Heartbreak Island makes The Bachelor look like a picnic at Gloriavale

by Diana Wichtel / 24 June, 2018
Heartbreak Island. Photo/Tom Hollow

Heartbreak Island. Photo/Tom Hollow

RelatedArticlesModule - Heartbreak Island

Dating show Heartbreak Island takes the worst bits from every idiotic example of the genre and chucks them into a black hole of pointlessness.

We live in a country where the leader of the Act Party assuming a position suggestive of acute gastric distress set to music counts as top entertainment. When it comes to television, and politics, we deserve everything we get. Cue the cynical underestimation of the intelligence of the audience that is TVNZ 2’s Heartbreak Island.

Hey ho, it’s off to defile a Fijian isle with a dating show that takes the worst bits from every idiotic example of the genre and chucks them into a black hole of staggering pointlessness. It’s Married at First Sight with no marriage and no psychologists. Tinder in bikinis. Eight couples match themselves by choosing from photos and a bio. Then it’s off to a bure to let nature take its course, or not, under video surveillance. As one contestant explained, “I’m sleeping in a room with a random.” The online-only Heartbreak Island Uncut version cut to the chase: “In the 70s, they used to do this with car keys in a bowl.”

There are Survivor-like challenges. One involved men lashed to poles while women threw balls at them. The balls first had to be fished out of a vat, then carried stuffed into skimpy swimwear. The scene defied description, although the Uncut commentator tried: “She looks like an amphibian ready to spawn her terrifying eggs.”

Panels behind the men had to be knocked out by the women throwing the balls or, alternatively, they just pummelled the bejesus out of the men. “It’s a modern-day fairground-style crucifixion!” went the Uncut commentary. Fair enough. What is trash reality television but a modern-day fairground crucifixion?

God knows what the rules are. The contestants look as if they’re in a lab experiment designed to drive them mad via random punishment and reinforcement. Some claim to be there seeking love, but this makes The Bachelor look like a picnic at Gloriavale. The contestants were taken out to a floating bar to bond or drink themselves into a coma, whichever came first. Young Izaak, alarmingly a pilot, was soon pie-eyed and vomiting. His partner, Ruby, left to chat up Kristian. Whatevs.

Our hapless hosts are Matilda Rice and Mark Dye. What were they thinking? There’s no way to come out of this well after delivering such lines as, “Who is about to find out they are the least popular player here!” In the first episode, Ella and Tavita learn that no fellow contestant picked them. Ella struggled to fight back tears at this ritual humiliation for our entertainment.

There are laughs. Australian Harry looks disturbingly like a 12-year-old, yet seems to have acquired his excruciating pick-up lines from Dame Edna Everage. “Hello, you naughty little possums!” he cried winningly to the appalled women. But mostly this show seems designed to highlight attributes that would be helpful when applying for the KGB. Every reality show has its nasty backstabber. On Heartbreak, everyone is Naz from The Bachelor. Uplifting relationship advice from the show’s hottest guy, Kristian: “If you’re not the predator, you’re the prey.” His partner, Ruby, was unimpressed and he was eliminated in a cheerless jamboree of betrayal.

At least there’s no pretence, as with Married at First Sight, that this is a groundbreaking social experiment. As someone noted, “Your moral compass doesn’t work on Heartbreak Island.” That goes for those who made it.

The format is similar to Love Island. That show hit the headlines when the dysfunction spilt into British living rooms: “Police called after 11-year-old girl ‘kicks off’ over ‘Love Island’.” She wasn’t allowed to watch it. Well, these things aren’t family entertainment. When it comes to modelling healthy relationships, you’d be better off letting your children watch characters in The Walking Dead trying to eat each other’s heads. Heartbreak Island? Just no.

Heartbreak Island, TVNZ 2, Monday to Wednesday, 7.30pm.

This article was first published in the June 30, 2018 issue of the New Zealand Listener.

Latest

Keira Knightley shines in bodice-ripping period drama Colette
102397 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Movies

Keira Knightley shines in bodice-ripping period dr…

by James Robins

The story of Sidonie-Gabrielle Colette, a heroine of French literature, focuses on her early struggles.

Read more
Is barbecued meat bad for your health?
102255 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Nutrition

Is barbecued meat bad for your health?

by Jennifer Bowden

Sizzling meat on the barbecue is the sound and smell of summer, but proceed with caution.

Read more
March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the age of the machine?
102434 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

March of the Algorithms: Who’s at the wheel in the…

by Jenny Nicholls

Complacently relying on algorithms can lead us over a cliff – literally, in the case of car navigation systems.

Read more
IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computing
102458 2019-02-16 00:00:00Z Tech

IBM’s new quantum computer: The future of computin…

by Peter Griffin

The Q System One, as IBM calls it, doesn’t look like any conventional computer and it certainly doesn’t act like one.

Read more
James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth gap
102456 2019-02-15 14:54:45Z Politics

James Shaw: Capital gains tax key to fixing wealth…

by RNZ

The week before a major tax report is released, Green Party co-leader James Shaw has again challenged his government partners to back the tax.

Read more
Jealousy, murder and lies: The killing of Arishma Chand
102448 2019-02-15 10:28:12Z Crime

Jealousy, murder and lies: The killing of Arishma…

by Anneke Smith

Arishma Chand was just 24 when she was murdered.

Read more
Top wine picks from Central Otago
102233 2019-02-15 00:00:00Z Wine

Top wine picks from Central Otago

by Michael Cooper

Tucked into small corners, Central Otago vineyards offer nuggets worth digging for. Wine critic Michael Coopers offers his top picks.

Read more
Ivanka and her tower of crumbs
102404 2019-02-14 10:33:12Z Arts

Ivanka and her tower of crumbs

by Preminda Jacob

For two hours each evening, an Ivanka Trump lookalike has been vacuuming a hot pink carpet at the Flashpoint Gallery in Washington, D.C.

Read more