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March 6, 2016 | by  | in TV |
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In Defense of New Zealand Reality Television

Last week Jordan Mauger was announced as the new star of TV3’s The Bachelor; the same week a casting call was put out for applicants of New Zealand’s version of Survivor. 2015 saw the first season of our own version of Come Dine With Me, and it stirred up an unfamiliar feeling deep in my heart—patriotism.

While many loathe reality TV, and view it as vapid and superficial, I see each episode as a unique psychological experiment, an opportunity to see into the minds of people outside your own experiences and ideals. While every American reality show has exaggerated outlandish characters fighting for their 15 minutes of fame, New Zealand’s just a bit too bloody chill and humble for that, and the laid-back Kiwi spirit allows for our truly odd personality quirks to shine.

On last year’s Come Dine With Me one contestant brought a different animal body part of increasing size to each dinner; culminating in her arriving brandishing a decapitated pig head on the last night. Another week one woman had no tables or plates (by choice), and made the group huddle around a small, squat coffee table eating food straight off cork placemats. The first season of The Bachelor saw several women walk off the show; including one who did not think bachelor Art Green was enough of a thrill seeker for her because he didn’t share her fantasy of holidaying in the Middle East, “listening to guns going off around us.” I was ready to hate both these shows, but the idea that these weirdos all live in my country ended up making me feel proud.  

I often take New Zealand for granted and worry we’re all a bit boring, but our low-budget US reality spin-offs truly give me hope. And hopefully you can catch me on Survivor this year because I’ve just sent off my application.


Top Five TV Theme Songs

5. “Supermodels” —Kendall Payne (Popular, 1999)
Popular is a criminally underrated gem, but hopefully you remember it from its 7:30pm Friday night slot on old channel 4. The theme song is fluffy and ridiculous, but contrasts so well with how surreal and bizarre the show was. It’s stupid catchy and a great sing-a-long. Kendall Payne is a pastor now. Huh.

4. “The X-Files” —Mark Snow (The X-Files, 1993)
Completely iconic, super spooky, and in conjunction with the opening credits it perfectly captures the spirit of a 90s GeoCities webpage about conspiracy theories. The X-Files theme really sets a standard and is instantly recognizable. Great to sing after walking into a room and turning the light off.

3. “Buffy Theme” —Nerf Herder (Buffy the Vampire Slayer, 1997)
Buffy was my feminist role model growing up and the theme by Nerf Herder guided me towards pop-punk as a preteen. I never ever skip the credits for Buffy because this song gets me amped up so much and I head bang along to it like a dweeb. You can now find lead singer Parry Gripp on YouTube with such videos as “Chimpanzee Riding on a Segway.”

2. “California” —Phantom Planet (The OC, 2003)
EVERYONE knows this theme song. It represents the whole teen dramedy television genre. It’s overwhelmingly sincere, just like every teenager is before they become adults and die inside. Did you know Jason Schwartzman played the drums in Phantom Planet? CALIFORNIAAAAAAA.

1. “Theme of Law & Order: SVU” —Mike Post (Law & Order: SVU, 1999)
I love this damn theme song. I love it. I sing along to it every episode and it’s an instrumental. Words cannot describe the genius of the SVU theme. It is art. I want it as my phone ring tone and I want my text tone to be the DUN DUN.

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