty of other shows to watch. The Block has to remember that. 

If they don't, the same thing could happen to them that happened to My Kitchen Rules.

Feature image: Channel Nine.

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