The Block's bid to shake up the show and increase drama is swiftly backfiring, with fans calling out the show's production this season, labelling it as 'disappointing'.
Less than two weeks into the season, the show has focused heavily on arguments and cheating scandals, with viewers saying they're switching off and losing interest after too much "nasty behaviour".
The eruption of a cheating scandal, which saw contestants Steph and Gian receive help from her dad Nick, who is a qualified builder, has tainted recent episodes of The Block, with fans turning against Ash and Leah after their 'aggressive' behaviour in last night's episode.
The nonsensical scene where the group sat down to talk to Steph and Gian about the use of her father as a builder, highlighted less than favourable behaviour from Ash and Leah as they took it upon themselves to hold the pair accountable, and instead came across as petty and immature.
It isn't the first time Steph has been a target on this season of The Block, and last night's episode saw her tear up as she said she feels like people have been talking about her behind her back, instead of speaking to her directly. Fans of the show had previously called out Leah and Kristy's "disturbing" behaviour towards Steph.
Steph comes off as socially awkward and maybe quite shy, neither of these things are a reason to be on the receiving end of Leah and kristy’s vitriol. Credit to the sisters for not joining in on the pile on #TheBlock
— Elon Musk stick (@justinedonohoe) August 9, 2023
Historically, The Block has always been one of the more wholesome reality shows to air on our screens: over the years, seasons have showcased contestants being there for each other and helping each other out in moments of need.
In 2021, when Kirsty and Jesse had to leave the show temporarily to go spend time with Kirsty's family after her nan died, other contestants chipped in, saying everyone would put in a few hours of their day to help the couple out.
It's a far cry from what we're currently seeing on our screens, with mean girl (and guy!) behaviour and toxicity taking over instead, making this season an unnecessarily exhausting watch.
Should skills-based shows focus on talent only and leave the drama to dating shows?
Talent and skills-based shows have done this before, switching up methods to try and bring in the same audiences that get addicted to drama-heavy shows like Married at First Sight and The Bachelor.
In 2018, My Kitchen Rules hosted a more dramatic season than what had previously been seen, with targeted "big" personalities taking on bitchier roles in what was once a more wholesome cooking show.
The MKR judges themselves admitted in the promotion of the 2019 season that there was "too much" drama and said they wanted to keep the show to more controlled standards, after judge Colin Fassnidge admitted he didn't even want his children to watch the series after more toxic behaviours were aired.
With The Block heading down the same road, the loyal audience it once had is fed up with dramatic twists and bitchy behaviour, and it's easy to understand why.
It's not the annoyance that drama is happening: it's the forced nature of it and the casting of 'villains' to bring in ratings.
Reality shows often showcase contestants in high-pressure situations that are not necessarily conducive to how things would play out in real life, meaning we do see the best and worst of people. But when audiences are used to watching a skill-based show — like a renovation or cooking show — they're not usually sitting down to watch people fight and pick each other apart over petty issues.
In comparison, people tune into MAFS and The Bachelor knowing the highly competitive environment and pressures around romantic relationships will lead to drama. These shows cast well, and the storylines naturally lend themselves to drama — skills-based shows like The Block used to be a nice reprieve from the toxic drama that can surround dating shows. But when they start to copy the method that's worked for shows with huge ratings like MAFS, the market feels oversaturated and what was once a show focused on skill, partnerships, and friendly rivalry, no longer feels enjoyable.
Can The Block bounce back?
The Block is currently in its mammoth 19th season — is it just going through a delayed hormonal angsty teen change?
While shaking a show up after such a long run is an understandable notion, it's better off to leave the villains and the backstabbing to the experts like MAFS, rather than promote it on a show that was once wholesome family viewing.
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