TV shows a sadder reality


Australia’s television networks have opened the ratings season with a fusillade of big-budget Reality TV programs. But their most successful genres point to our personal failures.

TBL9Ep1The Seven Network currently leads the charge with the return of My Kitchen Rules, which opened the season with an impressive 1.67 million viewers. The same week Nine’s The Block: Fans Vs. Favs earned a healthy 1.14 million sets of eyes. However the biggest loser was … The Biggest Loser. Ten’s super-sized start to the year couldn’t raise more than 560,000 viewers. What is it about the show that’s turning viewers off?

The new format for the reality weight-loss program – Challenge Australia – draws all of its contestants from the single Victorian township of Ararat. This locale, according to the producers, holds the dubious title of being Australia’s most overweight town. The key difference is that the town is able to contribute to its residents’ success by carrying out large-scale exercises on their behalf. But nine seasons in, are Australians just tired of watching overweight people suffer?

Reality TV has returned to the triumph of decadence. MKR serves up a mixture of gourmet cooking spiced with gossip. The Block promises to show us how barren rooms can be transformed into luxury spaces – so long as budget isn’t a question. But all The Biggest Loser can offer is the distressing results of self-indulgence, a diagnosis that might now come too close to home.

In the face of puritanical restraint, it’s no wonder that viewers are choosing the promise of unrestrained comfort. Christianity often falls at the same post because people falsely believe it’s the end of all enjoyment. How sad, considering Jesus saw trusting in his giving heart to be the beginning of real joy:

“I have come that they might have life, and have it to the full.” [1]