THERE’S ALREADY BEEN acres of debate and goodness knows how much written about the evils of reality TV, but coming home from Canada and the US (both of which are arguably the birthplace of ultra-crappy TV) really threw into sharp relief just how utterly and indescribably low television in New Zealand has sunk.
My long suffering wife is a huge fan of house and garden plus home renovation TV shows, and as such had set our already overstuffed MySky to record the NZ edition of The Block. What a complete waste of hard drive space and electricity.
Watching the show, I found that there were the usual bunch of otherwise nondescript and hapless couples all vying to win a bunch of challenges that were nothing short of thinly veiled adverts that would have been totally yawn-inducing for five-year-old kids if they’d been touted as birthday party games.
Bizarrely, every time each couple was on screen the show’s producers felt compelled to let us know how long each couple had been together via an on-screen graphic. Just what this added to the show I didn’t get, but then again, I simply didn’t care.
By this stage I could take no more and left the room to watch something else on the other TV for fear of my small intestine strangling my frontal cortex before it could be subject to any more lo-fi reality TV rubbish.
Since then, the burning question in the back of my mind has been how low has the viewing public gone to actually be interested on such utter viewing drivel?
Perhaps this speaks more about the sad state of television in New Zealand that our TV networks are resorting to handing over substantial amounts of cash to license brain-dead reality TV shows that aired to much viewer apathy across the Tasman and other countries.
Call me an old-fashioned guy, but is creating actual drama with real actors and an interesting script and/or plot too much to ask?
Sadly, the reality comes down to money. Actors have to be paid and sets built, and the liberal use of production crews mean dramas are costly undertakings for our cash starved TV networks, who in the face of declining advertising revenues and the rise of the Facebook generation must continue to struggle along to service a near Third World market at the arse-end of the globe.
With reality TV, contestants will sometimes literally sweat bullets in front of a camera for free, while the sets are old houses which once renovated by the contestants (again for free) can be sold for a modest profit. Enriching the TV networks’ coffers is the fact that each and every segment of a reality TV show is usually little more than an advert, thanks to the wonders of product placement and sponsorship. All told it makes for yawn-inducing and truly rubbish TV, but the sad truth is that it does pay its own way.
Perhaps the accountants who’ve highjacked our TV viewing experience should be made to watch this drivel as they fondle their abacus beads and count their money. PAT PILCHER