The most controversial TV moments of 2021

It's been a hell of a year for TV and, let's face it, some of us needed extra entertaining with lockdowns, no interstate travel and the race to get enough people vaccinated to regain our freedoms.

Luckily there have been the good, the bad and the ugly to fill our days and nights and help us escape our very local and small worlds.

But it is the most controversial who really have us talking.

Here are the shows we've discussed with friends and family over a Friday night drink, at the bar or via Zoom ...


MAFS called out

MAFS couple Beck and Jake, Melissa and Bryce and Coco and Sam
MAFS caused a lot of controversy in 2021. Photo: Channel Nine

It wasn't the first time Married At First Sight producers were accused of allowing controversial behaviour on the show.

However there were enough complaints this year to the broadcasting watchdog, The Australian Communications and Media Authority, to warrant an investigation.

The authority said: "The ACMA has commenced an investigation into episodes of the 2021 season of MAFS and is currently assessing the scope of the investigation noting the range of issues raised in complaints over several episodes."

Despite the influx of complaints, ACMA found that the show did not breach the Commercial Television Code of Practice.

SAS Australia's Controversial boxing match

Jessica Peris and Kerri Pottharst stand together on SAS Australia.
Jessica Peris and Kerri Pottharst's fist fight was hard to watch both for contestants and viewers. Photo: Instagram/@sasaustralia

SAS Australia is known to push contestants to their limits but even the celebrities struggled to watch the violent boxing match between 28-year-old athlete Jessica Peris and former Olympic volleyballer Kerri Pottharst, 56.

"Don’t hit too hard on her face. That’s wrong. Stop …" fellow contestant Koby Abberton said on the show.

"My life has been around violence - violence towards women, that’s my mum’s life.

"I have a five-year-old - I don’t want him to grow up the way I grew up.

"I don’t want him see that sort of violence."

After the match Jessica was quick to apologise to Kerri.

"I'm so sorry," Jessica said.

"That was the most disrespectful thing I've ever done."

"I hated it. You were squealing, Kerri, and getting belted and I hated listening to that," fellow contestant Alicia Molik, added.

"I just hated every second of the fighting and the emotion completely overwhelmed me and I just opted out."

Pregnancy on The Farmer Wants A Wife

Hayley Love shows her pregnant belly. Right, Willy Dwyer sits on a sofa in a paddock.
Farmer Will Dwyer and "wife" Hayley Love were never together on the show but they got together briefly after filming had ended. Photo: Instagram/@the_natural_81;/@hayleyjlove

Back in July, Hayley Love from this year's Farmer Wants A Wife revealed that she was pregnant, claiming it was Farmer Will's child.

"I am 22 weeks pregnant with Farmer Will’s child," Hayley wrote in a statement provided to

"I started my relationship with Farmer Will in December, before the reunion episode was filmed a few weeks later in January.

"He told me he wasn’t with Jaimee and Jaimee was in contact with me before the reunion.

"On (ApriI 2) I left his house thinking, 'I'm never coming back, I'm done.'

"The next morning I found out I was 6 weeks pregnant. I was terrified to tell him," Hayley wrote.

"I’ve tried to keep things amicable with him, to be clear on what his involvement with our child will be. I’ve asked him to all the appointments and he did come to the ultrasound.

"I have decided to keep the baby because I have enough love for this child, with or without a biological father. I will be enough for him or her."

Hayley explained why she had decided to come forward: "I am speaking my truth before it gets misconstrued by the public and tabloids who don’t know the full story."

Will then took to social media.

"If this is in fact my child, I’ll be there whenever the child needs me. Even if as parents we can’t be a couple, our family will be filled with love for our child," Will wrote on Instagram.

Hayley gave birth to a beautiful baby girl earlier in December.

The Block Cheating Scandal

Cast of The Block. Top right, Josh and Luke. Bottom right, Tanya.
The cheating scandal threatened to derail this year's series, but the truth came out in the end! Photo: Instagram/@theblock

When Scott Cam discovered someone had photographed the The Block's production schedule, he was determined to find out who.

Tanya and Luke both admitted to seeing the schedule, but both denied taking the picture.

"In the first week of The Block, I got a text message from a tradie who was working on our site, saying, 'Hi Tanya, such-and-such gave me your number, I thought this information would be very useful to you for the weeks ahead'," Tanya said during the show.

This was no trivial matter; host Scott worried it would undermine the show's integrity.

"I have never seen anything like this in any of the TV shows I have worked on over the years," he said in a statement.

"We had to have some serious production meetings to establish a way to move forward.

"This scandal made it very unfair for everyone."

However, in the pre-auction show, the truth came out and Tanya finally confessed what everyone knew: she had taken the picture and forwarded it to Luke.

"Yeah, I took the photograph," she admitted after finding out the twins, Josh and Luke, had spilled the beans.

Tanya took to Instagram to explain and apologise to fans.

"I want to apologise and take ownership of my part in this tumultuous road that I took, it was a long and painful bendy path, one I paved for myself and only have myself to blame," the mum of two wrote.

"It was a fear-based decision and when you are fearful, you're irrational and when you're irrational you make stupid choices and then you dig a (hole) so deep that it's hard to crawl back out.

"I have regrets and so much that I could say about this season but all I really want to say is 'Sorry, we let so many people down'.

"The humiliation on national television is, I can assure you, is the biggest punishment of all!"

Anjali Rao 'quitting' The Real Housewives of Melbourne after half a season

Cast of The Real Housewives of Melbourne. Right, Anjali Rao.
Anjali Rao quits The Real Housewives of Melbourne halfway through her first season! Photo: Instagram/@rhomelbourne

International TV newsreader Anjali Rao joined The Real Housewives of Melbourne just this season, however it seems that's all she could stomach.

In the ultimate diva moment, Anjali appeared to quit while also dissing her co-stars.

"I've had 25 years in the top tiers of global media. I find the experience of being in the group boring," she said.

"I'm not exactly dealing with the biggest brains here.

They're not special, they're just your average, run-of-the-mill, common or garden variety b****es," Anjali reveals on the show.

But Janet Roach doesn't buy her excuses.

“I think [Anjali] is running around and saying that … ‘[the show is] fake, it’s not for me’… and the fact of the matter is … she couldn’t keep up," Janet told the Unpopular with Jacques Peterson podcast.

"She struggled all the way through.

"I asked one of the other girls ‘what is the problem for that girl?,’ and you’ll see it, it’s on camera, and [the other housewife] said ‘she was terrified of being exposed'.

"I then said ‘exposed for what?’ but we never got there because … she decided that she didn’t want to do it anymore."

Is this all just to add drama to the season?

Squid Game

Scenes from Squid Game
Squid Game was an unexpected hit for Netflix but kids took it seriously. Photo: Instagram/@netflixanz

Dystopian Korean horror series Squid Game has been a huge hit for Netflix and even influenced Halloween costume choices this year.

However, the real concern was that children were watching the show and mimicking what they saw.

One primary school principal wrote to parents to warn them about the series.

"Squid Game features scenes that depict extreme violence and gore, strong language and frightening moments that are, according to its rating, simply not suitable for primary and early high school-aged children," Dulwich Hill Public School principal Linda Wickham wrote.

"An aggressive version of a familiar children’s game, red light, green light, is played in the series.

"This, and other inappropriate content, are negatively influencing playground games.

"Violent language and aggressive behaviours may be easily mimicked by children, particularly outside the confines of your home and in the wider space of a school playground."

Schools in other states and countries, including Belgium and the UK, also issued warnings.

And it's not just on Netflix that parents need to be vigilant, people are also cashing in on the craze on social media as well with content specifically targeted to children.

This craze isn't going away soon, so only time will tell if it will blow over or blow up!

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