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The reality TV year is over and I, for one, am relieved. It’s bizarre to think that Survivor: All Stars and MasterChef: Back To Win were this year considering how much has happened since. And all of it now occupies a frankly disturbing amount of space in my brain.

COVID-19 swept into our lives, changing not only our day-to-day existence and plans to go to Thailand but the way TV is filmed. Sometimes the reality of living during COVID-19 even crept into our comfort watches. Take the latter half of MasterChef when the contestants couldn’t hug each other anymore, or the exact moment Bachelor Locky Gilbert and his potential life-partners found out they’d have to start virtual dating with the rest of us (ick).

It’s been an utterly chaos year for reality TV. Let’s take a look back on it, shall we, and marvel that we all survived.

Francesca And Australian Harry’s Entire Weird Journey On Too Hot To Handle

Hot singles from across the world came together expecting to hook up only to be sorely disappointed on one of our favourite Netflix reality shows Too Hot To Handle (see also: The Circle, Love Is Blind). The rules of play were that they were meant to form meaningful connections, minus that pesky sex stuff. Francesca Farago‘s journey was everything – getting with Harry Jowsey, punishing him for lying about who cracked onto who by hooking up with Haley Cureton, and then making him jealous with Kelz Dyke. They ended up together, even getting engaged with a Ring Pop during the reunion special, only to very publicly split in June. 

David Genat Pulling Off The Blindside To Beat All Blindsides On Survivor: All Stars

David Genat cemented his status as one of the all-time players of Survivor when he executed a flawless blindside on his arch-rival, Daisy Richardson. Even though Daisy was a member of his majority alliance, David held a grudge after she blindsided him on last year’s Champions vs. Contenders. So working covertly with the leader of Vakama’s minority alliance, Mat Rogers, David managed to flush out two immunity idols, save himself at Tribal Council and vote out Daisy. That’s king shit.

Honourable mention: Adventurer Locky Gilbert being announced as the 2020 Bachelor the day after his elimination aired, leaving his Survivor squeeze, Brooke Jowett, in the lurch.

MAFS’ David Cannon Used His TV Wife Hayley Vernon’s Toothbrush To Scrub Their Toilet

Who knew that the most revolting moment of reality TV would arrive so early in the year? Displeased with his TV wife, Hayley Vernon, who admitted to kissing fellow groom Michael Goonan one drunken night, David Cannon plotted his revenge, taking her toothbrush and using it clean the shit off their toilet. Apparently she kept using the grotty toothbrush for five days. The disturbing act meant the couple were the first in MAFS history to be sent home by the experts themselves, after Hayley declared she’d chosen to ‘Stay’ in the experiment to punish David.

Honourable mention: Mikey Pembroke claiming he had sex with Michael’s TV wife Stacey Hampton, and Stacey denying it to the bitter end.

Ben Ungermann Was Arrested During Filming For MasterChef: Back To Win

Ben Ungermann was arrested during filming for MasterChef: Back to Win in March for allegedly sexually assaulting a 16-year-old girl in Melbourne in February. He was reportedly removed from the series, but the scandal was only directly addressed on the show as a “personal matter.” Ben’s image was also axed from the opening credits and he was conspicuously absent during the Katy Perry episode, and you better believe fans noticed. Ben has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

Honourable mention: Katy’s spin as a guest judge, where she consistently broke the fourth wall.

Fan Fave Angela Clancy Was Allowed To Return To The Big Brother House After Being Voted Out

While the rebooted Big Brother was tepid at best, it did serve up one iconic reality TV contestant and one unforgettable moment – when queen bee Angela Clancy was voted out of the house by the other contestants, only to be sent to a secret bunker. There she lived a life of luxury and got to fuck with her fellow contestants, before she was sent back into the house and attempted to lead a coup against the “alpha” alliance. Sadly her strategic brain and the power of lip gloss didn’t keep her in the game as long as she deserved. All hail the queen.

Honourable mention: The fandom around hot Xavier Molyneux and his secret Instagram account.

Jamie Doran Started Sobbing Over The Potential Departure Of His “Best Friend” Timm Hanly On Bachelor In Paradise

Jamie Doran, now in the midst of legal proceedings against Warner Bros and Network Ten, started hysterically crying when Timm Hanly threatened to leave Paradise. Timm got called out for stirring the pot and couldn’t hack it, so decided he’d leave the whole experience, and Jamie just couldn’t imagine being in Paradise without him (wait, that’s what he also said about Brittney Weldon). Luckily Brittany Hockley convinced Timm to stay, but no one told Jamie that before he was halfway up the street with his luggage in tow.

Honourable mention: Alisha Aitken-Radburn and Renee Barrett throwing a ring Renee bought for Ciarran Stott into the sea.

The Voice’s Soma Sutton Sassed The Coaches And Said She Didn’t Even Want To Come On The Show

When Soma Sutton lost her Playoff against Stephanie Cole, she snapped at the coaches, asking if their feedback about her performance was even “genuine”. She complained that she didn’t actually want to come on The Voice at all and no one had taken the time to get to know her as an artist, not even her coaches over the course of the competition, Guy Sebastian and Kelly Rowland. Gotta love it when an evicted contestant demands answers.

Honourable mention: Kelly Rowland being so unimpressed by Jimi The Kween and Elishia Semaan‘s Playoff that she decided to drop both of them. 

Backup Dancers On The Masked Singer Were Diagnosed With COVID-19, Pushing Back Filming For The Grand Final By Weeks

Production on this year’s socially distanced The Masked Singer was shut down in August when seven dancers tested positive to COVID-19. The cast and crew, including host Osher Günsberg and the celebrity judges, were placed in self-isolation for two weeks, setting back filming for the finale. The finale was ultimately filmed across NSW, Victoria and New Zealand and spliced together, with the host and judges returning to their respective hometowns after lockdown and Urzila Carlson participating from hotel quarantine. 

Honourable mention: Lucy Durack as the Cactus singing “I Touch Myself” by The Divinyls, a song about wanking, during primetime.

Three Out Of Four Women Dumped Farmer Sam Reitano On Farmer Wants A Wife

After choosing four women to take home to his fruit farm in Innisfail,  Farmer Sam Reitano was brutally rejected by not one, not two, but three women, Kirsten Lyndon, Emily Rath and Sophie Pereira. That left just Riley Parkinson, whom he’d already friendzoned. To rub salt into the rejection wound, Sam’s nonno had just died, but Sam had decided to stay on the reality TV show nonetheless, albeit after Emily had rejected him but didn’t leave the show and before Sophie dropped her bombshell. Ouch.

Honourable mention: Madison Mackenzie yeeting off Farmer Harry Robertson‘s farm, only to return at the next whole group dinner party and make it all the way to his final two.

COVID-19 Reached The Bachelor Mansion, Shutting Down Production Before “Love In Lockdown”

The COVID-19 pandemic reached the Bachelor mansion this year. Osher Günsberg informed boring Locky Gilbert and his suitors about the rapidly escalating pandemic, and then, an episode later, told them all it was no longer safe to continue filming and everyone was sent home for virtual dating. When they returned to the mansion, the women had had a comparatively long time to establish an intimate texting relationship with the Bachelor, and headed off on lukewarm socially distanced dates, just like us plebs IRL. 

Honourable mention: Locky callously saying the big L-word to both his winner Irena Srbinovska and runner-up Bella Varelis.

Selling Sunset’s Chrishell Stause Found Out About Her Divorce Via Text Message

On Selling Sunset, Chrishell Stause revealed that her This Is Us actor ex Justin Hartley had told her he had filed divorce papers over the unnecessarily brutal medium of text message. Not only that, but within an hour the world knew, with the story of the couple’s breakup after just two years of marriage reaching the media. She said on the show that she felt “blindsided” by Justin’s move, saying she thought they’d still try to work on the marriage, while Justin warned people not to believe all the talk about his past relationship. Most of Chrishell’s Oppenheim Group colleagues rallied around her except Davina Potratz, who became Selling Sunset‘s #1 villain.

Baby Ben Bolton Delighting Viewers At Every Turn On Junior MasterChef

The 10-year-old from Bendigo won himself a slew of fans on Junior MasterChef, thanks to his love of bao buns from Albury in regional NSW, native ingredients and his scouts troop – even if he still hasn’t earned his cooking badge. Ben Bolton was described as the saviour of 2020, a sweet, food-loving angel (see: his Immunity Gong strategy to raid the pantry, then take himself to the safety of the gantry) who just wanted to make delicious dishes and new friends all at the same time. Ben is too pure for this world.

Honourable mention: Watching the judges interact with children and the impact that had on my ovaries.

US Bachelorette Clare Crawley Quitting The Season Weeks In And Being Replaced By Tayshia Adams

Clare Crawley quit The Bachelorette in the US 12 days into filming her season – which had already been postponed for the pandemic – when she decided she had found her man, Dale Moss. The couple got engaged and Clare was replaced by Tayshia Adams .She was left with Clare’s remaining 16 men as well as four new additions, chosen especially for her. You’ve got to respect Clare knowing exactly what she wanted and refusing to muck around.

Convicted Drug Smuggler Schapelle Corby Got A Surprising Redemption Arc On New Series SAS Australia

No one expected Schapelle Corby to be the early fan favourite of the gruelling celebrities-do-military-training reality TV series, SAS Australia, after her casting was widely panned when it was announced. But her vocal critics were silenced by her display of grit and vulnerability in the season premiere. While Schapelle didn’t make it past episode two due to her lack of physical fitness, she managed to craft a convincing redemption arc – bring on her inevitable turn on I’m A Celebrity…

Honourable mention: Swimmer James Magnussen being rejected for selection in the finale after completing the course.

Winner Pete Mann Dumped Bachelorette Sister Becky Miles Over FaceTime Just Days After Filming The Finale

In the most dog act of the 2020 reality TV season, one of the winners of The Bachelorette, Pete Mann called it off with Becky Miles within days of being chosen in the finale. Becky told media after the finale aired that she’d been broken up with over FaceTime, with Pete deciding he didn’t really feel much of a connection and didn’t want to give their relationship a go in the real world. It was heart-wrenching to hear, especially considering Pete had ample opportunity over the course of the show to admit he wasn’t really vibing it.

Honourable mention: Network Ten casting Elly Miles‘ former fuckbuddy Joe Woodbury, who made it all the way to runner-up.


I told you it was a massive year for reality TV. See you in 2021.