When did TV cruel become the new cool?
STOP the bloody arguing!
That is what I wanted to shout at the television the other night while I was flipping between My Kitchen Rules, Married at First Sight and I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here!
More than ever the three 7.30pm reality shows are looking to conflict in a desperate attempt to boost ratings.
I used to enjoy I'm A Celebrity … Get Me Out of Here! as a fun alternative. The banter between hosts Dr Chris Brown and Julia Morris was witty and there was a weird joy to seeing B-grade stars covered in maggots or elephant dung.
But this year's show has turned sour for me. I was intrigued by Bernard Tomic during his very short stay but Anthony Mundine was an angry, divisive, ranting dud.
Talk about negative energy - but I'm sure Mundine was selected by Ten precisely because he would be a magnet for controversy - he'd create a rumble in the jungle.
Mundine's rancour seems to have infiltrated the rest of the campmates because last night Jackie Gillies and Danny Green were going hammer and tongs. Green had created some sort of alter ego comedy character who was a spiritualist. Gillies, a self-professed psychic, thought Green was taking the piss. Game on.
Except that for me it was game off. It was time to change channels. The fun has gone from Ten's reality show. I doubt I'll watch again.
The thing I loved most about I'm a Celeb last year was the unlikely friendship between Steve Price and Nazeem Hussain. I didn't tune in because I wanted to see them tear strips off each other, I wanted to see them find common ground, and the fact that they did was one of the best things about the show.
I was a fan of the first season of Married at First Sight and it was wonderful to see Zoe Hendrix and Alex Garner find love.
But boy has it been a law of diminishing returns since then. Relationship "experts" John Aiken, Trisha Stratford and Mel Schilling have batted zero - no other couples have stayed together - which severely dents the show's credibility.
This year's contestants don't seem to have any real desire to find love. I'd bet most of them are simply on the show because of some deluded idea they might be able to kickstart an entertainment career. Fifteen minutes of fame indeed.
Last night's dinner party was a full-on bitch-fest. Davina was intent on stealing Tracey's husband, Dean. Dean was cheating on Tracey with Davina and Davina's partner, Ryan, was oblivious. Troy is a grandstander. His partner is Ashley but photos have already surfaced of him with Carly.
I couldn't keep up with the betrayal and skulduggery and the quarrelling. Twenty minutes in and I needed a headache tablet.
And don't even get me started on My Kitchen Rules. Channel 7 promotes it as a cooking show but we know that is crap. Instead, it is all about the "characters" - moulded into "goodies" (yay) and "baddies" (boo hiss) by judicious editing.
This year it is the "Russians" - Olga and Valeria - (cue Dschinghis Khan's Moscow on the soundtrack) who have been put on the show to stir the pot. "We're not here to make friends," Olga has said.
Surely watching all of this non-stop fighting can't be good for the soul - yet add up the ratings and around three million Australians are watching these programs each night.
I reckon that is one of the reasons that Seven's telecast of the Winter Olympics is rating so well. There is another group of viewers who relish the chance to see top-flight athletes, including medallists like Aussie Scotty James and US teenager Chloe Kim, do their best. Talk about uplifting.
So why are so many people attracted to divisive television? Is it to somehow feel superior to these whackers? Is it perversely entertaining to watch a bunch of nobodies lash each other?
Most people prefer to live their lives without conflict and abuse, so why would anyone turn to it for entertainment?
Does it make people forget their own real-life arguments at home?
Who knows - but one thing is for certain - after a time when good-hearted family entertainment ruled, the commercial networks have re-embraced the nasty.
That is to everyone's detriment.
When you sit down in front of the television at 7.30pm tonight ask yourself - 'do I really want to watch this shit?'