The premise of the show is possibly the most contrived of all the reality shows on TV. It has all the fakeness, fluff and over the top stereotyped gender roles to give it express entry into the trash pile of failed Aussie reality misses.
But somehow, instead of floundering, it flourishes.
|SURPRISE! People watch!|
Channel 7 has stumbled upon a winning formula which sees people who would normally prefer to throw their TV out the window than watch this kind of show, switching on in droves. And no one finds this more surprising than the fans themselves. Twitter and Facebook are awash with posts from perplexed fans who can't understand why they are hooked, but are happy to share their guilty pleasure with the world.
Maybe it's the so-bad-its-good factor, maybe it's the chance to laugh at the social graces of nerds and bimbos. Of course, there's the ever reliable audience of teenage boys hoping to catch a glimpse of some forbidden flesh of the beauties that made it past the editing table. But the rest of the audience? Who knows?
BATG is billed as the ultimate social experiment, but the outcomes are as predicable as clockwork, and it is anything but an experiment. The thinly veiled disguise that BATG is a self improvement show about Geeks coming out of their shells, or Beauties learning to be real people doesn't fool anyone. No doubt its an easier sell to the network execs who still believe they haven't stooped to the depths of The Shire or Big Brother to entice viewers and advertisers. But the rest of us know that this show has about as much to do with genuine human growth and as a company outsourcing their call center to a robot in India… but Channel 7 are happy with that, and evidently, so are the fans.
Its clear that BATG is to reality what a Bangkok market is to Louis Vuitton – a genuine fake. More time was probably spent on cultivating the Geeks' bad hair and Revenge of the Nerds dress style to get them ready for the show than it was to cast them in the first place. We know the Beauties are hamming it up for their next FHM photo shoot, and we know that the Geeks are probably hipsters who were previously extras on Neighbours. No one watches BATG thinking the outcomes will stick or any of the characters are real. And its not sold that way by Channel 7. The same can't be said for other reality love-match shows which actually claim to be more. The Farmer Wants a Wife claims to be about people falling in love on the farm, where it's really about city chicks looking to get their head on TV to start their modelling careers, and farmers who are just up for a quick shag.
Probably one of the best episodes of BATG is the Geek makeover. Once the pony tails and glasses are removed, a surprising number of Geeks amazingly have ready-made six packs, good looks, and a curious confidence that was never there before. Just in time to make them attractive to the Beauties for some fireworks in the final half of the series! Hmmm… Just like watching a B grade action movie where the aim of the game is to see the guy inside the mechanical dinosaur, the makeover show is all about seeing which Geeks are really geeks, and which are ring-ins from a casting agency.
|Does this beard make a more believable Geek?|
Another win for BATG is that Channel 7 has managed to resist screening it every night, a lesson they could have used over Australia's Got Talent, which died a painful but relieving death of over saturation. Maybe Channel 10 should take this lesson on as well; their textbook killing-by-saturation of the once funny Modern Family is a joke in itself. At last count it was on 8 nights a week. Maybe the low profile time-slot and advertising for BATG is also something that makes people less judgmental about people who watch it. There is no unavoidable bombardment advertising like there was for The Shire and Bingle, which, even if you were a closet fan, there's no way you'd share it with your besties on Facebook.
Whatever it is, Beauty and the Geek has the looks and the smarts. Lets just hope Channel 7 doesn't try to do a make over…
Who knows, sometimes the tackiest, most over the top and fantastically plastic things can become classics…