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Why is The Block NZ so damn white?

Property porn addict Ghazaleh Golbakhsh takes the premiere of The Block NZ out for a spin. 

Last night was the premiere of New Zealand’s sixth season of The Block NZ. It’s a franchise which I have previously managed to avoid, despite being addicted to property porn. As a complete newbie, I thought it was high time I took a chance on it. Here’s my first observation: it’s very white. Like fourth Jonas Brother white. Like loving La La Land white. Like “let’s buy a copy of Gwyneth’s GOOP mag, make kombucha and do crossfit” white.

The Block NZ teams for 2017

We open on host Mark Richardson, who looks like a dashing Roger Sterling in a suit but could be your angry uncle at Christmas when he’s in his shorts and last century’s Hawaiian shirt. Marky Mark explains that the selected teams have 12 weeks to restore a three level family home, complete with fancy roof terrace, in glamorous Northcote, Auckland. Turns out a whopping 4,500 teams applied this year, apparently still not enough to represent the fabulously diverse multicultural, multi-abled, multi-aged society we live in. Marky tells us of the incredibly lucrative prizes. All completed houses go on auction and the money made goes straight to the team. Plus the highest selling team gets even mo’ money!

Mo money, mo problems? The Block might be too vanilla for that reference.

Diagnosis: Rigamortis

Our selected teams arrive believing they’re just there for a medical test. Lo and behold, it’s all a prank to surprise them. So who are our lucky contestants?

Brothers-in-law Andy and Nate could clearly be mistaken for hipsters in an insurance ad aimed at millennials. Also, they’re from Hamilton. I once fell in love in a McDonald’s car park in Hamilton, but realised it was all a hallucination induced by some old yoghurt. Andy is a bona fide fireman and Nate looks like the kind of guy you’d take to a craft brewery and argue over whether pilsner is lager or not before violently making out (I am aware he is married with kids).

Next up chilling in a hot tub are best friends Yanita and Stace, who are described as “bubbly and vivacious” on Three Now’s website. Clearly, the poor sod who has to write these blurbs is not aware that most grown ass women prefer not be described in outdated stereotypes. They seem easy-going though and I’m rooting for Stace – the only non-blonde who will hopefully be like J-Lo and bring some much-needed ‘flava’ to this block.

Sweet Valley Ply

Third are identical twins, Ali and Julia, hailing from the big smoke. They remind me of my childhood obsession Sweet Valley High. I’m hoping Ali will be the Elizabeth to Julia’s Jessica. Like an 80s mullet, one will be all business whilst the other parties in the back. Perhaps a Bruce Patman type will take Jessica around the block in his Porsche with the number plate ‘1Bruce1’ and they can laugh at all the people who can’t afford the townhouses they’re renovating. I grew up in Northcote and I’ll be honest, the ‘Cote is glam at times, but you can’t kill its gangster vibes.

It’s not a coincidence that the neighborhoods chosen for all six seasons, par one, are known for their affluence. Auckland’s Takapuna, Belmont, Point Chev and Meadowbank are not exactly representative of a country where the average income is between $22-29 an hour. Clearly, in order to afford property and the subsequent renovations, you need to be in an area near beach cafes and golf clubs. If you want some kebab shops or karaoke bars, jog on peasant.

All white everything

Our final team hails from Christchurch. They are a team called Ling and Zing, which sounds like a magic act from Victorian England. Ling used to be a suspended ceiling installer, which is clearly the sexiest job to ever put on a CV. The both sport some impressive moustaches, and it’s obvious they’ll be an audience favourite.

First up, the teams get new cars courtesy of Honda. The chase starts as they drive to Whenuapai air force base. Inside a titillatingly dramatic airplane hanger, the first challenge with a series of different challenges is introduced. I thought building a house was the challenge? It’s starting to feel like What Now in the 90s, full of brightly coloured obstacle courses and a high chance of injury. “How many holes do you have to cut for the right key?” Asks Nate. Story of my love life mate.

Rock bottom

After what feels like a million ad breaks, we finally get to the houses and some much-needed drama. The twins don’t get to choose their house. They have to plead to the moustache brigade, Ling and Zing, to let them have their choice. Julia totally looks angry. Typical Jessica move. One hour in and nothing has been built or renovated. Like the dreams of my fellow arts graduates, hope is fading fast.

Next challenge: Design a gender-stereotyped room for a child. The guys get girl rooms. The girls get boy rooms. Hilarity ensues. One hour 25 minutes in and we finally get some plans going ahead to start building, but not before some middle-aged white dude in flannel makes a dramatic entrance. He is The Wolf. I have no idea who he is but he gets epic freeze frames with graphics like old school Batman. I’m kind of digging him.

The final minutes of the show are what I bloody well came here for. Planning, creating and building. The good stuff. The Block NZ, like pretty much every other property show, is pure fluff. It’s fun and mindless. It’s also there to make you want to buy and renovate property and then make you feel shit that you won’t be able to do either. But, for a show that aims to give everyday folk the pipe dream of making their mark on the property market, it seems they’re not interested in representing that many of us.


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