did it with McDonald's.
dude did it with sugar, so surely I could watch just one night of wall-to-wall reality TV and live to tell the tale?
At the outset I weighed in at 82 kiloggrams, my blood pressure was 115 over 75 and I was centre-left in the political spectrum. I turned on TV3 at 7pm last Monday to begin my experiment.
TV3 at 7pm used to be all about CLNZ or Campbell Live. For the next two months at least it will be CDWMNZ or Come Dine With Me New Zealand. Better late than never I thought. A local version of this UK classic should have been made yonks ago, in the pre MKR era. Yes the format is a little creaky all these years later but I am still a sucker for it.
On episode one we are going around to Monika's place. She's a Slovakian child-minder who doesn't like red meat. "Mystical Monika" they dub her.
There's also 50-something Tony (flirty old man), 21-year-old Hinemoa, (who has never heard of exotic terms like "eye fillet"), a humourless Englishman, and best of all, a crazy woman of Asian descent who has a fantastically broad kiwi accent.
In short, they're a great bunch of freaks. Early on I fear I will be worn down by narrator Guy Williams, as he serves an endless smorgasbord of insane sarcastic prattle. "We gave up Campbell Live for this", I hear you cry. "Williams should be taken out and shot", said a few mad people on Twitter.
I suspect that beneath it all CDWMNZ is about death. Is that not what drives the contestants? "Why not?" they think, as they sign up for CDWMNZ, "we're going to die anyway?" And a life not lived at least a little bit on TV, well, what sort of life is that?
I think much the same as I watch. Why not enjoy this tried and true format. Five people, five nights, it's as if it was dreamed up just to fit the TV schedule. I wonder what's on 7 Sharp, but no, I am on a mission. Did Spurlock cheat with a night on the fried rice?
is calculated, corporate bullying. Mean but not too mean, and just racist, sexist and stupid enough so that it qualifies as good old-fashioned mindless fun. It's dumbing down, done cleverly.
It's not long before we hear the magical words of food show lore: "The chicken was a bit dry". The food looks terrible, but CDWMNZ is not really about the food is it? A quick reference to the UK version via YouTube reveals a few things: Better lighting. Way better interior design. Let's be honest, better people.
We are a motley bunch us kiwis, aren't we? But above all there is that familiar insane sarcastic prattle dished out in the original by Dave Lamb. There even exists a Facebook page called WE LOVE THE SARCASTIC GUY WHO NARRATES COME DINE WITH ME. Hundreds of thousands have liked it.
This reminded me that this show would be nothing without the insane sarcastic prattle. I call my cousin and cancel the hit I had ordered on Williams, which is just as well as he was on his way to Sydney to throttle Guy Sebastian.
7.30pm. I think I quite like The Embassy, a glossy reality show based around The Australian Embassy in Thailand. The narrator says that "Thailand is beautiful and mysterious" which somehow sounds like, "beware Asian devils". Bumbling Aussie tourists get robbed and tricked by scammers. They turn to the Embassy for help. It's a slick production, mixing facts with friction. "An Australian in Thailand goes missing every two days" is followed by a wild goose chase that begins with the words: "A High profile Aussie has disappeared." The story of the missing millionaire raises more questions than it answers but he is soon tracked down, with the help of Facebook.
The exotic location is largely stripped of tourist gloss making it somehow more cinematic. It helps too that the tourists have shot important footage themselves. There's iPhone footage of a Tuk Tuk just prior to a robbery and a couple "scammed" for damaging a jet ski have filmed the altercation on a GoPro camera. No one likes an Aussie on a jet ski so that bit seemed like karma. Good show, but a quick look at the scales and I've put on 3kg.
8pm. Dancing with the Stars is next. It's the "results" show.
Perhaps it was the words promising, "An encore dance from one of our star couples" which makes me feel depressed. But nothing makes me sadder than the sound of the audience clapping along to the music. It's even sadder when they peter out half way through, after falling out of sync.
Shane "The Mountain Man" Cameron and dancer Nerida make an impressive sight on the dance floor. Thanks to Nerida's hair all I saw was King Kong dancing with a troll doll. I could not look away. Candy was having "hot flushes all over the place". The leaderboard, revealed Teulia Blakely (Shorty Street) on top and Pam Corkery ("Puffed up little shit") at the bottom. Jay-Jay (The Edge) stole the show the previous night by falling, a trick learned from Rodney Hide back in the day. If you don't fall on DWTSNZ then you are not doing it right.
Some Cuban dancers come on and dance to some more out of time clapping, which peters out. I feel empty. Colin Mathura-Jeffree's cornrows get him sent home. He needed to "spend more time on rehearsal and less time on your hair". My blood pressure hits 140 over 90. I too was having hot flushes.
8.30pm. Married at First Sight is yet another franchise, this being the Australian version, so it should really be known as MAFSOZ. "Eight Aussie singles are set to tie the knot." The 'catch' is that they'll meet for the very first time on their wedding day. "Three of Australia's leading relationship experts are leading this radical experiment." I'm guessing they might fall down the "leading relationship experts" leaderboard by the end of this.
"At least they did a criminal check, so that's a good start" says one woman who has obviously had trouble in the past.
Clare 37 wants a partner and kids. Lachlan 36 is a farmer. He has a dog and 300 odd head of cattle. Etcetera. The experts assemble to begin the animal husbandry. "What next?" I wondered as I watched to the end. Series link? Nearly.
9.30pm. By the time I got to Reality Trip I felt like I was tripping. But this show turned out to be the best of all. It was more like a documentary dressed up as a reality show and could well be one of those rare productions that threaten to give "Reality TV" a good name. Five pampered young kiwis are taken to the third world sweatshops where all the gadgets and fashions they consume are made. They are made to work (sort of) like Filipino factory workers and share their living conditions. Like CDWMNZ, the casting is all-important, and the producers have chosen well. These pretty, pampered and engaging young kiwis seem to be in for a dose of reality in the weeks ahead. I hope they don't cry ;)
At the end of the night my blood pressure had settled but I had put on 8 kgs. I had a twitch in my left eye, but that may have been there already. I checked my privilege, yep still intact. Political leaning? Strangely I'm feeling a bit blue-green as opposed to my normal centre-left, which is a bit of a worry. But apart from that, and a strange stain on my sofa, I think I have learned a valuable lesson.
Find out what that lesson is next week as COME DIE WITH ME continues.