Friends in need find support
New shows will focus on help between strangers, writes
AUSTRALIAN hits like A Farmer Wants a Wife and Please Marry My Boy are of the type which are being picked up around the world.
Helping people overcome a life challenge, find true love or track down children snatched by an estranged partner: community support is the latest trend in reality television.
Many new show format that will hit TV screens in coming months focus on the idea of help between strangers, says French TV research company The Wit.
‘‘Whereas in the past, people went to experts to help solve their problems, those in crisis now ask their neighbours for help,’’ says Virginia Mouseler, managing director at the Paris-based company.
‘‘The strongest trend in TV productions today is peer-to-peer recommendations.’’
That reflects a broader trend entrenched by social networks that values advice from peers above that of experts.
In Neighbours, a pilot on the Oprah (Winfrey) channel, a family in crisis asks for hel at a community meeting.
The twist is the family hands over control to one or two neighbours, who become mentors, helping them to find solutions to challenges they face.
Another show, Audience is a more extreme example. This time, 50 strangers cram into the home of a person who needs help through a crisis. The strangers live, eat and sleep in the house for seven days, constantly delivering advice – as well as unwelcome truths about the problem.
Another show on the helping-hand theme, Missing, which aired in Denmark in January, helps parents find a missing child or children, spirited abroad by an estranged partner. In season one, half the abducted children were reunited with their families.
One perennial favourite, the dating show, also returns to screens, with a slew of new programming on screens around the world.
Farmer Wants a Wife is currently ranked as the No.1 show in the Netherlands, Belgium and Germany.
New shows mining the lonely hearts theme include Please Marry My Boy, which has just ended in Australia on Channel 7. Three mums help their sons to meet the girl of their dreams via a series of challenges.
The two hot trends come together in Israel’s Dear Neighbours, Help Our Daughter Find Love, in which a local community works together to find a husband for a local family’s daughter. She is blissfully unaware of what they are up until she arrives on a visit, and is asked to choose a partner from three male candidates the village have selected for her.
In Fools for Love, which debuted in Denmark in March, the participant sees a panel slide away to reveal – an old flame.
Mum Milena and son Vlad interview a prospective wife in a recent episode of Channel 7’s Australian hit