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Pop CultureSeptember 8, 2019

10 ways The Block NZ could be better

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It’s the grand finale of The Block NZ: Firehouse, but after a snooze of a season some fans are past caring. Long time Block NZ fan Tara Ward has a few ideas on how the show could get its mojo back. 

For eight long years, I’ve lived and breathed The Block NZ until my veins pulsed with waterborne semi-gloss. It’s the reality show that turns a rundown bunch of nothing into four incredible homes, and a show that can change lives come auction night. I love seeing the creative transformations of the houses, and I love watching the dynamics between couples and teams as they create amazing spaces under huge time and emotional pressures.

Best of all, The Block NZ is built on that classic Kiwi notion that a bit of hard yakka can make your dreams come true. Build it and they will come, and every year, we bloody well do.

But this year’s Firehouse season has left a bitter taste in my mouth, much like the time Sophia ate the pink chicken. It’s been a bit shit, really. We’ve had three months of mental gameplay, accusations of bullying, tense Block Collective fiascos and endless he said/she said drama. We’ve had inane challenges up the wazoo and back down the gutter marble run. There’s been little joy or charm, and you may be better off watching Celebrity Treasure Island for some interior inspiration for your hopuni. I mean, even the gas bottles went rogue.

For a show about home renovation, my beloved Block NZ has morphed into a show with almost nothing to do with home renovation. It’s become The Krypton Factor with a paintbrush, or Nailed It with a fireman’s pole. We’re about to throw in the mustard towel on the flattest Block NZ season ever, and like a grumpy Wolf announcing Friday night tools down, I’m saying enough is enough.

Me watching The Block NZ: Firehouse.

The Block NZ is a big part of our reality TV landscape, but why should we put up with mediocre? Why shouldn’t The Block NZ be amazing? As the teams prepare to go to auction tonight, here are ten ideas on what the show could do to come back fizzing like the reality TV beast it was born to be.

1) Choose contestants who know what the firetruck they’re doing

Change the rules and open the show up to professionals. Pick contestants that are designers and decorators and builders, people who live and breathe interior style and renovation. They’ll pull off bold choices and inspire us with their creative ideas, while Mediaworks will get styley houses that sees them laughing all the way to the bank. Winner, winner, pink chicken dinner.

2) Which leads us to a Block NZ All Star version

Imagine The Block NZ with four strong teams like Stu and Amy, Alice and Caleb, or Alex and Corban. These reality TV veterans probably have more sense than to return, but they were successful for a reason: they worked their arses off, and they had a strong creative vision. Plus, Amy put wallpaper in her dunny. What a treat.

3) Flush all the pointless challenges down the pink portaloo

No more Dinner Wars. No more Block Stars. No more making faces out of vegetables, or fishing coins out of pantyhose, or catapaulting marshmallows into a bowl bobbing in water. The renovation is game enough, Richardson!

4) Set fire to all the pissy +1s/-1s/bonus points, I beg of you

See above, re: flushing.

5) Slim down to three episodes a week

The Block NZ is so bloated you could stick a pin in its arse and watch it fly around the room. Four episodes each week equals four and a half hours of recaps, recaps of recaps, and pointless fillers like ‘Stacey’s 5 Beauty Tips in 5 minutes’ (“If you don’t have your brows on, how does anyone know you have the attitude that you do?”). Like a gold feature wall, less is definitely more.

6) Switch up the judges 

I raised my own attitude-filled brows at the inconsistent feedback from judges Lizzi Whaley and Jason Bonham this season. Imagine if there was a balanced judging combo of a design expert, a real estate expert and a building expert, because a week’s worth of reno shouldn’t come down to whether or not the judges like the tiny deer print on the wall (RIP, Bambi).

7) Diversify the contestants

May 2020 bring us some inter-generational couples, LGBTQI+ couples, maybe even a celebrity couple (Angel and Brett for a MAFS/Block mash-up, please and thank you).

8) Create an air of mystery 

Listen, we can survive without sitting through ‘Common Lobby and Stairwell Week’ or ‘Hallway, Entrance and Laundry Room Week’. Let’s just pretend a bunch of fairies came in and transformed these spaces overnight, shall we?

9) No more Block Collective

Calling a Block Collective to say no more Block Collective. Moved, seconded, motion passed.

10) Make the show shine again

It’s a shitty old world, so let’s bring back the joy in watching eight strangers work their arses off for ten weeks straight in the hope of winning some cold, hard cash. Or, as The Feelers’ James Reid sang in his epic appearance this year, is this as good as it gets?

Keep going!