The usual low-rent reality rubbish, Back With the Ex takes a borrowed concept in the same old unsavoury directions.
Seeing as Netflix seem to be in the market for Australian reality shows these days, it shouldn’t come as much of a surprise to see Back With the Ex debut on the streaming giant today. Another import from the sunnier, happier, but seemingly no less idiotic climes of Oz, this is the kind of relationship-based reality show that I suspect lowers our collective intelligence as a species.
The premise is simple and, I suppose, kind of compelling. It asks what you might do if you were given a second chance at a failed relationship; how things might go differently with the benefit of the time, space and maturity you didn’t have on the first go. It’s intriguing because most of us have felt that way at least once, and idly wondered if things might have been better had we navigated life’s challenges slightly differently. In Back With the Ex, four couples get to find out – kind of.
The circumstances of the break-ups and desire for reconciliation are all slightly different, even though most of the couples are similarly-aged (they all also have something else in common, if you can spot what that is.) Some have been estranged from their former partners for just a few years; the older couple haven’t seen one another for 28, and were only together for a couple in the first place. There’s lingering resentment, clashes in expectation, and flagrant made-for-TV manipulation, as is to be expected.
The dates in Back With the Ex start innocuously enough – dinner, drinks, etc. – and then take a turn for the exploitative when the couple are bundled into five-star accommodation with a spa and champagne and other romantic adornments. The will-they-won’t-they dilemma drives the whole show, but it’s difficult to care when the circumstances feel so manufactured.
And that’s the problem, I suppose. Most relationships end for good reason, and while people are of course capable of enough change for a second attempt to work out, it’s a bit naïve to expect it – much less on television, where the rules of regular life don’t apply, and the desire for reconciliation comes along with a desire for 15 minutes of fleeting fame. Back With the Ex is, like all shows of its kind, worthless detritus that has little or nothing to say about human beings beyond their endless capacity to behave stupidly – as though we needed any more proof of that.
Jonathon is the Co-Founder of Ready Steady Cut and has been Senior Editor and Chief Critic of the outlet since 2017.