6 April 2021 (art and entertainment article)
What makes a reality TV star? Like the results of a season finale when you’ve signed a watertight station contract, it’s hard to express. It’s not about looks, skills, or even likeability. Fifteen-plus years of reality TV consumption has taught me that the real criteria includes an inimitable style (sartorial or in attitude), the ability to bring the dramz’, and most importantly, catchphrases.
Let’s take a look back at a sample of our nation’s reality TV royalty to judge whether history has been kind to them. Who will be crowned, and who should be drowned?
Gretel Killeen, Big Brother
Gretel Killeen (or should we say Gretel Kill-queen?) had one of the toughest jobs on Australian television during her time as host of Big Brother – trying to produce coherent interviews with overly stimulated and hair gelled (it was the 2000s) contestants live on stage.
She handled it with aplomb; even the infamous Merlin “Free th[e] refugees” silent protest. She wasn’t afraid to bring out her stern mum voice when the housemates were misbehaving, but they loved her anyway – particularly 21 year old ex contestant Saxon whom she subsequently dated for a hot minute. Absolute queen. Crown her.
Sonia Kruger, Big Brother
Sonia had an outstanding lob and a perfectly curated wardrobe, but she simply wasn’t up for the job of controlling Australia’s biggest frat house in front of a live audience (not many are). Plus, she’s a massive racist. Drown her.
Canadian Daniel, Bachelor in Paradise
Sometimes I experience the melancholy thought that the life I should be living is happening somewhere else. At least, it’s how I feel about the Bachelor franchise. Snippets I’ve observed of the US and Canadian versions make our series seem almost vanilla, and not just with the contestants’ ethnicities. Canadian Daniel embodies this, bringing the dramz’, outrage, and a not insignificant amount of sleaze. (It should be noted at this point that I know nothing of Canadian Daniel’s history on his home franchise, but I’m going to assume it involve some ickiness towards women and award him a pre-emptive drowning. Sorry, Dan.)
Proving he always understands the assignment, Canadian Daniel was on the BIP island for about five minutes before engaging in steamy hot tub action that broke up a long-term couple, and inviting another woman to “Suck my Canadian bacon.” It doesn’t make a lot of sense, but as a catchphrase it’s pretty good.
Daniel went on to sledge his Australian foray, claiming our franchise is “boring”, and that there was only one entertaining person on the island. Which brings us to…
Keira, The Bachelor and Bachelor in Paradise
As far as reality TV players go, Keira Maguire really has it all.
She’s got the sass, she’s got the body, she’s got the huge (but tastefully done) lips. Her relationships are fiery and short lived with the exception of her legitimately sweet romance with BIP’s Jarrod Woodgate, best known for his easily sunburnt alabaster skin (relatable) and his affinity for gardening.
Keira returned to Fiji single last year and was, in all honesty, downright cruel to many of the other contestants who had done her little wrong. Extra points.
Crown her, peasants.
Mark Holden, Australian Idol
Mark Holden is a man of many masks, including a literal clown mask he wore during a performance on Dancing with the Stars that was immediately dubbed “disturbing.” Disturbing is not a quality I had considered in my judging criteria – but it’s not a no from me!
Speaking of judging, in another drastic career change Mark is actually now a practicing barrister. Props to him, but his energy is a little too unsettling to crown. Condolences Mark, we’ll always get a thrill when we hear the call “Touchdown!”
Jessika Power, Married at First Sight
For me, Jessika is MAFS. Think of the similarities.
Intriguing – that misplaced k in the spelling of her name.
Entertaining – I honestly suppress a masochistic smile every time I remember Jessika trapping her long suffering ‘husband’ Mick on the experiment for yet another week to enable her affair on national TV.
Raw – Jessika and Dan (party to the affair) broke up on live TV. Live TV! They didn’t even break up on their own show!
A headfuck – Jessika is one of the few people who can lie straight-faced, repeatedly, while concrete evidence to the contrary is presented in front of them. The only other person I’ve seen do it so well is Donald Trump.
Having said that, at the MAFS Reunion Special Jessika was perfectly civilised and didn’t throw one glass of wine. You’ve changed, Jessika (sic).
Sophie Monk, The Bachelorette
The Bachelorette has certainly had its moments – Ivan trying to blend a whole avocado, anyone? – but it hasn’t exactly set the country alight. Even the relationships formed (with the exception of Georgia Love and Lee Elliot) have seen a lackluster success rate; something even a dull season of the Bachelor usually guarantees.
Sophie Monk was sadly not one to break this track record – there were rumours that she and the ’winner’ Stu were never really together in the first place. But by God was she entertaining. From crying and backing out of the extreme height date ‘she’d’ organised, to leading a sweet man who had no chance with her into a pot-plant-induced paranoia, Sophie was a bloody good sport. And after being served a line-up of twenty-seven year old influencers (Sophie was thirty nine at the time), I would’ve dialed in a millionaire on a helicopter too.
Old racist lady, Big Brother
Does anyone remember a phase in the late 2010s when Channel 10 decided to ‘shake up’ Big Brother by casting housemates from diverse backgrounds – including a grandmother who proudly supported Pauline Hanson?
Firstly, the format was perfection as it was! Keep giving us the barely distinguishable hotties.
Secondly, no, we don’t want to see that shit given a platform! And if we did we’d watch Sky News.
Nasser, Married at First Sight
Australian TV has never seen a personality quite like Nasser – and let’s hope we don’t see another for quite some time. Kidding! I know you’re reading this Nasser.
Good luck with your campaign to become the next Bachelor (you were robbed) and never stop trying for that blue tick.
Anna, Big Brother (coiner of the phrase “Game on molls”)
It would be remiss of me not to acknowledge the creator of Australia’s most iconic catchphrase and helpful motivational mantra (try it), Anna. Unfortunately, I can’t remember a thing about her. Not a thing!
Give her a crown anyway!
Girls Locker Room Talk: art, articles and entertainment for women (and everyone else)