TVNZ tried to take on rival Three in the scandal stakes this year with its latest reality offering Heartbreak Island – but as the series wrapped up this week, it’s fair to say the series failed to fire.
Aside from early outrage from parents concerned about inappropriate ads, Heartbreak Island just didn’t deliver the headlines or audience of shows like Married at First Sight or The Bachelor.
Inspired by the wildly popular international franchise Love Island, our homegrown version had some fatal flaws. We’re not ready to write off the series yet – but here are five key lessons producers need to learn before returning to Heartbreak Island.
1. No more challenges
Let’s not sugar coat this: Everyone thought the challenges sucked and found them hard to understand. Even the contestants didn’t seem to know what was happening.
The challenges were too complicated and far too reminiscent of Fear Factor.
“The focus was WAY too much on challenges, from the outset,” said one disgruntled viewer we spoke to.
Twists during eliminations like the ‘power play’ and ‘passion play’ options were a clever way to add scandal but left viewers confused.
As one viewer said: “If we wanted to watch a show full of challenges, we’d watch Survivor. But in reality, not even Survivor had THAT many challenges. And they are so complicated it takes Mark and Matilda half the show to explain them.
2. No more Matilda
Bless her dear little Bachelor heart, Matilda Rice really gave this hosting gig a good crack, but she was totally unsuited for this show.
The 27-year-old took to social media during the first week to protect herself from haters.
People began to troll ‘Matootles’ on social media for her role in the show after a controversial scene saw two contestants labelled the “least popular”.
Rice took to Instagram at the time to ask viewers to stop sending her angry messages.
“People need to understand that I was doing a job …I was there contracted and paid to do a job, and I did that job,” she said.
Mark Dye, on the other hand, was born for the role and should have hosted the season alone – or with someone like Nazanin Khanjani.
3. More time on the island
The lifespan of the show was over before it had even started. There wasn’t any time for people to start ‘falling in love’ and truly bond when they had only spent a few days together on the island.
Next time around, the contestants should be given a solid two-week “bedding in” period, where they are left to drink and hook up before the games being.
Likewise, with The Disruptors. Four new contestants arrived mid-season but two of them were sent home by the end of the episode. Viewers didn’t even know their names.
4. More sex!
Heartbreak Island Uncut was sold as a naughty, ‘after dark’ styled show played out at 9.30 on Friday nights.
But the few people we found who made the effort to watch it said it was just a recap of the week’s episodes. In fact, they described it as “one boring, long, drama-free episode with little sex or scandal”. Lame!
5. Figure out what the hell it is
Overall, the general consensus from viewers was that the show didn’t actually know what it was.
It was a confused mash-up of Big Brother, Survivor, Fear Factor and Love Island.
But perhaps the best advice we can offer is this, from one straight-shooting viewer: “Just spend the cash to buy the Love Island format – it’s the ONLY WAY.”