It may sound bizarre at first, but the concept of watching other people watching TV and sharing their commentary has become a popular phenomenon, thanks to Gogglebox Australia. This week the show returns with key changes to the cast, where we'll meet new faces and bid adieu to some familiar ones.
The first episode will be dedicated to Di Kershaw, who recently passed away after being on the couch with her husband Mick for the past 15 seasons of Gogglebox.
Viewers will also be introduced to a new Brisbane household in Season 16, as Kevin Yow Yeh, Bob Smith, Jared Hutchison, and Mia Strasek-Barker join the Gogglebox family. The four young TV enthusiasts are the first Indigenous people on the show, and hope that their involvement encourages further First Nations representation on screen, while also teaching the rest of Australia about their culture.
"We are using Blackfella terms and Aboriginal English slang as well," Strasek-Barker tells The Daily Telegraph.
"So there might be some terms and words the general public haven’t heard before, so hopefully there is an education around some of the slang which is used."
The Yuwaalaraay/Gamilaraay woman, who also has Slovenian heritage, is a Reconciliation Action Plan Manager at the University of Queensland library. She met Yow Yeh and Hutchison at a university "where they bonded over robust discussions about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander community politics and their united passion for social justice".
"I reckon we bring a really unique and fresh perspective because there hasn’t been a First Nations family on Gogglebox before," he tells The Daily Telegraph.
Yow Yeh has been in a relationship with Smith for almost five years and together they have two children whom they co-parent and raise alongside their mum. Smith is a Kamilaroi man with ancestral ties to St George Queensland and was raised on Mununjali Country (Beaudesert Queensland). He met Strasek-Barker and Hutchison through his partner.
That leaves us with the final member of the group, Hutchison, who is a Kalkadoon, Undumbi and South Sea Islander man. He actually lives with his partner of 10 years, Preston, but has made himself at home on his friends' couch when it comes to watching TV together.
In Australia, there’s still a lot of work to be done to see more authentic representation on our screens, particularly when it comes to reality TV. Over the last few years, the industry has begun to embrace more Indigenous peoples and their stories — from Brooke Blurton on The Bachelorette to Mindy Woods on Masterchef, and we're happy to see that Gogglebox finally features a First Nations family.
The new additions to the show join a very entertaining Gogglebox cast that's known for being diverse — in the hopes of relating to the different households watching across Australia.
The cast includes The Delpechitra Family, married couple and grandparents Lee and Keith, Greek best friends Anastasia and Faye, family of four The Daltons, three generations of The Silbery women (Emmie, Kerry, and Isabelle), best mates Adam and Symon, surfing pals Milo and Nic, foodie siblings Tim and Leanne, and Lebanese couple Matty and Sarah with their three-year-old son Malik and their good friend Jad.
Gogglebox Australia Season 16 premieres Wednesday, August 24 at 7:30pm On Foxtel a Thursday, August 25 At 8:30pm on Channel 10 and 10 Play.