To be honest, there’s nothing sexy about flies, sheep, potatoes and dirt. But what if you add six well-built, strong, good-looking farmers to the scene and mix with the quest for love? Well then it’s adorable, cheesy and addictive trashy TV.
My friend and I have become hopeless addicts to Channel Nine’s display of lonely hearts in the sixth season of The Farmer wants a Wife. Now up to episode four of the season our Wednesday nights have become (somewhat embarrassingly) dedicated to huddling up close to the television set as the latest romantic drama unfurls for the night.
It’s a simple reality series formula, with a cut and paste story line following The Farmers in which contestants compete for eye candy Mark, Nick, Charles, Melia, Kieran and Ben’s hearts. The ages range from 24 to 33 years old, all of whom seem to have had little experience in long-term relationships.
Yet, the words “potential wife/husband” and “soul mate” are flung around by host, Natalie Gruzlewksi, with certainty and promise. The promise seems like an easy one to make, The Farmer Wants a Wife series list of successes in the love department include four weddings, four engagements, two babies (and another on its way) since the show’s debut in 2007.
“While The Farmer Wants a Wife is a reality show, it is not a competition. There is no prize money and the only winner in the end is love.”
And if that doesn’t make your heart melt, what will?
Perhaps it is also the familiarity which makes the show addictive. You don’t have to come from a rural or regional background to feel like the farmers and contestants are someone you have met. It is the ordinary that makes reality television so intriguing. The farmers could very well be playing for our hearts, wooing us with their efforts and conversations, or, making us cringe.
Perhaps it is the loneliness of the outback, the vast plains of the land which appeal to us, with the show giving us an insight to a dreamy Australianness, a modern epitome of Banjo Patterson’s “The Man from Snowy River.”
As much as I would love to explain my addiction to an insightful literary reference it is probably more Mills and Boons related. All women are just easily charmed by the dirt smeared jaw of a masculine gent. Or- to be more specific- the chiselled abs of shirtless Farmer Mark. (But seriously, does that man not own a single shirt?!)
The contestants for the farmer’s hearts are usually strangers to the land which makes great entertainment for viewers. We watch, and snigger, as girls trample through the muddy paddocks in high heels, wearing fashions more appropriate to a night club then for a hard day’s work on the farm. Contestant Sophie was in shock after getting mud on her designer threads, “it’s a $500 shirt with encrusted diamonds!” She was disgusted and shocked. My friend and I couldn’t stop laughing. Was this girl serious?
Of course, it was all very well for us – dressed in our pyjamas – to judge her. Yet, that is part of the fun of reality television. The candid interviews with the contestants about their quest for love are corny and often gag-worthy, “I’m definitely falling for you Kieran,” contestant Sarah crones.
Falling for him?! You just met the guy! As manufactured as the show is, the fumbling awkwardness of the farmers and contestants seems beyond fabrication. Often viewers are made to feel like they are ears dropping on a conversation, or peering into someone else’s personal diary. A guilty pleasure.
But yet as quickly as Sarah declares her new love for Kieran, openly in front of two other gorgeous competing contestants, she is rejected by Kieran as he tells her not to stay on in his top two. Sarah, a model who was finalist for the Miss Australia pageant, is reduced to tears as she leaves the property. Yet she quickly composes herself and reassures viewers that, “I am not going to give up on love.” See the thing about The Farmer Wants a Wife is that for the sake of television love is quickly declared, but, in a 40 minute episode it is just as quickly extinguished.
Well, there are always plenty of other farmers in the sea. And with Channel Nine doing a current call out for farmers for the show’s seventh season, I am pleased to know that there’s going to be more good ol’ trashy, romantic fun on the way.