The PP Trash Pile: Our Favourite Bad TV

When the world is falling to pieces, sometimes you need to escape into something ridiculous. The Pantograph Punch team brings you our favourite bad TV.

Whatever might be said of us, we, the wāhine at The Pantograph Punch don’t spend all our spare time reading radical literary writings and academic journal articles. When Covid-19 confines us to our bedrooms and Trump is finally ousted but still won’t leave, in between publishing pieces on radical movements and racism and all the things, sometimes we just need to escape into something ridiculous, like hotties at the beach.

Pantograph Punch editors Faith Wilson, Ataria Sharman, Hannah Newport-Watson and staff writer Lana Lopesi bring you our favourite bad TV.


Love Island

Home from the hospital with my first baby, sleeping fewer than three hours in one go – the nights were a combination of disorientating cries, shit and me just trying to keep my tear ducts from filling. I had a hellish time breastfeeding, and it was the TV glow at around 11pm that got me through. When I found Love Island UK Season 1 on TV 2, it was already a few episodes in, but it offered me the ultimate moment of escape. I was newly 22, and maybe a part of me wanted to imagine I could have had a similar early-20s experience to theirs, talking about ‘grafting’ and being ‘proper muggy’ in a luxury Spanish villa.

The show’s premise is absolute trash – a bunch of exceptionally hot people in their early 20s spend summer together and get ‘coupled up’ in the idea that they might find love and also win a huge chunk of cash. Throughout the month or so new hot people get dropped in; people who might have a better connection with those in the villa or, in true reality-TV-style, people who just stir shit. People get dumped along the way until, eventually, one couple wins a sweet bag of cash. Regardless of how you intellectualise it, it’s pure, unadulterated trash.

Love Island still has a big place in my heart. Too trash to be on TV proper and now streaming on Neon, this last few weeks Love Island USA Season 2 has been my form of escape while writing my PhD. Some people escape to music, I escape to washboard abs and people acting like their summer in the villa is the cause of some major ontological shifts. It’s called balance, don’t judge me. – LL



Nobody has been allowed to see the King in weeks. Corpses are seen being carried from the palace compound. The Queen Consort is pregnant, and if she gives birth to a son he will displace the Crown Prince as the heir to the dynasty...

If someone had told me a few months ago that I’d escape from the stress of living through a global pandemic by watching a South Korean zombie horror series set in the dynastic 16th century, I would have raised an eyebrow and laughed. Kingdom is gruesome, melodramatic and at times just silly but, honestly, I love it.

My favourite character is, of course, Seo-bi, the smart and ever-serious physician who will solve the mystery of the plague bringing horror and destruction to the people. A perfect but unrealised romantic interest for our earnest, troubled hero, Prince Lee Chang. – HNW


Masterchef Australia

Masterchef Australia is, no shit, my favourite show. I used to watch this obsessively with my little sister Olive back in the day. She’d come over to my flat, and we’d lie in bed and binge-watch episodes on TVNZ On Demand. I got so obsessed I even tried to get Olive to create a ‘Mystery Box’ – IYKYK – for me to cook from, but her choices were way too left-field for my unrefined 20-year-old palate and brain. I like this show because there are literally so many episodes to a season and you can just sit in front of the telly and stream them one after the other, thinking that homemade pasta looks real easy, but it’s probably not.

The most recent season of Masterchef Australia is even better because, god forbid, there’s some fuckin’ diversity amongst the judges. By diversity I literally mean they’ve swapped three old Pākehā fullas for two other Pākehā fullas and an Asian woman (judge and host Melissa Leong, who I LOVE to bits). She’s beautiful, and actually cries real tears when contestants are eliminated and when Poh cooks Malaysian soul food. This is an incredibly small step forward – I’ve still never seen an Aboriginal guest judge or contestant in this show, and they just loooove using ‘Indigneous’ ingredients without EVER mentioning Indigenous people. Trash TV isn’t perfect babes, and I’m holding on to hope that these incremental steps might mean we get a bit of Blakness next season. – FW


New Girl

After finishing our usual anime series over Covid-19 lockdown (Hunter x Hunter, Haikyu!!, My Hero Academia and Demon Slayer), my partner and I decided to try New Girl on Netflix. Peppered with some decent but still base humour, it very quickly became our dinnertime on the couch binge. I found the main chick Jess super annoying, self-centred and downright weird at times, but she had a white girl charm with those big eyes that kept me coming back for more.

Maybe I wanted more because I really wanted Nick and Jess to get together. Their sexual tension became my whole reason for continuing to watch. It was like the catnip to each episode… will they finally get together this time? No. What about this episode? No. Of course, because it’s a sitcom, obstacles were always placed in the way – exes and rebounds. Like the time Jess lay in wait in Nick’s room, completely starkers and unaware that he had decided to bring a girl home with him. She hides by the side of the bed while Nick and the other girl are starting to get it on until caught awkwardly running to the door.

Sometime in Season 2, Jess and Nick got together, and after that I had no reason to watch anymore. Even though supposedly they break up again, I’m like meh I’m done. I’ve seen it, they’ve got together, now they get married and have kids (in my mind). Someone give me some recommendations for bad TV, I need something else. Actually, Love Island looks good. – AS

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The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

The Pantograph Punch publishes urgent and vital cultural commentary by the most exciting new voices in Aotearoa.

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