With an outcome of nine marriages and 20 kids, it’s fair to say that Farmer Wants a Wife is Australia’s most successful reality dating show.
However, many fans have noticed that the recent Channel 7 reboot of the series has turned its focus to causing drama instead of finding love, with only one couple from the past two seasons still together.
Joanna ‘Jo’ Hodges née Fincham is one of the many success stories to come out of the reality series after finding love with cattle farmer Rob Hodges on season two of the show in 2008.
The former newspaper photographer made the daring move from Melbourne to Mount Gambier to marry her farmer, and the pair now share three children.
Speaking with Yahoo Lifestyle shortly after the latest season of Farmer Wants a Wife ended, Jo shared her thoughts on the revamped version of the reality show in comparison to her time on TV.
“Shows really thrive on drama, which is unfortunate, but that’s the way it is,” she said.
“I feel that Farmer has evolved a little bit from when we were on it, to the point where now it is a little bit more drama-filled.
“The guys were in it a lot more and now it’s sort of more focused on the girls. It used to be very much them getting their hands dirty on the farm.”
Reality TV edits
Reflecting on her own season 13 years ago, Jo says that she had a really great experience and doesn’t regret anything, but not everything that appeared on TV was as it seemed.
“They sort of create characters for each person through editing, so Rob was the elder statesman, I was the young, over the top, loud person,” she said. “They paint you in a picture and then they stick with it the whole series, and it can be really hard.”
She also adds that despite being one of the show’s winners, her reality TV edit wasn’t always flattering.
“I remember I said something like, ‘I could definitely see a future with Rob’, and they played that after our first five-minute speed date, but it was said right at the end of filming,” she revealed.
“So I just thought, oh my god I look like a stage six clinger!”
Jo made sure to pass her insider advice onto her friend Farmer Will, who appeared on the most recent season of Farmer Wants a Wife.
She and Rob made a surprise appearance in the show’s finale to support Will, which she says brought back plenty of memories and made the experience over a decade ago feel like “just yesterday”.
Advice for future contestants
The pilates instructor went on to say that she hopes that future contestants have a good support system around them and they know what they’re getting into, as she herself had a tough experience dealing with public opinion during her season.
“All of a sudden you’re thrust into this thing where a lot of people are talking about you in a way that can be really quite derogatory and upsetting,” she confessed.
“I think that was probably the biggest thing for me and just knowing that there isn't always a lot of support there from certain parties, I suppose.
“There's always a chance of getting rejected on the show and that can be really quite demoralising as well, so you have to know that you are in a position where anything can really happen.”
While Jo is an impressive statistic in successful reality TV love stories, she also makes up another significant number of people who have moved to the country to find love.
eharmony has found that 54% of Australians have relocated to be with a partner, with a majority preferring a move to the country over the city.
“There's something really special about the country and there’s no way I could live back in a capital city,” Jo admitted. “We’re both quite happy here and now that we’ve had our three kids we feel very connected to this region as well.
“I would say that if anyone is willing to move - if you have a supportive partner - it can be the absolute making of you. It’s certainly been the making of me.”
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