Flab rats are rat­ings poi­son

Herald Sun - Switched On - - On The Couch -

IT’S been the year of the funeral plan. How far off are the pol­ished cam­paigns us­ing celebri­ties pre­tend­ing to be real peo­ple? I would say Fe­bru­ary. And I’m go­ing to stick my neck out and say Denise Drys­dale’s been ap­proached al­ready. They have been hugely suc­cess­ful, and I know this with­out mak­ing one phone call, be­cause they are on air all the time. More than any other prod­uct. Which means Sandy and the name­less op­er­a­tor who tells Sandy her age will be his se­cret, their days are num­bered. To use an in­dus­try term.

If only ev­ery­thing else was as pre­dictable as death. All last sum­mer Nine played fan­tas­tic look­ing pro­mos for a celebrity weight loss show, Ex­cess Bag­gage. And they’d man­aged a pretty de­cent coup by get­ting Kevin Fed­er­line. It was look­ing like a hit.

Here’s the thing. A movie trailer, they’re al­ways great. You buy your ticket, you get in, the movie’s ter­ri­ble, it’s too late, you’ve paid your money. Tele­vi­sion’s not like that. Those pro­mos, peo­ple de­cided, were the best thing about Ex­cess Bag­gage, and once they’d fig­ured that out, they turned it off.

My the­ory is, we don’t want to look at fat peo­ple any­more. It’s too con­fronting. It ac­counts for the de­cline of The Big­gest Loser. We don’t mind a bit of but­ter in our cook­ing though. Not that cook­ing shows are really about the cook­ing. My Kitchen Rules emerged as the hit cook­ing show this year, through a com­bi­na­tion of cast­ing and sched­ul­ing, tricky things to get right, but which were also be­hind The Block’s resur­gence. Or partly. There are also so­ci­o­log­i­cal forces at play here, but that ap­plies to all shows, ev­ery year. Do you think Re­venge would’ve hap­pened in a pre-GFC Amer­ica? No­body would even have thought of it.

Plus there’s that thing again, shows on a Wed­nes­day night run­ning into trou­ble. I still think Pu­berty Blues would’ve been seen by more peo­ple on a Sun­day night, or Mon­day. Or a Tues­day, when peo­ple’s heads are slumped on their chest and the Rafters are at the boat club. They didn’t put The Ju­lian As­sange Story on a Wed­nes­day night, you’ll no­tice, and it gave Ten their first Sun­day night hit in 27 weeks.

What didn’t hap­pen this year was va­ri­ety. That wor­ries me. It be­comes self-ful­fill­ing. The Voice was huge, The X-Fac­tor, Nine’s bought Aus­tralia’s Got Tal­ent: iden­ti­cal ex­pe­ri­ences, ba­si­cally. Aus­tralian drama was solid, mostly, and I largely feel any­thing is bet­ter than noth­ing, but I can­not sit there and see the same 10 ac­tors in the same half dozen pro­duc­tions. Please. Let’s try not to over­work Rhonda.

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