Reality TV is so hot right now, and we all love a good villain to give drama the extra juice. There have been calls for a while now that producers need to take more responsiiblity for the subsequent bullying the contestants go through – and now, this has been taking to a whole new level with Channel 7.
Channel 7 just got their ass handed to them by the NSW Workers Compensation Commission after House Rule’s contestant Nicole Prince was portrayed as the season’s ‘villain’, and this sets a huge precedence for reality TV stars.
So, What Actually Happened With Nicole On House Rules?
The pair complained about bullying and bad treatment on camera, and said that the producers then threatened to portray them even more negatively if they kept complaining. They also complained about the bullying from strangers online and in person after the episode aired, and Nicole said she couldn’t get a job because everyone thought she was a bully and didn’t want to hire her.
Nicole filed for compensation, citing the psychological damage the show caused her – she said after the episode air she felt devastated and worthless and wanted to kill herself. She started drinking to cope with her psychological injury. Her worker’s comp claim in May 2017 said she suffered from adjustment disorder, anxiety disorder, depressed and PTSD caused by Channel 7’s bullying.
What Did Channel 7 Do?
Nicole claims that the the bullying was “not only condoned by the producer, but it was aggravated, even encouraged by them.”
Channel 7’s insurer denied liability twice, once after Nicole sent her claim and again after a review. Their justification was that Nicole was never an actual employee of Channel 7 – she was just an independent contractor of some kind. That’s a pretty standard scapegoat for employee rights – no employment = no dramas.
They also argued that she hadn’t really performed any kind of service to them. Which is wacky because then wtf were they paying her for?!
The crazy part is that Nicole, along with all the other reality stars, had to sign a contract that specifically states that she is never allowed to refer to herself as having an employee relationship with Channel 7, and that she is not allowed to any worker’s benefits or compensation. Her lawyers argued this was an attempt to shut down any workers rights she would have, which is huge.
So Why Are We Totally Freaking Out About This?
So here’s the thing: Nicole actually won her compensation claim. Her lawyers argued that you could hardly call her an independent contractor because she had no specific skills in renovation or reality TV. So what was she doing? She was providing a service by actually being on the reality TV show. Her lawyers argued that without her and other contestants, there is no reality show. So you can’t really say they don’t bring anything to the table.
Guys, this is HUGE.
Reality TV producers have been getting away with manipulating and abusing contestants for years, all in the name of quality entertainment. They’ve bullied and villainised every day people in order to turn over a profit, and we as an audience eat that up. We love drama, as seen from the ratings, no matter how fucked up or unethical it is. Everybody loves having someone to hate, but now we’re moving into a whole new era of responsibility.
The judge on Nicole’s case called out Channel 7 for all their controlling behaviour, but one of the most astounding things he said was something as simple as Facebook comments.
“I find it extraordinary, in circumstances where the respondent was made aware by the applicant of hateful comments posted on its social media platforms, that it did not take steps to either remove those comments or to close the comments on its own posts,” he said.
This is going to have crazy impacts on reality TV shows – it means they can’t get away with bullying contestants for ratings anymore. How much do you want to bet that past reality TV villains are now lawyering up?
Honestly, watching these big channels squirm and splutter as they try to defend their behaviour is way more satisfying than watching a random girl get bullied. I’ll take uncomfortable villainous corporations any day.
Image Sources: Seven Network, GIPHY