What re­al­ity TV re­ally says about us

Th­ese shows re­flect what Ki­wis think and it’s all a bit of a hor­ror

The New Zealand Herald - - Entertainment - Siena Yates

Re­al­ity TV is tak­ing over in New Zealand; be­tween Danc­ing with the Stars,

Sur­vivor, First Dates, the past Bach­e­lors, Real Housewives and all the cook-offs and DIY drama, there’s no deny­ing us Ki­wis love a good dose of “re­al­ity”.

The ques­tion is: How much of it is real?

I’m sure many of you are itch­ing to get to your key­boards to tell me it’s all scripted garbage de­signed to get rat­ings and so on and so forth.

I just wish you were right.

In the past cou­ple of weeks I’ve been tun­ing into Danc­ing with the

Stars, Sur­vivor and First Dates, and ev­ery sin­gle series has shown me sides of New Zealand I wish weren’t real, but they are.

The re­al­ity check was harsh­est on a re­cent episode of First Dates in which al­most ev­ery sin­gle­ton on the show seemed ob­sessed with race.

There was 23-year-old Jessie-May who said she’s “got a thing for guys with darker skin”, “like Usain Bolt”, and was so per­sis­tent on the mat­ter it flew di­rectly at the line be­tween pref­er­ence and fetishism. She was part­nered with Damian, who said: “My type of girl is ba­si­cally a white girl . . . with a nice ass”.

When they met at the bar, she hugged him and said: “Oh, you look so ex­otic” and im­me­di­ately asked where he was from.

An­other sin­gle­ton spec­i­fied her type was “brown boys” and de­scribed

her date as a cul­tural “fruit salad”, while an­other called a friend who al­most im­me­di­ately asked: “well, is he Ma¯ori or Pa¯keha¯?”

A friend who also watches the show won­dered out loud: Is it racism or is it pref­er­ence?

I won’t claim to know the an­swer. Phys­i­cal at­trac­tion is def­i­nitely im­por­tant, but the way peo­ple tack­led race like it was a deal breaker, as if the colour of some­one’s skin some­how im­pacted on the kind of per­son they were, is an is­sue.

And it’s an is­sue preva­lent in so­ci­ety. A look at dat­ing apps proves it, with bios bluntly in­struct­ing: “No In­dian men”, “No Ma¯ori women”, “No white boys”, “No Asians”.

That’s not all. Over on Sur­vivor there’s a dif­fer­ent is­sue at hand.

A re­cently elim­i­nated con­tes­tant claimed sex­ism was at play in her be­ing axed from the com­pe­ti­tion. She prob­a­bly has a point.

The first Sur­vivor voted out was Jose, de­spite the fact she led the team, won the chal­lenges and was con­sis­tently one of the strong­est per­form­ers. Then fol­lowed Karla, voted off for be­ing the “weak­est” mem­ber — based on noth­ing more than the fact that she was an “older” woman, then Frankie and Kaysha got the boot de­spite be­ing two of the strong­est play­ers in the game.

Fol­low­ing her exit, Frankie March called her fel­low con­tes­tants out say­ing they were “re­ally threat­ened by strong women” and added there were “chau­vin­is­tic at­ti­tudes still re­ally preva­lent”.

Clearly, New Zealand still holds some at­ti­tudes that there are sep­a­rate call­ings for men and women. The hunter/gath­erer as­pect of Sur­vivor is for men, and for women, the glitz and glam of ball­room danc­ing, per­haps?

On Danc­ing with the Stars, there’s no deny­ing the women are be­ing held to a higher stan­dard than the men.

While they are pulled up on small tech­ni­cal­i­ties like point­ing their toes, the men seem to get a gold star just for turn­ing up.

Some­how, Gilda Kirk­patrick and Naz Khan­jani have been kicked to the kerb. Is it be­cause they’re women? Is it be­cause they’re Ira­nian? Is it be­cause they are both no-non­sense, di­rect, strong-willed women?

It’s cer­tainly not be­cause they were bad dancers, be­cause if that were the case David Sey­mour and Zac Franich would be long gone, but in­stead they’re com­mended for things like “giv­ing it your all”.

This isn’t new: The Bach­e­lor, Real Housewives, Mar­ried at First Sight,

even My Kitchen Rules have re­vealed some ugly truths.

So while re­al­ity TV may not be “real”, the way th­ese shows un­fold are a re­flec­tion of our re­al­ity as Ki­wis and from what I’m see­ing, it’s be­com­ing a bit of a hor­ror show.

An­other sin­gle­ton spec­i­fied her type was ‘brown boys’ and de­scribed her date as a cul­tural ‘fruit salad’ .

Photo / Sup­plied

It ap­pears un­de­ni­able that women are held to a higher stan­dard than men on Danc­ing with the Stars.

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