Be careful what you wish for, reality TV is a cautionary tale

In classical mythology the Ancient Greeks conjured up a pantheon of gods to serve as warnings to mortals about the dangers of lust, envy, deception, narcissism and greed.

These days we have the cast of Married At First Sight.

Just as for the gods of Olympus, there are consequences for their sins but they are safely self-contained within their own dimension. Those of us in the real world are insulated from their idiocy.

Troy is California and Helen is Harry. Picture: CBS
Troy is California and Helen is Harry. Picture: CBS

Thus we can marvel at their misdeeds and transgressions, their lies and manipulation, and see the trail of carnage that they leave behind without having to risk such behaviour ourselves.

Indeed, human beings have always needed such morality plays to keep them on the straight and narrow - be it passages from the Bible or the pages of Woman's Day.

What is the wall-to-wall coverage of Harry and Meghan if not a real life soap opera about the blindness of love, the binds of family ties and the fatal flaws of narcissism and hubris? Indeed it is the exact same story as the Illiad, in which Troy is California and Helen is Harry.

Married At First Sight acts as a warning of what not to do at home. Photo: Channel 9
Married At First Sight acts as a warning of what not to do at home. Photo: Channel 9

Cultural snobs see such glossy fodder as tabloid trash, the bottoming out of human civilisation, yet it is in fact the reverse. The real message of MAFS is "Do Not Try This At Home". Don't be like these people! See what happens when they lie and cheat and hurt those closest to them! Make sure you never do this! Be better than they are!

Indeed, the message can be seen in the contestants' bad behaviour being constantly interspliced with nauseating banalities about "respect" and "acknowledgment" and "validation" that would not look out of place in a green-left academic text.

In other words, reality TV is the new religion - the way in which we try to explain the world and guide our behaviour in it.

Or maybe it's just a way of finding out what happens when a giant hot tradie who looks like a Viking hooks up with an eastern suburbs princess.

It hardly matters. Both causes are equally valid and deserving of acknowledgment and respect.

Joe Hildebrand is on 2GB Nights with John Stanley on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 8pm

Originally published as Be careful what you wish for, reality TV is a cautionary tale


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