A few thoughts on The GC

If you go to the NZ On Air website and find their Television Production Funding Guidelines document, you'll find that the opening paragraph states that their "mission is to fund programmes that reflect the diverse nature of New Zealand and its culture. We look for strong ideas that have a clear New Zealand identity and are supported by a solid investment case." Their wider mission statement says "we champion local content through skillful investment in quality New Zealand broadcasting."

While there is no doubt that new series The GC - which started last night on TV3 - will probably rate well (making it a "solid investment case"), the show is NOT a good example of New Zealand culture, nor is it an example of quality broadcasting.

The GC might be the worst show on television right now, maybe even the worst show this country has ever produced (even counting Melody Rules). A so-called "reality" show that purports to profile successful young Maori on the Gold Coast, but which instead twists the day-to-day life of its cast of characters to make them appear morally bankrupt* and more interested in amassing money, sex and fame than in any kind of normal existence.

And I'm upset - no, I'm downright furious - that taxpayer money, my money and your money, was used to make this giant turd. And you should be furious too**. NZ On Air granted The GC a total of $419,408 back in August last year (under the name Golden Mozzies; look it up on NZoA's search page). At least 83c of that is mine, and I'd like it back please.

To be clear, I'm not necessarily against the idea of a show that profiles successful young Maori living in Australia. I think a documentary series that shows a range of characters going to job interviews, attempting to forge a career, and dealing with the challenges of being a foreigner abroad could make for some really interesting viewing.

But as last night's premiere showed, the production team behind The GC have no such aspirations - and while the media spin cycle will try to convince you otherwise, the comparisons to Jersey Shore (with a few The Hills-esque moments thrown in for good measure) are spot on. In fact, the way the first episode was put together, you would be forgiven for thinking the producers were purposely chasing those Jersey Shore comparisons.

For example, the entire first episode was built around a group of drink first, questions later people in their early-20s moving into a flash new house, and then partying together in their new digs, having a few ridiculous inter-personal dramas, and hitting the clubs as part of some synchronized effort to get laid.

Sound familiar? That's the premise of the first episode of every season of Jersey Shore so far.

Then there's Vinny ... oops, I mean Tame, the playful younger guy who claims to be a property investor (even though his day job is in scaffolding and his latest investment was the "gangsta as" apartment at the centre of the episode), who is out for a good time and uses a veritable dictionary of strange lingo. Does anyone actually use the word "aunty" to describe a potential sexual partner? Or "mumsie" to describe a girlfriend? I've certainly never heard anyone do it. Until now.

And of course the guys are higher maintenance than the girls, too. A long sequence in the first episode shows the men of The GC changing outfits repeatedly, shaving their legs, doing their hair, and oiling up their muscles for that new-muscle shine. The only thing missing was a repeated chant of "G. T. L." It was simply painful to watch.

No, The GC is not much more than a Jersey Shore homage. Still, that isn't necessarily a problem; I can enjoy an episode of some trashy, ultimately forgettable show as much as anyone. Trash TV has its place in the schedule.

But I can't help but think that, by chasing that Shore vibe, the producers here have missed a perfect opportunity to tell an interesting story.

Why did we need to spend an episode getting drunk with these people? I'm sure Jessi isn't as shallow as she comes off, Tame isn't as horny as he might seem, and Rosie isn't as angry as that late night phone call might suggest - in fact, I'm positive she isn't. I'm friends with her dad, and while I haven't met Rosie herself, I'd venture to say that (based on my impression of the rest of her family) she has been horribly misrepresented here.

What I'm saying is, surely there are more interesting, more intelligent ways that these people could have contributed to a weekly series - and that's the real reason I hate this show***.

Also, as I said, I'm furious that money I've paid to the government, through taxable income, is being used this way - to create a show that essentially glorifies sex, money and fame by misrepresenting a group of people who probably thought they were getting into something other than an F-grade Jersey Shore ripoff.

Not to mention the fact that the $419,408 could have been better spent kickstarting a fund to save TVNZ7, our doomed sole public service channel. Actually, that $419,408 could be better spent doing just about anything else, including burning it in a half-hour television special.

Can The GC improve and justify the taxpayer funding given to it? I guess anything is possible.

But for right now, after a single episode, just know that this is a giant piece of crap, an embarrassment to New Zealand television that should never have been made, at least not in this incarnation. I won't be watching again. I sincerely hope you don't either.

Did you watch The GC last night? Did you hate it as much as I did? Are you as angry that it cost you money, as I am?

(*) Notice I said "characters" - it's important to remember that a show like this simply cannot be seen as a true representation of anyone involved. I'm sure people like Rosie and Jade are genuinely good people; I haven't met any of them, so I couldn't say. But their on-screen personas are a different story entirely. For the purposes of this blog, keep in mind that I'm only referring to their on-screen personas, not the people themselves.

(**) I wasn't the only one who didn't enjoy The GC - a couple of my favourite tweets: "Watching #TheGC makes Shortland Street look like Shakespeare." -@BexTintedDreams, "Calling it car crash TV is offensive to car crashes." -@beanbiz, "It's like watching someone play the [expletive] Sims." -@TophHooperton, "THANKS NZ ON AIR #TheGC" -@gossip_dork

(***) Again, the show, not the real people involved in the show.

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