For the past six weeks 10 tanned, toned and trendy Maori have divided the nation.
Thousands have been glued to their TV screens, lapping up the adventures of the young Kiwis – and their unique "lingo" – as they build lives on Australia's Gold Coast.
Critics have poured scorn on The GC, claiming it is cringe-worthy, and questioning why NZ On Air allocated it $420,000. But as the final show of series one nears, creator Bailey Mackey has fired back, questioning whether some of the criticism is race-based.
"There is still a section of New Zealand that isn't that keen to see Maori portrayed as doing well, and the heart of our show is young Maori taking control of their futures," he said.
The GC concept was born after Mackey visited the Gold Coast and was struck by how many Maori were living there, many in labouring jobs, earning more than they would in New Zealand. "They had a self-confidence that wasn't apparent when they were here."
The show was going to be called Golden Mozzies but feedback showed many Maori were offended by Mozzies – used to mean Maori Ozzies.
When the show aired on May 2 the 10-strong cast was labelled an embarrassment, the show was described as a new low, and NZ On Air's involvement was slated.
Prime Minister John Key even entered the debate. "I don't know whether it's a good show or not, but I've seen the controversy, and weren't they saying it was the highest-watched thing? If the test is whether people watch, then they've probably done their job, haven't they?"
Last month The GC was the most searched term on Google in New Zealand. On the evening it opened it was also the second-most commented Twitter topic.
Mackey is no stranger to high-profile local productions, and although some found critical acclaim, none has been the ratings success The GC has.
"I'd probably done 20-plus shows before it, but it will probably define my time as a broadcaster. It's been successful on a number of levels, in terms of creating a debate around a number of issues, and in its depiction of Maori.
"You can make a series that talks about Maori and the statistics Maori are often the top of, but at the end of the day you don't get attention for that. But you flip the coin and suddenly you get this massive response."
Mackey said time would determine how the show was judged. He is talking with TV3 about another series. NZ On Air's part remains unknown, but he says the eight shows made from the $420,000 provided was money well spent.
- © Fairfax NZ News