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March 26, 2018 | by  | in Arts TV |
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Obscure New Zealand TV Shows You Wish We Didn’t Tell You About

This week we took a break from our typical high-quality and insightful writing, to instead revisit some of NZ’s most absurd shows of the 21st Century.

Internet Island

This 2001 show featured a group of everyday New Zealanders, and one vaguely foreign Dutchman, living together in a house trying to wrap their heads around, and live purely through, the internet. Keep in mind that in 2001, according nethistory.co.nz, NZ’s online literacy was ranked two places below Burundi. The show set the stage for all sorts of outrageous early 21st century online hijinks — like ordering pizza every night of the week…

Contestants were forced to survive for 3 weeks using only the internet. It’s genius. TVNZ must have had a whip round the office to gather the $21,000 winnings (?) amount up for grabs. Which, adjusted for inflation, is still fuck all. The show was short-lived, but the biggest disappointment was perhaps the lack of the aforementioned island. One contestant’s internet history being uncovered led to an untimely removal from the show, and allegedly the end of his marriage. He was about 7 years short of the advent of Ctrl+Shift+N.  

TVNZ have still not replied to our numerous inquiries about the long-awaited DVD release of the series.

Miss Popularity

2005 seems a little late for a premise this sexist to exist.  

Miss Popularity saw 10 NZ women being tricked into living in the Australian Outback. All had signed up thinking the show was a beauty contest but instead, the 10 women were exiled to the small town of Burra in South Australia where they were forced to befriend the locals. The undeniably sexist reveal was carried out when the girls were ditched by their transport whilst in the middle of an Outback bikini shoot. Every week the girls were nominated for a public vote before the entire township, where they were required to grovel for the townsfolks’ vote to remain.

Would it fly today? Likely not. Would we be able to do a full page spread about it in Salient? Absolutely not.

The Family

Before The Ridges, the Rippin family appeared on NZ screens in 2003. Imagine a bunch of half-pissed, tacky New Zealanders trying to act British, and you have The Family . While a tried and true formula now, spoilt rich arseholes didn’t always make for good or in any way interesting TV.

The patriarch of the family was former property developer Pat Rippin, whose family opened their doors to a camera crew to show average New Zealanders what Rippin it up (much better title) in Auckland really meant. The arguably self-funded series featured a cocktail of drunkenness, half-nude bodies, and just the worst kind of people. You can find some clips of the show on Youtube

It’s a shame a second season, Rippin: Rise and Fall, was never made, following Pat Rippin’s declaration of bankruptcy in 2008 and the conviction and home detention that followed. Perhaps a job for Sunday Theatre.

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