Tim Walker’s Reality II

Compared with the rest of the world’s nations, fair to say New Zealand is rather small; yet we endeavour to broadcast reality with the best of them.

Regarding land mass we’re quite small, regarding population we’re decidedly small and regarding the ability to think for ourselves, seemingly, we’re downright tiny. Much as I’m sure individual New Zealand citizens would dispute this, as a collective we love nothing more than to throw ourselves onboard that ridiculously fickle fashion-bandwagon and ride the success of an American or, better yet, an Australian initiative.

Given that the world appears to have agreed that the 21st century is the era of reality television, it is not unexpected that New Zealand would wish to also partake in this worldwide pervasion of hackney.

When the US filmed its first season of American Idol I recall being amazed at the depth of talent they had on offer; the Idol bus drove state to state, auditioning thousands of hopefuls at each location and the level of talent we saw, utterly breathtaking. Few years down the track we thought it’d be awesome to give NZ Idol a nudge…


It wasn’t quite as good as we’d all been led to believe it’d be, and I think Ben Lummis would agree. That said, as the runner-up, Michael Murphy did enjoy some fleeting success.

The problem is that we try to replicate the reality shows of other countries while seemingly forgetting that, where the US had over 150 million potentially talented people for its debut season of Idol New Zealand scarcely had over four. Australia had a shot too and, along with their 20 million, it has to be said, they did alright.

It just makes me uneasy to see our meagre population competing with the big guns and failing so abjectly. Granted, while I predicted The Bachelor NZ to be one of our biggest televised abortions to date, there were some who claimed to have genuinely enjoyed it; that said, I think we can all agree that NZ doesn’t Got Talent.

Shows about cooking, shows about gardening; shows about dancing, shows about singing; shows about talent, shows about fashion; shows about renovating, shows about building; shows about finding love, shows about swapping wives…

My God, really?

Curious that New Zealand hasn’t yet felt able to embrace the Big Brother franchise or perhaps done a spinoff or something similar; although I do think a reality show called Little Sister might arouse some inappropriate questioning.

I was suitably disgusted a few months back to see the impending arrival of Come Dine With Me NZ flickering across my television screen so, just as I had done for The Bachelor NZ, made a quick pledge of avoidance. Few weeks later though, while chopping down through the channels I inexplicably hesitated. The memories of that night are lurid: I can still see before me a table seating three expectant guests; two chubby females across from one portly male. I hear the first chubby female speak with classic Kiwi inflexion and elongated vowel sounds: “Oh yeah, I had no idea what an eye fillet even was…”

The portly male interjects: “It’s steak.”

The other chubby woman concludes the exchange with a vacuous giggle and a lot more of that wonderful Kiwi inflexion: “Oh, I thought it was fish.”

Suffice to say I swallowed the bile in my mouth and quickly moved on.

Another evening I saw an advertisement for what, I believe but can’t be certain, was that very same show. This time it was a dapper young gentleman remarking about how, “…Oh, I just feel so, oh … So much like a royal!”

“Regal,” I recall thought/mumbling, “You just feel so regal.”

Honestly, we are not adequately equipped to take on big reality; can we please let go and just focus on our strengths – like developing more sensational, fictional Kiwi television shows such as Westside?



Article by Tim Walker

Edited by Prez Don Singh

Photography by N E Moa

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