The Block is celebrating one of its most popular seasons ever. Picture: Channel 9
The Block is celebrating one of its most popular seasons ever. Picture: Channel 9

My 8-year-old has turned me into a reno diehard

FREE-TO-AIR television has been reduced to three genres: average Aussies renovating homes, average Aussies cooking things, and average Aussies dating terribly.

The Block is the most obnoxious example of the first category, pitting future Instagram influencers against each other in a home reno battle fuelled by McMuffins and soundtracked by the worst gym music imaginable.

This season - the show's 368th - has finally come to its "dramatic" conclusion - taking place on the site of a notorious St Kilda boarding house called The Gatwick.

The Gatwick - or "Gatty" to its mates - provided low cost accommodation for people who really needed it. Now its 66 rooms have been whittled down to five multimillion-dollar apartments with heated towel rails, gold baths and a feature wall that says "It's All Good" in neon pink when really, it's not good at all.

Who would watch something so crass?

The answer is me. Every single episode.

Hayden and Sara watch their apartment skyrocket on tonight’s auction finale.
Hayden and Sara watch their apartment skyrocket on tonight’s auction finale.

Somewhere between My Little Pony and Smiggle stationary, our eight-year-old daughter developed an obsession with The Block.

"I like the styling and the people in it and how they fix the apartments and you're annoying me now with these questions dad, please stop." That is a direct quote.

Apparently all her friends are into it too, which is ironic because in 20 years time the average house price could exceed the $6 million mark and the only thing they'll be renovating is a literal shoebox.

So I can only imagine these Block-related conversations are playing out in the schoolyard between games of downball and Instagram Story posts.

"How good was hallway week?"

"I know, right?"

"I can't believe Scotty and foreman Keith threatened to shut down apartment three over FFL."

(FFL means Finished Floor Level. Obviously.)

"You just don't cut corners on something as important as FFL."

The only acceptable acronym for an eight-year-old should be OMG, or on really extreme occasions FML. But thanks to The Block my kid could walk on to any building site, scoff a pie, and do a ResCode assessment without anyone blinking an eye. Maybe I should get her on the tools and finally get some ROI?

It’s highly unlikely my daughter’s generation will be able to enter the housing market, but that isn’t stopping her from becoming an expert in it. Picture: Channel 9
It’s highly unlikely my daughter’s generation will be able to enter the housing market, but that isn’t stopping her from becoming an expert in it. Picture: Channel 9

It's a real crossroads moment as a parent when your child develops a taste for something that goes against every fibre of your being. You either sit them down and explain how this thing they love is little more than an hour of product placement in search of a TV show, or you embrace this ghastly hour of gentrifitainment and turn it into a nightly bonding ritual between you and your child.

As parents in 2018, we're warned every nanosecond about the impact of screentime on tiny minds, but virtually all of my important childhood memories were forged in front of the box.

On Saturday nights we'd all come together to watch Australia's Funniest Home Videos, which was really just an excuse for me to indulge in my terminal Jo Beth Taylor crush and an excuse for my parents to maybe get through to a painfully awkward teenage boy.

We'd get Hungry Jack's (the Grill'd of 1994) and I'd maybe even tell my folks about my week at school in between Brashs commercials and some poor bloke copping a cricket ball to the groin. Which is oddly enough akin to the experience of watching The Block.

The sacrifices we make for our kids, right?

Darren Levin is a writer, editor and wannabe dad-fluencer based in Melbourne. Find him on Twitter and Instagram.



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