Back to reality

Series one of The X Factor New Zealand was simultaneously the best and worst television show ever. Series two is on its way and all going well, it will be even better and worse.

It’s not due to screen until 2015, but I’m so excited that I’ve written a preview for The Spinoff and you should go and read it right now. It includes this masterfully constructed infographic:


The piece starts off with a gag where I pretend I can’t remember who won series one. After the article was linked on the official X Factor NZ Facebook page, all these people commented like, “Duh, it was Jackie Thomas!!!!” Oh, of course.

There are a lot of major reality shows coming to New Zealand television in 2015. As well as The X Factor, TV3 is also making local versions of The Bachelor and Grand Designs, and no doubt TVNZ will have some more to add to the mix.

A lot of people lament the golden days of the TVNZ charter in the ’00s, and remember all the quality programming on TVNZ7 (especially the book show). But guys, it wasn’t all like that.

Mostly, TVNZ fulfilled its charter obligations by making lots of cheap fly-on-the-wall half-hour reality TV shows. Some of them, like Neighbours at War and Piha Rescue, were successes (and let’s not forget the enduring legacy of Popstars), but there was so much crap in there as well.

I watched a lot of shows like this when I was making closed captions for TVNZ in that period. As well as property shows galore, there were series about health inspectors, the SPCA, dog shows, navy recruits, and troubled youth. Some of these might sound vaguely familiar, but others won’t because they were dumped in graveyard time slots, like 2 o’clock on a Sunday afternoon. The series about the naval recruits, which was one of the most painfully boring shows to caption, ended up being canned after a couple of episodes, no doubt because it was so boring.

When National removed the TVNZ charter, all those crappy shows stopped being produced and TVNZ switched to making local versions of big-deal reality shows. Yeah, the My Kitchen Rules format comes from Australia, but as Morrissey once sang, this one is different because it’s ours.

And frankly, I would rather see a local version of The X Factor or My Kitchen Rules than watch a series featuring a council worker inspecting the grease trap of a Chinese takeaway.

Now there just needs to be a New Zealand version of Big Brother and I’ll be happy.

6 thoughts on “Back to reality”

  1. New Zealand dating/mating rituals are different in many regards from their American equivalents. I wonder if The Bachelor: Aotearoa will adapt itself to the local or push the international. (“For tonight’s destination date, you’re going to the LoneStar at happy hour!”)

    1. “I was really impressed with him. Not only did he take me to Lonestar, but he had a voucher for two free Coronas and an upgrade to large chicken wings.”

      1. Also: The [American] Bachelor is notoriously demure about sex, despite the successive “special romantic one-on-one” dates that constitute the semi-finals. Will the NZ version be the same, or will the theme of competitive rooting be more openly acknowledged?

        1. This is a half-remembered story, but around the turn of the millennium there was a NZ reality show that involved some sort of bachelor/dating concept. There was a hotel room with cameras in it and after a party there was a very strong rumour that one of TrueBliss had shagged one of the guys on camera. Whatever happened, it never screened. But it pales in comparison when you consider all the blatant rooting that now takes places on UK and European reality shows.

          1. I recall that very argument being part of the smoothing of the way for Big Brother to be made in Anglophone countries – that the Dutch and the German (?) contestants had blithely done what the Australians called the dancing doona right from season one. As everyone found out, the sex was a mere sidebar to the psychodrama.

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