reality tv

Crying at Australia's Got Talent is our new national pastime.

Stop it, Australia’s Got Talent.

Just stop it.

I am too cool for this. Too cynical. Too smart.

I know how reality TV works. I know that it looks like these talented types just rocked up to Luna Park last week and wandered onto the stage to busk in front of famous people, when in actual fact they’ve been talent-scouted and auditioned and stage-designed and rehearsed to within an inch of their lives before the warm-up guy shuffles off and Ricki-Lee Coulter ushers them on from the wings.

But look, Ricki, I don’t care. You can manipulate me all you want. Because the payoff is sublime.

I’m currently spending several hours a week sobbing on the lounge in front of Australia’s Got Talent and it feels so good.

This week, I was a puddle when the Find Your Voice choir pulled out The Lion Sleeps Tonight.

Last week I was dead-set losing it when we met Jayden Appleby. He’s 17, from Tasmania and has had a hard life. He didn’t want to make eye-contact with anyone when he sang All I Want, but he was bloody sublime.

When the Wollongong dancers, VPA Studios, came on and flipped all over the shop with words of body positivity scrawled on their legs… well, I might have even uttered the words, ‘Their mums must be so proud”.

Who even am I?

And don’t even start me about the Hummingsong Choir, 350 women raising their voices for domestic violence survivors. Floods.

It’s got so bad that my nine-year-old daughter looks at me as soon as the sob-story starts. “Oh dear, Mum’s going to lose it,” she mutters, rolling her eyes.

But I’m not alone. Australia’s Got Talent is rating. And, like Ninja Warrior and Lego Masters before it, is proving that in this “golden age” of high-quality, uber-cool streaming content there’s a place for Network TV, and it’s right here, in family viewing.

There’s something about these well-made shows – the candy-floss styling of AGT, all olde-worlde vaudeville with a dash of circus magic, is perfection – that feels so reassuring right now. So perfect for the times.

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Out there, there’s Trump and there’s the climate crisis and wage stagnation and the state parliament’s arguing about choice, and I’m sure I’m making all the wrong choices about parenting and money and I know I’m eating too much sugar… But in here, on the couch, with my blanket and my kids and some guy from The Bachelorette setting himself on fire, the world is a safe space.

The judges – Manu Feildel, Lucy Durack, Nicole Scherzinger and Shane Jacobson – are the kind of weirdly mismatched hodge-podge (who would have put a Pussycat Doll with Kenny?) that somehow works like a candy-cane dream. No one’s bitching and sniping and walking out. They’re overtly wanting everyone to do their best. They know and we know that they’ve sat through 25 hip-hop dance crews this week, but they’re going to find something nice to say to this latest lot, because damn it, they’re trying hard.

The acts are gloriously diverse – multicultural and all-ages and inclusive of ability and socio-economic background – and, sigh, I could go on, but this is getting embarrassing, because I’m crying again.

Sometimes, we just need to sob on the couch and let a soaring chord arrangement and a face that would never usually get on primetime do its magic.

Like Paul Kaperleris singing Rise Up.  I challenge you not to weep.

Yes, yes. Tomorrow we’ll be back to The Handmaid’s Tale and The Loudest Voice and the must-see, bleak brilliance of When They See Us.

But tonight there’s Ricki-Lee’s sequin jackets and infectious pride. There’s a teeny-tiny kid telling terrible jokes. A man painting portraits with his penis. A new mum pole-dancing against a holographic clock.

And some of the uncoolest things of all – ambition, dedication and raw emotion.

And me crying on the lounge at the most Hopepunk show on TV right now.

Excuse me, I just need to find a tissue.

Do you have an “uncool” favourite TV show? Let us know in the comments.


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