Don't Play Channel Seven has two new programs: That show didn't work out for the contestant, obviously, but it drew big ratings for Nine and will return this year. Ten has The Bachelor and The Bachelorette, both huge hits in All up, our free and pay-TV channels will screen at least 19 shows about relationships in Bachelorette Sam Frost with series winner Sasha Mielczarek.
Advertisement For this, you can thank The Bachelor: Just as The Block and MasterChef spawned a wave of imitators, Ten's lucrative franchise has renewed its rivals' interest in love. Some viewers are sick of reality, he acknowledges, but the "ratings bubble" is yet to burst.
Instead, audiences are being spread more thinly over a glut of newer shows, which is why they don't rate as highly as they used to. Dating programs hold promise: Married at First Sight averaged 1. Even lower-rating series "punch above their weight", according to Allen, because of who they attract: Above all, we want to be entertained. Channel Ten We might scoff at rude or selfish contestants, says Relationship Australia's Bill Hewlett, but in doing so, we're refining our own social norms.
All of which is fine if generosity is valorised, say, or bigotry is condemned. But our expectations can be skewed by a focus on the "happily ever after" myth, or a belief your life will fall into place with the "right" partner. For most of us, the drama peaks years down the track, when the infatuation has inevitably faded. There is "enormous value", Hewlett believes, in programs that probe long-term relationships, such as ABC's documentary series Making Couples Happy.
Most shows, however, have a critical flaw. When contestants feel angry or unhappy, they tend to look around — at their job, appearance, and especially their partner — and conclude these things are to blame. It makes for compelling viewing, but it's not especially illuminating.
We're all predestined to have a particular view of life, and ourselves, based on our childhood experiences. Still, if it can address this societal blind spot, in some small way, Hewlett considers this useful. Not least because we find these shows so enthralling. It's as if we're there, like we're experiencing it ourselves.