I have a question for New Zealanders aged between 25 and 54. Why did so many of you watch The Block NZ this year?
No, really — why? Why, when it consisted of approximately 5000 episodes of petty squabbling, design clangers and endless filler, capped with the most depressing live auction ever ?
I ask, because The Block NZ still frequently won its timeslot in Three's targeted 25-54 demographic this season. The show's streaming numbers were the highest they've ever been. It all beggars belief, given you could sum up this year's show with one word: shambolic.
From the moment the four new teams excitedly picked up their tools in week one, to Sunday night's awkward auction finale, The Block NZ has been a debacle — and not just because three of those teams walked away with nothing to show for their months of hard labour.
For a start, this year's competition has been incredibly bitter. While big personalities have often clashed on The Block site, no season has been quite as bad-tempered as this one.
When Turangi couple Sophia and Mikaere decided to convert their three-bedroom penthouse into a swanky two-beddy, it set off a petty chain of events that three of the teams were still squabbling over in the final week.
As Sam of The BoyzTM fame got caught up in an outcry over Sophia and Mikaere's guest bed being put into storage last week, he summed up the nation's thoughts on the situation: "I couldn't care less."
Then there was the all-important interior design element of the show. You know, those little snippets of work we actually get to see in among the show's inane challenges. Unlike last season, where eventual winners Amy and Stu turned out one beautiful room after the next, the class of 2019 often struggled.
Who can forget bathroom week, where most of the teams presented a mood board of what their bathroom would look like? Or the hot mess that was Ethan and Sam's kid's bedroom?
Givealittle page set up for The Block's Team Orange
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Having largely given up on watching The Block NZ several weeks ago, I checked in last week to get a series refresher ahead of auction night and found the level of design hadn't really improved with time. The teams were still receiving scores of 2 out of 10, while the boys were still failing to check the paint they were using was the right one.
And not even the live auction could save this season.
The teams all showed up to Sunday's finale dressed in black and in some ways it was like being at a funeral, given we watched their hopes and dreams die on national television. After Three shoved a record number of ad breaks into its auction build-up, things started promisingly, with Wellington couple Lisa and Ribz bagging a $50,000 profit for their apartment.
But the other teams made nary a bean, and there's really no fun in watching contestants trying to hold back tears or paste on strained smiles for the cameras. There's also no fun in watching auctioneers pleading with a room full of people to bid against themselves just to make an apartment's reserve.
It was an excruciating end to an average season — and apparently the perfect time for Three to announce they're looking for their next lot of Block NZ hopefuls.
Should the producers still manage to rustle up some contestants after Sunday night's auction bloodletting, I have a few suggestions for The Block NZ 2020: Maybe choose a few more contestants with a modicum of interior design experience. Find some judges who are at least consistent in their critiques. Cut down the sheer volume of episodes (which should be easy if they get rid of the pointless Dinner Wars, the cringe-worthy Block Stars and the recaps of recaps).
And, even though it's much too late for this suggestion, why don't we look further afield than the ridiculous Auckland housing market and find a city with a high-sale-price-to-rating-valuation-ratio for contestants to work in? The Block NZ: Whanganui, anyone? I don't imagine MediaWorks will take any of those suggestions on board. Why should it when this wretched season still regularly won its timeslot?
Let's just hope that if next year's teams start fighting over a guest bed in a storage unit or creating kids' rooms full of booby traps, the nation's 25-54-year-olds finally discover where their TV remotes are.