Aussie reality show appals and enthrals - just like X Factor NZ.

She's very good to her mother," my own mother used to say, by way of drawing my attention to the dateless daughters of friends of hers. They were generally homely girls who may have had little recourse but to be nice to their mums.

And, anyway, I offered total resistance. After all, what guy in his right mind would let his mum have any say at all in the girls he might want to date?

But, as it turns out all these years later, there are guys who seem to want that very thing. And they're on television of course. But it's one of those nightmares that was bound to turn up as a TV reality show.

It's an Australian show, naturally, and it landed here last week on TV2 (9.15pm, Friday), not so much with a bounce as a shudder. It's called Please Marry My Boy, which sounds better if you say it with an Australian accent.


Thankfully, the show actually plays a bit better than it sounds.

The first episode introduced four fearsome mums and their four feckless sons, still shamelessly at home in their late 20s and early 30s.

There's a scary boiled-blonde netball coach type mother, an even scarier Serbian mother, a bossy one with tight hair and big glasses and a relatively sweet one called Ann.

The sons are mostly (there's a token geek) too good looking to be true, but then, so are all the eager, made-up faces in the sea of would-be wives. Reality TV can't tolerate a homely face either apparently.

With the mothers not only in charge but in attendance and full of nosy questions, the guys speed date their way though a queue of young women who seem to think that love is something you find on a reality show.

"You can see the hope in their eyes," crooned the presenter, a slightly alarming arrangement of mouth and botox called Ada Nicodemou.

But mostly it was the mothers who were alarming. "How many times have you had sex?" the netball coach mother asked one date.

"More than five and less than 10," the answer came straight back. Some of those dates seemed to think honesty was the best policy - the nice Catholic girl who said she didn't believe in having sex till she was married then mentioned she was a topless waitress.

"It's in the Bible," she said, meaning topless waitressing, I assume.

And so it went, cheesy and amusing in equal amounts. In the end, there were eliminations as the mothers narrowed things down to three prospective daughters-in-law.

In this Friday's episode, the girls move in with the mums and their boys and the testing continues. It's awful but irresistible.

It's a bit like X Factor NZ really, though that show (on TV3, Sundays and Mondays) becomes more resistible as the endless weeks roll by and it relentlessly squeezes all interesting life from the contestants.

After so many episodes and so much repetition, X Factor has taken on a cultish aspect - the worship of the judges, the sacrifice of the talent, the empty adulation.

We might be able to look back on this show one day and wonder what it all meant. Right now, I long for it to be over - as much for the poor singers as for my sanity.

Being forced week after week to climb on board other people's songs when some of them might shine with their own material, is the cruellest thing of all about this show.

The only contestant with a real shiver of originality, singer/songwriter Benny Tipene, was forced, on Sunday night, to sing that sugary horror Can't Take My Eyes Off You.

What further humiliation awaits?