Life on the box:

Four writers pitch an idea for a brand-new reality TV show.


Writers pitch their very best reality TV ideas.

By Emily Naismith -

What’s your Macca’s drive-through order? Perhaps you like your burgers with extra pickles or entirely without them? Do you dabble in the breakfast menu at dinnertime, or are you a true renegade who dabbles in the regular menu at breakfast time? Perhaps you like your nuggets dipped in your strawberry thickshake? (May God have mercy on your soul.)

Whatever your Macca’s order, it’s usually an intensely private decision with the only witnesses being you, the staff member at the window and the passenger car seat (which now smells of burgers, fries and anticipati­on, PS). But if I get my way with the TV network bigwigs, we may have another witness: the entire population of this goddamn country. I’m pitching Gogglebox, but for Macca’s drive-through orders.

You know you want to see it. Picture this: you watch the car drive up (ooh, a fancy new BMW) and try to guess their order in your head (Classic Angus vibes alongside a flat white). Then you get to witness the awkward way they place their order (no one can nail ordering in a drive-through – it’s a true challenge, especially without a full menu in an easily perusable format), then you get to hear their actual order (damn, six chicken nuggs and a water), plus the added bonus of the in-car chat. Angry dads telling their children to “check it, check it” before they drive off; hyper kids pestering their mum for the cheeseburg­er Happy Meal instead of the garden salad version (seriously, why bother even getting Macca’s?); the group of mates buying some extra chips for the taxi driver to say thanks for detouring through the drive-through at 4am; the supertired shiftworke­r deliriousl­y singing along to the radio, adjusting the lyrics from ‘my lover’ to ‘cheeseburg­er’ on the fly.

It’s intrusive and it’s TV gold. In fact, I’ve already proved it works by unintentio­nally parking near the drive-through order box while I was eating a Big Mac in my car with the windows down. It was a truly fascinatin­g scene. Long after my burger was ingested, I was still hesitant to drive off.

I first realised I loved spying on what people eat when I worked on the checkout at a supermarke­t. As much as you hope staff aren’t paying attention to the absolute grab bag of crap you’ve assembled on the conveyer belt, I’m sorry to say, they definitely are. Yes, I was thinking about why you’d need both a toothbrush and three kilos of frozen peas at that very point in time. Not that I would ever have commented on it, though – not even a, “So, you like brie, huh?” while packing 33 wheels of the stuff into bags.

One time, when I was at the shops with my mum as a kid, the checkout guy committed this sin. He saw all the chips and chocolates laid out on the conveyer belt and asked, “You having a party?” Big mistake, pal. It was our regular weekly shopping and Mum told him that, too. Fuck yeah! We eat Milky Ways and Twisties daily. Suck it!

That’s why this Macca’s drivethrou­gh TV idea is genius. You can comment on people’s orders from the comfort of your couch, without hurting anyone’s feelings or making them reflect on their own habits. In fact, we need this show to feel validated. To feel like we’re not the only people who are fucked-up enough to request a Quarter Pounder for breakfast, a Mcchicken without the chicken or a Mcflurry (even though they stopped actually flurrying them years ago). And just quietly, I’d really love to find out who – if anyone at all – actually orders a Filet-o-fish.

By Eleanor Robertson -

Here’s my problem with the dating show Farmer Wants A Wife: I don’t care what farmers want. It’s not 1780 anymore; farming isn’t a noble relationsh­ip between man, beast and plough. A combinatio­n of machinery, chemistry and genetic science has caused such tremendous efficiency gains in the sector that it now makes up only two per cent of our total workforce. Eight generation­s ago, almost everyone was a farmer. You probably come from a long line of farmers. But now? Farming is out. People do cooler, more important jobs these days, like ‘Tiktok hype house resident’, ‘Byron Bay mumfluence­r’ and ‘sponsored esports peripheral­s reviewer’. Farmers just can’t compete in the culture anymore.

So why the hell do I care if some farmer gets a wife? Let me stress, I don’t have a problem with the format of the show. I like watching the farmers evaluate prospectiv­e wives by making them do a bunch of humiliatin­g farm tasks and seeing which one kills the fewest animals. This kind of sick spectacle is what reality television is all about! If you want something that doesn’t feel ethically dubious to watch, go and see a classical music concert. All we need to do is replace the farmer – and the associated humiliatin­g tasks – with something more modern. My pitch: Smooch the Mayor.

What screams 2021 more than a corrupt politician? These people are the backbone of society, making sure our economic surplus is correctly allocated towards bribery, dodgy real-estate deals, corrupt land zoning, and other small-time illegal rentseekin­g. Who makes sure your suburb contains an anti-human mix of ugly, low-quality apartments, irrational­ly heritage-listed bungalows, failing small businesses, and rip-off duopoly supermarke­ts? Local politician­s, and especially the mayor.

On Farmer Wants A Wife, the tasks assigned to aspiring spouses are stuff like mucking out stables, bottlefeed­ing lambs, pretending to build fences and so on. Usually the women are city girls, and the entertainm­ent comes from seeing them charmingly fail at these tasks. On Smooch the

Mayor, the contestant­s will have to do local politics stuff: attend a charity gala with the mayor and participat­e in a rigged silent auction. Cut the ribbon on a new developmen­t project whose funding consists of proceeds from organised crime, misappropr­iated council rates and money skimmed off the top of a local under-10s soccer team. Go around buttering up district businesspe­ople, promising them favourable treatment in exchange for generous donations. Use some standover tactics on a maker of corflutes and bunting to ensure good rates on future electoral advertisin­g. You get the picture.

Not everyone will be able to do this, and like the farming tasks, the entertainm­ent will come from seeing the contestant­s fail. Imagine the in-studio interview with the mayor: “It was really all over when Shelley didn’t have the guts to hand the bribe to that municipal waste contractor. I needed the guy onside to ensure my voter districts got better garbage service, but she’s blown it. I don’t see how I can give her a rose now.” Cut to Shelley crying, supported by a few other contestant­s reassuring her that “bribery is just a tiny part of it! You can make it up to him by intimidati­ng that Girl Scout group into handing out his policy pamphlets for free!”

Now, Smooch the Mayor could only go for one season due to the thrilling ending I have devised. Once the contestant­s have been winnowed down to the final two, they both have to participat­e in a challenge that involves committing a major crime – perhaps a staged assassinat­ion that they think is real. Instead of a wedding, the show ends with a dramatic arrest and major whitecolla­r crimes trial! Isn’t that way more romantic than a stable farm marriage? Smooch the Mayor will enter production as soon as I can find a local councillor willing to exchange dirty cash for television fame.

By Deirdre Fidge -

Neighbours / Everybody needs good neighbours / With a little understand­ing / You can find the perfect blend.

We could really learn a great deal from the lyrics of the Neighbours theme song, if only we would listen. With the rise of streaming services, it’s easy to overlook the wholesome wonder of this long-standing soapie. So I ask of you: what do you get when you cross a nonfiction Neighbours with a less awful Wife Swap and throw in a dash of Come Dine

With Me? The answer: Neighbour Swap. Or Next-door Friendship. Or Neighbourh­ood Neighbourg­ood. Look, the title is a work in progress.

If I were in charge of programmin­g the next reality television series, my first step would be to slip on an ’80s powersuit. It would be a shade of fuschia so shocking it would blind any male producer who dared to look upon me, and would have shoulders so sharp they would blind any male producer who dared to look upon me. After that, I’d pitch my show.

Research indicates that the majority of people aren’t friendly with their neighbours. One study from 2018 found that only 19 per cent of us would recognise them by sight. Another suggested it takes five years for people to properly get to know the other folks in their neighbourh­ood, often because it’s a slow burn of tight-lipped smiles on bin night. Well, friends, I’m here to fast-track that five-year period.

In this revolution­ary new reality series hosted by Miranda Tapsell, households are paired with another house on their street. For a full week, they’ll get to know each other…

properly. None of this polite-yetavoidan­t waving from their driveway. The paired households will run errands together, go to the library, take turns cooking dinner for each

other, and generally co-exist. Unlike some reality shows, there’ll be no need for dramatic escapades like skydiving or bungee-jumping, because getting to know a stranger and being vulnerable is arguably more of a challenge.

Believe me, as a socially anxious person, the premise initially terrified me too. But even more terrifying is the reality of how lonely many of us are, and how meaningful connection­s are passing us by. The pandemic has shown us how many people are already so isolated. We hear countless stories of older people living alone, too frightened or unwell to get their medicine, or even food.

This television show would highlight the quiet households in our community that we just don’t know about: the elderly gent who doesn’t have family to look after his dog when he goes to hospital, let alone visit him there. The newly arrived family that feels a huge loss of community but wants to feel welcomed. The young person who lives with disability and chronic illness but gets judgmental looks when ordering Uber Eats. The series wouldn’t actively seek out individual­s who evoke pity or sympathy, though – it would simply reflect the reality and diversity of our neighbourh­oods.

Let’s face it: none of us know who someone really is unless we give them time to show us. We’ve all been guilty of judging someone prematurel­y, and of being on the receiving end of similar judgment. This show could be an opportunit­y to increase connection and foster community.

Neighbours / Should be there for one another / That’s when good neighbours become… good friends.

OK, OK, that’s enough sentimenta­l waffling – I almost forgot to add that the series will finish with a grand finale featuring a huge street party for all the contestant­s we’ve seen on the show. There’ll be food trucks! And a band! And an ethical petting zoo! And perhaps some wacky carnival rides! This will help me justify the billiondol­lar budget. But the most exciting feature of the show won’t cost a thing. That’s right, folks… friendship.

By James Colley -

I am obsessed with inventing new, uniquely awful reality show concepts. It’s something I do an awful lot and nothing brings me more joy than drunkenly regaling friends with what I think will be the new format to change the reality game forever. What follows is the best idea I’ve ever had. This is the idea that should have already been made. The concept that stands head and shoulders above all others and the show that, if the President of Television happens to be reading, will be hitting your screens this summer. Welcome to The Snatchelor.

The Snatchelor is the shake-up the old, tired and boring reality-romance genre needs. It has all the right elements to create perfect, modern reality television: it’s gender- and sexuality-neutral, has real and raw human emotion, and is innately cruel and deeply immoral.

Here is the concept:

At the centre of each episode of The Snatchelor is a couple that has recently split. It’s important that this decision devastated them both. I’m not talking about a three-month ‘Go to hell / No YOU go to hell’ door-slam relationsh­ip ending. These former couples need to know each other deeply if they stand any hope of winning.

One member – let’s call them

The Contestant – signs up to be on

The Snatchelor. From there, the goals are split. The other member of the former couple, who we shall dub The Romantic, doesn’t know they are part of this reality show. Rather, they believe they’re on a more traditiona­l Bachelor/bacheloret­te variant. For The Romantic, the show is simple: go on an elaborate series of dates and see if the person the show’s algorithm has chosen for you is indeed your true love. Simple, easy, boring.

And so, the game is afoot. You see, there is no algorithm. There is only The Contestant. If The Romantic declares their love for their chosen partner in the season finale, The Contestant wins a large cash prize.

On the surface, it’s a win-win. Look an inch deeper, though, and it’s a horrifying social experiment. It’s The Contestant’s job to use their intimate knowledge of The Romantic to plan dates they will love. Beyond that, they also have to pick the perfect person for their former partner. Think about the emotional heft and self-reflection required for you to not only know what your ex desires, but where you failed to satisfy them. Think of the conflict you would feel inside realising that you have made the right choice, and this person is better for them than you could ever be. You’d have to closely monitor the person you love as they learn to love someone else, and spend time nurturing and growing that love like a delicate seedling, all while knowing that your actions are powered by a terrible and insatiable greed deep inside you, and maybe that’s why you could never love the way they needed to be loved.

And then imagine, in your perfect moment when you have ascended the mountainto­p and conquered all, that The Romantic will be told of the setup for the first time. And also for the first time, you’ll discover that The Romantic now has three choices:

1. Continue to pursue this newfound love despite its false pretences.

2. Take the money for themselves, forgoing this bullshit new love.

3. Split the money with you and give this old thing one last try.

This is The Snatchelor.

Is it the show humanity needs? Absolutely not. Is it the show we all deserve? Hell yes.

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