NZ reality shows: 'We should be appalled'

Jaime and Sally Ridge have filmed the pilot episode for a reality show on TV3. Photo / Norrie Montgomery
Jaime and Sally Ridge have filmed the pilot episode for a reality show on TV3. Photo / Norrie Montgomery

A women's TV watchdog has condemned the portrayal of women in two TV3 reality shows: The GC, and a proposed series starring socialite Sally Ridge and her daughter.

The GC, about a group of New Zealand Maori based on Australia's Gold Coast, began last Wednesday and featured scantily-clad women, a housewarming party and the star's discussing their "publics" (pubic hair).

It was the most-watched show on TV3 that day with more than 300,000 viewers, and was discussed so much online it began trending on Twitter.

Only a pilot episode for a show starring Ridge and her 18-year-old daughter Jaime has been shot, with TV3 yet to decide if it will commission a full length series.

But Women in Film and Television (Wift) executive director Susi Newborn said both shows exploited women and sent the wrong message to viewers.

"We should be appalled at how often the cameras and commentators focus on these celebrities, instead of the many other successful women who have actually contributed something to society," Newborn wrote on the organisation's website.

"Why are we rewarding reality TV's exploitation of women's bodies? Are looks, for women, more important than their brains or their talents?

"Is hyper-sexualisation and self-objectification now a legitimate path to success in New Zealand as it is in America?"

Newborn also hit out over the funding row surrounding The GC after NZ on Air granted nearly $420,000 toward the making of the show.

"When our top representatives in the screen industry state that they believe The GC ... is a 'modern form of documentary' or a 'programme that has engaged the nation' we should be really concerned about the future for our industry."

TV3 declined to respond to Newborn's comments, but Sally Ridge recently told New Idea she was doing the show because she no longer cared what people thought of her, and her relationship with her daughter.

"The public criticism of our relationship does irk. I used to get hurt by the flak, especially if I felt my kids were picked on.

"But I'm at the point in my life where I don't care anymore what people think about me because I'm content with my life and who I am."

When the idea came up for a TV show, Ridge said it didn't take long for her and Jaime to agree to be filmed.

"Jaime and I talked about it, and we agreed to consider it. We thought, 'Why not?'" she said.

"I remember when I first filmed for TV One I was so nervous, but with Jaime it's like the camera is not even there. She's not nervous at all."

The second episode of The GC screens tonight at 8pm.

On its website, Wift says it "promotes and safeguard the interests of women in film and television" and "recognises women's achievements in the industry".

- Herald online

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