It’s now been a quarter century since Australia’s first-ever reality show, Sylvania Waters – the controversial series that forever changed the lives of Sydney’s unsuspecting Baker-Donaher family.
Signing on to what they believed would be a gentle and nuanced BBC documentary about the lives of ordinary Australians, the blended family were filmed extensively over five months, covering all aspects of their lives.
What they got instead were leading off-camera questions from producers seemingly aimed at encouraging drama, and brutally unsympathetic editing that showed up their very worst traits.
Family matriarch Noelene claimed the endless screaming matches that defined the show were in fact just two brief tiffs that were carefully spliced, so they could be strung out over the whole season.
The family were left shell shocked and devastated by the finished show, and the scathing public response that saw them become national hate figures.
They had been naïve. But how could they have known any better, since reality TV had yet to take over the world?
Twenty-five years later, none of the stars of Channel Nine’s increasingly ridiculous Married At First Sight can claim the same excuse now that their own indiscretions have been raked over and magnified for the entertainment of viewers.
Contestant Dean this week broke ranks, angrily lashing out at producers, claiming he was 'forced' to make a series of gross and scandalous comments at a booze-soaked boys’ night, culminating in his delightful question to the group, 'Why doesn't anybody want to bang Tracey?'
Talking to the camera, Dean announced, 'Whatever happens at boys’ night, stays at boys’ night.'
Wrong. And after 25 years he had no good reason for thinking so.
Free-flowing booze and a seemingly friendly relationship with the production crew have never saved anyone from the consequences of signing on to reality TV.
Dean made a deal with the devil and he’s now facing the consequences.
But the cast aren’t the only ones who are feeling pangs of regret over the show. Many viewers are also voicing their feelings that they’ve been led astray.
Old footage has now surfaced from yet another reality show, Pawn Stars Australia, showing Nasser talking about having a wife and kids. He is shown trying to sell a toy car collection to pay for his ‘kid's education’.
When he fails to get the money he was apparently expecting, Nasser says, ‘My wife's going to kill me’.
On MAFS he claimed that living with his TV wife Gabrielle was the first time he has ever lived with a woman.
So, which version of Nasser’s ‘reality’ is closer to the truth?
Australians love reality TV, but after all this time we should all know exactly what to expect, especially if you are going to be on it. Enough of the complaints – if you sign up for this stuff in 2018, you just have to accept the consequences.