I don’t know who coined the term “hate therapy,” but it works for me as a way of understanding the waves of ridiculous TV that wash over the streaming services each summer. Watching certain reality TV with unabiding hate is good for you. That’s the gist.
For some people camping in the woods is good summer therapy. For others it’s pottering around the garden. For still others it’s sitting on the patio at home drinking rosé until footless tipsy. This is safer than doing it at a bar because, in my neck of the woods anyway, being in a bar means there is, inevitably, the tricky trip down a set of rickety stairs to get to the bathroom.
But there are people who spend time hate-watching shallow, desperate, dimwitted people on TV, and enjoying the sheer venom. There are lessons to be learned in this arena. What noxious calculations are being made to make the viewer livid with therapeutic hate? What is defined as mindless escapism these days? Why are twentysomethings presented as the spawn of Satan?
Snowflake Mountain (streams Netflix) is so brazen it takes your breath away. It is, heaven help us, Netflix’s reality-TV incursion into the culture wars. It’s an attack on young adults and their alleged laziness, loose morals and hare-brained principles. The upshot is offered right at the beginning: “There’s a heap of young adults who can’t even unload a dishwasher, let alone hold down a job.”
The producers, who should be up on charges for gross manipulations, gather 10 “snowflakes” who believe they’re going to a five-star resort to star in a glamorous reality show. Instead, they are dumped on a mountain and told to fend for themselves. They’re told this by two rude and crude guys who used to be in the military, or something. Oh yeah, some of these young people are annoying. There’s Solomon, who knows he’s good-looking and says, “Your mom probably wants to have sex with me.” Some of them live at home with parents whose eyes are jaded from rolling in exasperation.
You are meant to hate these Gen Z types in the way that Fox News hosts hate them. As a concept this is an outright fail. The young people seen here are just out of their element and, having grown up on reality TV, are not ignorant about surviving the ordeal. In this instance, hate the show, not the contestants, and what we learn is that just when you think Netflix won’t go lower, it certainly will.
Byron Baes (streams Netflix) came along recently, presented as Netflix’s “first Australian reality show.” Well, we don’t know what Australia ever did to Netflix, but Australia doesn’t deserve this.
We are taken to the lovely location, once home to hippies and surfers, now home to a cabal of young people who describe themselves as entrepreneurs, designers or influencers. They also believe they are do-gooders, spouting cant about eco-this and eco-that until you want to scream. They’ve all been duped into believing in their own importance. They meet up constantly for a party, bicker and feud, and are mean to outsiders. The women are presented as particularly shallow and easily distracted by some handsome lug who strolls off the beach and into a café where everything is eco-this or eco-that.
Yes, you hate with some justification. Their world view is so narrow and narcissistic you are free to despise these mini-celebrities who have delusions of grandeur, influence and are as dumb as rocks. Therapy achieved.
The Ultimatum: Marry or Move On (streams Netflix) shares something with Byron Baes – a lot of cheesy patio furniture. Which reminds me: What do you call an Irishman who sits outside in the rain? Paddy O’Furniture. Yes, it’s so weirdly awful you make up jokes as you watch.
Coming under the dubious “social experiment” category of reality TV, it’s not much different from the awfulness of Temptation Island. Couples on the brink of engagement/marriage but one person balks, is the theme. The series follow six couples and over many weeks, the pairs date people from the other couples while everybody observes what’s going on.
As co-host Nick Lachey tells the group, “Each of you are compatible with multiple different partners.” Yikes, what a sick-minded premise: publicly try to sabotage your relationship in the name of TV stardom. Yep, you get to hate many of the participants and you can laugh at their tears because they are superficial people more concerned with hair than personal integrity.
In the end you should be hating yourself for being so mean-spirited, not hating these people. Take that as self-help therapy if you like.
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