What Pisses Me Off: Free-to-air TV

What really pisses me off these days is the desperately poor quality of free-to-air television, especially those so-called “reality” shows, though anything further from reality would be hard to find!

Particularly bad are the ‘reno’ shows, where groups of idiots compete to make their shoddy do-it-yourself work look fractionally better than the other competitors. Whichever channel is putting on this masterwork of bland, and there are several competing amongst themselves to win the Australian viewer, the format is pretty well exactly the same. They always have two girls, either friends or sisters as one team, then there’s the father/mother and son/daughter couple, followed almost inevitably by the homosexual pair and the two mates, who have been working on the oil rigs for ten years and suddenly found they work well together. Around about the fourth or fifth episode of the show, there will be some sort of row between two of the teams, while episode six may have a fight between the loving, unmarried-but-living-together couple who, until now have had their hands more on each other than on the job. As for the work they all produce, it all looks shoddy, with over-bright colours, cheap everything and poor craftsmanship, destined to last a couple of years before it all has to be done again – properly!

Masterchef is the one exception to the air of solid boredom, with fairly real people producing some rather nice looking dishes, all of them working as individuals, not silly “teams”. But even that show is now deteriorating, not through the quality of the concept, but because of simple over-exposure; how many years have we been watching it now? And if they must continue, when are they going to find some new way of producing it, so that it at least wins back a little of the early interest. The trouble is, cooking is by definition a fairly narrow art, with little room for variety in the way it is presented, though the Masterchef team have made a pretty good job of getting the most out of the notion. I wish the same could be said about the competing show, ‘My Kitchen Rules’, but unfortunately that has built around the same ‘team mode’ used by so many other ‘reality’ shows!

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‘X-Factor’, ‘The Voice’ and ‘Australia’s Got Talent’ are also the result of three channels trying to compete with each other for a single format show, basically the music genre, though AGT does incorporate a few other types of act as well. But they are all basically an hour of youngsters, singing their hearts out, some with little talent, the only major cost to the TV station it would appear, being the designs of their stages. Again, over-exposure is a major drawback to these shows; too much air space being filled by too few different formats and too little talent.

‘Sylvania Waters’ must accept the blame for the arrival of low cost, low level, low intelligence television which pretends to be what it is not, most of it heavily scripted, if not word-for-word, then in the planning of what action is to take place each week. Ironically, I thought the stuff of this nature had gone about as low as television could go, when ‘Sylvania’ entered our living rooms, but reality TV has managed to go lower than that, with each new sparkling idea we are presented with being worse than the last, right up to the present, with that fulfilling new program we are forced to avoid because it is so awful, called ‘Married at First Sight’, but I’m not going to say any more about that – it’s just too sad! Yes, I know, there are many other examples of reality shows, some far worse than the few I have mentioned, but I am just trying to draw a sketch here, not a complete work of art!

I have a theory about all this rubbish we are subjected to; I think it is a cunning ploy on the part of the television companies, to make us all so desperate to watch anything rather than reality television, that we will eventually skip over to Fox TV. It will be just like British TV then, only they call it the licence fee and we call it pay television!