Why do girls like Top Gear?

03:29, Aug 16 2010

I just spent 20 minutes trying to think of a TV comparison for myself.

See, my name is Chris, I'm 29 years old, and I really didn't think I would find myself blogging on Stuff about one of my favourite subjects - in fact, it's almost a dream come true. Throw in a date with The Vampire Diaries' Nina Dobrev and it would be.

Sadly, the best comparison for me that I could come up with was Demi Lovato's character on Disney hit Sonny with a Chance. By the way, I only know about that show because my daughter watches it. Honest.

Let's just move on.

So you might be wondering what On the Box is. Well, On the Box is a little corner of Stuff that will be used to discuss television - the shows that are on New Zealand television right now, the plot lines that make them so intriguing, the latest news stories about what's coming up next, and the stars who make us come back to certain programmes again and again (Ms Dobrev, I'm looking at you).

The key words in that sentence are "New Zealand" and "television" - we'll be keeping up with Kiwi broadcasting dates, so please don't post spoilers if you've already seen ahead. Downloading shows might be a common practice, particularly here in NZ (and Australia, apparently), but not everyone has the ability, motivation, or internet connection to do it. In the interest of all involved, let's not spoil things for anyone.

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To be honest, we don't even need to look overseas. There are plenty of great shows on at the moment - heck, just in the last few days we've had new episodes of reality king (or should that be queen) New Zealand's Next Top Model, comedy The Middle, procedurals NCIS and Criminal Minds, and UK car show Top Gear.

Hey, speaking of Top Gear ...

The latest series of BBC's seminal motoring show continued on Prime last night, with hosts Jeremy Clarkson, Richard Hammond and James May playing the role of chauffeurs for a real wedding, F1 driver Rubens Barrichello and Harry Potter star Rupert Grint topping the "Star in a Reasonably Priced Car" leader boards, and The Stig pitting a Chevrolet Camaro SS against a Mercedes E63 AMG for a spin around the test track.

Now, I realise I'm not breaking new ground by saying this, but guys love Top Gear. When it's on, I know that it will be the sole focus of conversation over morning tea the next day at work. My workmates and I love nothing better than sitting around, trying to figure out if we would take the Aston Martin Rapide over the Maserati Quattroporte, or whether the Chevrolet Camaro SS is more our style. But it's not the show that we love, as such. Men love Top Gear simply because men love cars - especially flash cars we see on TV. I can't tell the difference between a spark plug and a starter motor, yet I still pine for James Bond's DBS V12.

Maybe it's genetic.     

The thing is, I've noticed that girls love getting in on Top Gear talk too. I have a few female friends who don't have even a little bit of interest in cars themselves but still love Top Gear. Even my mum likes Top Gear. She also loves The Notebook. Go figure.

To find out why, I posted on Facebook asking for girls who watch Top Gear to explain what they like most. My friend Liv summed it up best, saying "the photography and filming is amazing, the presenters are super personable and it doesn't come across all 'dirty bogan'". In short, while the content is suited for the guys, the presentation itself is entertaining and looks great on-screen, meaning it appeals to men and women alike.

It seems so simple when you spell it out like that, so you'd think every show that's more appealing to one gender than the other would try to emulate that formula. Imagine if Dancing on Ice chucked in some gun fights and a couple of nice cars. I'd watch it. Yet for the life of me I can't name another show on TV that is skewed for guys but also draws in girls (or vice versa).

So here is my question for you: What shows can you think of that clearly aren't meant for your gender, but which you love anyway? If you're a female, do you like Top Gear?

More generally, what shows are you watching at the moment? What would you like to see On the Box blog about?