Reality TV

OPINION: Reality TV stars who gaslight and why it needs to STOP

'Often they are people who themselves have been belittled and will often have someone prominent in their lives who belittled them in some way.'
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Bachelor in Paradise is supposed to be the sweet sorbet palette cleanser after the acidic toxicity that was Married at First Sight.

But as the season continues on, we’re beginning to think that it’s not the calm break in Fiji we so desperately needed.

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In fact, a very strong pattern is emerging in these reality TV shows as of late, and it’s everything to do with how these people gaslight the hell out of each other.

If you’re not familiar with the term, gaslighting means to manipulate someone by psychological means into doubting their own sanity.

And on Tuesday’s episode of BIP, Bill Goldsmith vehemently denied trying to sleep with Florence Moerenhout on an overnight date in Paradise, something that she says he 100% did.

While we didn’t see the exchange directly, it was obvious that a lot more was said between the pair, particularly when Flo was left in a flurry of tears after she confronted Bill.

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Bill and Flo had it out after Bill denied trying to sleep with her. (Source: Network Ten)

“Bulls- -t Flo, I never said that,” Bill raged during their heated argument.

“You’re so malicious that you f—ing want to make bulls–t up to try and get in the way because I didn’t give you a rose.”

“You said it, it’s a quote!” Florence yelled back before adding, “You’re unbelievable; you’re actually unbelievable! You’re actually gonna stand here laughing?”

“You’re such a f—ing c–t, I can’t believe it!”

WATCH NEXT: Bachelor in Paradise’s Bill denies trying to sleep with Florence

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Twitter was set alight with fans accusing the mechanical engineer of gaslighting the Dutch beauty.

After some severe backlash, Bill has since come out and apologised for his behaviour on the show.

“Looking back on my time in paradise, I’d like to think I’d handle the same situation a lot differently,” he wrote on an Instagram post on Wednesday afternoon.

“I was navigating my way through a range of emotions in an environment like no other on this planet. I’d like to whole heartedly apologise to @florencealexandras for speaking about her like I did, no one deserves that. Every single one of us were in Fiji for our own reasons Whether that was the experience, love, relationships, money, opportunities or business either way, no judgment from me 💕🌴[sic].”

Bill apologised on Instagram for his behaviour. (Source: Instagram/bill.michael.goldsmith)

Apology or not, we still have a serious question for producers of all of these shows?

How is it OK to keep showing this behaviour on prime time TV?

Sure it lends a hand to bringing some “drama” to the show – but at what cost?

And Channel 9’s juggernaut, Married at First Sight, was obviously no better.

We had Mike Gunner, a perennially single 44-year-old, who consistently made his wife Heidi Latcham apologise to him when it was usually his fault.

Mike Gunner and Heidi Latcham on the set of Married at First Sight. (Source: Channel 9)

And then there was Susie Bradley.

How could we forget her tumultuous relationship with Billy Vincent? Our sweet and sensitive Billy, who was made to feel worthless at every turn.

Remember when Susie blew up at her husband for “fibbing”?

“You really hurt me the way you were before,” Susie said after he ended up being the one to apologise.

“You need to make a conscious commitment not to bulls— about anything. Ever.”

Umm… excuse me, Susie? No, thanks.

Billy was gas lighted by Susie for “lying”. (Source: Channel 9)

Concerned about this, we spoke to Clinical and Health Psychologist Amanda Gordon to discuss exactly why Billy felt the need to back down and apologise to Susie.

“Well it all boils down to a lack of self-confidence,” Professor Gordon said.

“He may have had an experience in his past which has knocked his confidence a bit and so people like that are led to believe that maybe it is always their fault.”

“Maybe these types of people grew up in an environment where they were blamed and told it was their fault and then grew up not knowing their own reality – which is why they are prepared to accept other people’s criticisms beyond what is reasonable.”

So why do people like Bill and Susie feel the need to belittle those around them?

“Often they are people who themselves have been belittled and will often have someone prominent in their lives who belittled them in some way,” Professor Gordon told Now To Love.

One thing’s for sure, this behaviour is terribly toxic and quite frankly, absolutely appalling – and it begs the question – should the networks re-evaluate what makes good TV?

We think so.

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