The B**ch Factor

Confession time: I’m quite addicted to cooking shows on TV, including those of the reality genre.  A couple of nights ago I watched the first episode of My Kitchen Rules and have watched at least part of the subsequent episodes.  During episode two I realised I had quite an intense dislike for one of the two young all-female teams.  They were b**chy, know-alls and I was hoping for their demise as soon as possible.  At this same time I was texting with my gorgeous sister, saying much the same thing.  Her last text really got me thinking.  She wrote “…but there’s always one team like that.  They think it adds drama.  I think the stress of the competition is drama enough.”  She’s right, it’s been cut that way so that we see only a certain view of these two all-female teams (and the other teams as well for that matter), they are pitted against one another for purely entertainment and ratings value.  Who knows what these two pairs are like in real life, but what we see on screen is girls against girls in a b**tchy, back-stabbing war of attrition.  And then we wonder why girls are so mean and nasty to each other in the playground and online!

You rarely see this kind of portrayal of male contestants on reality (cooking) shows and if you do they’re inevitably gay.  The girl against girl thing is pushed hard, both in the advertising and in the episodes themselves.  In fact in Tuesday night’s show the other contestants barely got a look in, except the pair actually cooking that night.  The constancy of this competition with a competition (ie ‘there’s not room for two all girl teams in this competition’) was exhausting and I can’t help but wonder about the effect of this on young girls watching this kind of television.  If this is how they see young females behaving towards one another (whether that is in fact what really happened or not is sadly irrelevant) can we expect any different from them in their own relationships with other young females.

To be fair I am not a fan of most reality TV show, with the exception of the Amazing Race which often has similar portrayals of all-female teams, so I don’t know whether this is common practice.  Though a quick internet search on the topic would suggest the ‘catfight’ is a prime rating hit in all sorts of shows.  I’m also not laying blame on reality TV on the behaviour I’ve seen in my own daughter and her friends, they don’t watch it and let’s be real they’re behaviour is nothing like this.  But what does it mean as she and her peers get older and do start seeing this as the norm?  Why can’t shows use, as my sister said, the stress of the competition as drama enough, without resorting to pitting girls against girls?  Why is there a suggestion that two all-female teams couldn’t make the competition more worthy rather than less?  What a sad indictment on our society if this is the only reason these shows are popular… I just like the cooking.

Thoughts?  Have I, once again, been over-thinking what is supposed to be light entertainment?  Does this kind television really have any wider impact?

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12 Responses to The B**ch Factor

  1. narf77 says:

    You are what you eat and we are all what we put into ourselves…society is formed by the media these days. How many young people seem like hyphenated Aussie-Americans with “Like” and “totally” injected into every sentence whether they watch crap tv or not…the media rules society and if we intend to keep up with it, we have to be willing to pay…either through the hip pocket or by deviating from the norm and feeling outcaste. I don’t watch reality tv. I don’t even listen to the adverts. I choose to immerse my brain in things that feed it rather than make it less than it already is. I do like the odd episode of U.K. masterchef but alas, it too has fallen prey to the “bitch” syndrome and it would seem that ratings and not good quality content are de rigeur these days. Best not watch tv at all methinks as that will keep my blood pressure low, Steve’s uber twitchy remote finger firmly on the buttons where he likes them and me, not resulting in being committed to the nearest mental assylum for yelling at the television. A win-win situation for everyone (oh… and Bezial won’t need therapy any more 😉 )

    • Barbara Good says:

      Very wise Narf, I too should turn my attention to more mind-expanding pursuits than reality cooking shows. What can I say, it’s my weakness, but given my distaste for this current batch perhaps I too will turn off soon. As for not watching TV at all I’m not with you there. I think there are some really fabulous shows on, mostly I get on DVD so I can watch in my own time and without ads (though generally they would be shown on the ABC or SBS anyway). My current favourite is Borgan, a Danish political series. And I’m very excited about The Broken Shore based on the Peter Temple book which was brilliant.

      • narf77 says:

        Steve has his finger permanently welded to the remote button so the telly that we get here tends to be tripe. If I could watch ABC and SBS to my hearts content I would have a completely different view of “television” but alas, the television that is represented in the narf7 household is utter tripe ;). I know that there are wonderful television programs out there, its just I am not going to be watching them any day soon (simply not worth the effort 😉 ) kudos to you on being able to prize your partners rigid finger from the channel changing button… simply not worth the agro to me 😉

      • Barbara Good says:

        Aha, makes perfect sense, I would feel the same way if Mr Good was like that. Thankfully after well over a decade I’ve brought him to the light that is the ABC and SBS (except for Big Bang Theory, he loves that). Mind you think of how much reading I could get done if TV was really off limits for me, always a silver lining!

  2. A says:

    This drive me nuts, but I think it’s old old old, as in well before this kind of show. When did television *not * pit women against each other? Unless the characters fit a certain type – mother,Madonna, sisterly type, etc in a safe relationship with me – all women are supposed to be a threat to my hopes and plans. Guys don’t get the same treatment because they’re ‘regular people’ and women are unusual. I mean, who knows what sort of stuff ago down when the womens emote! Sorry, I’m it being very articulate… Proactive link coming, I promise.

    • Barbara Good says:

      Maybe you’re right, but to be honest I didn’t feel that way at all until these reality TV shows. Maybe I just wasn’t looking for that kind of thing until recently. Perhaps it’s just abit more in your face in these shows?

      • rcra says:

        Yah, it is since is so contrived in these. But I feel like it was a recurring theme in lots of teen/tween stories of our past. The whole ‘Mean Girls’ story. I think it encourages a special tall poppy syndrome amongst girls and I find it frustrating and limiting. Maybe I noticed it more coz of the way girls behaved at my school… ?

  3. Sue says:

    I watched the last series and found it went for about 8 weeks too long! I’m not going to get tempted this time, I don’t get the whole bitchy thing with females and generally walk away from it all whether it be online or in real life, life is too short however, they screen on tv for these people it’s all about the ratings.

    • Barbara Good says:

      I have vague memories of the last season dragging on, because they did that silly best of the worst instant restaurant round and then the second chance thing right at the end. That’s been scrapped this time so I think you were not alone in your thoughts. Probably wise not to get sucked in this season.

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