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'Please don't ask me to feel sorry for reality TV contestants.'

BY MAGGIE HAMILTON

So we still need to talk about The Block finale.

Because although it’s been 24 hours since the hammer came down and smashed up some dreams of giant piles of cash, everyone’s still looking at each other asking, “What went wrong?”

Seriously. Because if a group of attractive and hard-working reality TV stars didn’t walk away with half-a-million in the bank after three months of filming, there must be something very wrong with the world.

Images via Channel 9’s The Block.

In case you missed it, the reality TV show The Block came to a head last night. In recent seasons it’s been a veritable money-shower over at Channel Nine, with last year’s winners taking home almost $400,000.

Some lucky people made that kind of money last night, too. But all the attention has been on the couples who didn’t – three pairs who walked away with “only” between $10,000 and $40,000 for all their hard work.

Sorry, but even for a nation obsessed with real estate, there’s something very ugly and entitled about the weeping and hand-wringing that’s been going on over the auction.

Of course it hurts when expectations aren’t met. It really sucks that the nice boys next door are pocketing 20 times the amount of others who worked just as hard. It must be completely galling to have spent months away from your work, your family and your friends for what works out as half the national hourly wage. But here’s the thing.

Images via Channel 9’s The Block.

That’s the risk they took.

Going on The Block and thinking you’re guaranteed to walk away with life-changing money is like going on The Bachelor thinking you’re going to meet the father of your children – a nice idea, perfectly possible, but never a Sure Thing. There’s always going to be a risk that you’re going to end up with a red face and a pretty bauble to sell on eBay.

Of course these people – Michael and Carlene, Darren and Deanne, Max and Karstan – are not shallow villains. They have every right to be disappointed, because they have been misled by a reality TV culture that promises easy fixes from fame and fortune.

Images via Channel 9’s The Block.

Going on a reality show seems like a ticket out of an average life. Look at Julie Goodwin, who took out the first Masterchef and now has a food column in the most-read magazine in the country and lots of lovely cookbooks selling like (excuse the pun) hot cakes.

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Look at Ricki-Lee Coulter, Jessica Maubouy and Guy Sebastian, all of whom now have lovely steady gigs as popstars after appearing on Australian Idol.

And look at the amazing Chrissie Swan, who had to go on Big Brother for the country to notice how such a warm, smart and funny woman could enhance the national conversation.

But for every life changed for the better by sending in an audition tape, there’s another story that isn’t quite so sparkly.

Tonight on Australian Story, the winner of one of the most watched reality shows of all time, Karise Eden from the first – and best- episode of the The Voice, says that pressure from reality TV caused her to have a near breakdown, and sent her into hiding.

Over on Big Brother, a young women has deleted her social media accounts and reportedly “gone into hiding” because her boyfriend slept with someone else on a television show.

And earlier this year, another renovation show, House Rules, was blamed for the split of Candy and Ryan – who said the pressure of the show was too much for their relationship and left them only with a complicated property settlement to deal with.

Do we really expect more?

So while on a personal level there’s plenty of sympathy to be had for these couples whose plans were derailed by last night’s auction results. But at the same time, so much national hand-wringing about a puckering real-estate bubble looks like an entitled first-world tantrum.

If you’re in a position to put your life on hold to go on a reality show, you’re already lucky. If you’re entertaining and industrious enough to make it through the auditions, chances are you’ll find another way to make your life look how you want it.

Yes, you go on The Block for money, but there are other ways to make money, and other reasons to go on The Block. Past contestants are now stage performers (Amity Dry), TV stars (Dr Andrew thingy) and full-time interior designers (the twins from last year, Alysa and something). Not a bad run-rate.

And $40,000, plus the resulting magazine deals, plus the platform you now have to spin your short-term fame into longer-term success?

Well, it really isn’t worth crying over.

What did you think about The Block fall out? Did you feel sorry for the contestants?

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