“Why is TV showing us this?”

In his annual special on the past 12 months, Mitch McTaggart finds TV will try to justify anything as content.

Mitch McTaggart, who most recently put Australian television history in his crosshairs for The Back Side of Television, is about to skewer 2021 in his annual special The Last Year of Television.

All bets are off as he passes judgement on 12 months of fever-pitched content in a relentless drive for viewers.

“The thing that I’m getting more and more aware of within Aussie TV is the apparent mantra that ‘Anything is content,'” he tells TV Tonight.

“And I mean anything – Denise Drysdale badly injuring herself during Holey Moley, and so that became part of the show. Toni Pearen got attacked by snakes on I’m A Celeb, super distressing, and that was left in the show.

A Current Affair did a story about a neo-Nazi, who later stormed the Channel 9 building and allegedly punched a security guard. Naturally ACA got the neo-Nazi on for an interview the next night, AND broadcast the footage. It’s just examples of ‘Why is TV showing us this?’

“30 years ago I feel like none of those would have been broadcast (and the ACA bit sounds like far-fetched satire from Frontline), and so there seems to be this creeping vibe to keep audiences watching using any tactic available.

“And out of that, another piece of false logic could be  ‘Watchable TV is the same as divisive TV’, and so there’s been less aiming to make high quality television and more of an angle to show a straight up car crash. Specifically, the Craig McLachlan Spotlight special on 7. We go into a lot more detail about it on our show, because it absolutely should be picked apart for being the most baffling piece of content this year.

“Anyway, it’s all in The Last Year of Television! Plus there’s jokes in it, we promise….”

The Last Year of Television airs 8:30pm Saturday on SBS VICELAND.

7 Responses

  1. The content was great, but as I watched a person sitting in bed wearing a silk nightie ( sorta guessing here) I did ask myself, ” Why is TV showing us this”

  2. This was great, much as Mitch’s last few appearances on SBS were. And I hope we get to see more this year. A semi-regular series perhaps? I’m sure there’d be enough WTFery on Australian television in the future to sustain a short series and/or specials with Mitch & team, without spreading themselves too thin.

  3. FTA TV is facing declining revenue as advertising and shopping move online and viewers have alternatives. So it’s obvious why TV is chasing cheap content that people will watch. And its the same stuff as clickbait on the internet, newspapers and talkback radio, but marginally better than the agirprop on social media. Nobody has to watch it. I don’t. I’ve been watching cricket, The Larkins, Young Sheldon, Evil and Seal Team. Now that they have finished I’ll resume streaming Fringe. The question is with so many alternatives why do so many people still watch, read or listen to this stuff when there are alternatives? As real participation in community declines, people seek shared experiences in the media and social media, who are happy to exploit this for clicks.

  4. This necessary interrogation of what FTA TV has become will be one of the year’s most relevant shows. Why? Hmmm. Let’s watch a bunch of strangers get married. Or cook food. Or renovate old houses. Or audition for talent quests they’re wholly unqualified for. Or a bunch of so-called celebrities cooped up together in a fake house. Or slumming it in a jungle. Let’s watch a bunch of self-absorbed tragics chase 5mins of fame / love. Or annoying caricatures watching TV. Or a load of melodrama dressed up as current affairs. And let’s get totally caught up in all the confected drama and pre-determined outcomes of this over-produced rubbish. If the alternative is FTA’s endless cycle of news and reality dross, plus its meagre sprinkling of the odd game show, occasional sports behemoths, imported dramas and multi-channels of wall-to-wall repeats, is it any wonder that so many people have turned to streaming platforms that offer so much content that’s unique, high quality and actually creative?

    1. A few years ago i would’ve agreed with you there, but i think they feed off each other & maybe always have Better offerings from streaming without ad breaks cycles into commercial FTA networks having less $ to invest into quality drama.

      But also love them or hate them, reality shows still rate pretty well all things considered. Apart from sports, FTA will rarely ever get the ratings numbers of yesteryear, because there are so many other choices, and so it cycles over again. At least we still get decent drama from the ABC. And both they and SBS have some fantastic documentary & news programming.

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