Over the past two decades, we've become used to seeing certain tropes play out on nearly every type of reality TV show.
When a new show premieres, it doesn't take long for at least one cast member to be given the 'villain edit' and thrown to the reality TV wolves. And with every new season, comes a new 'villain'.
Sure, becoming your season's villain guarantees more airtime, but the price paid for this exposure is steep.
For a brief period, you're collectively disliked by millions of strangers you've never met. The comment sections on social media posts are filled with vitriol about you. And the biggest publications in the country are writing opinions and think pieces about your behaviour.
Some reality TV villains will come out fighting and attempt to defend their character. They'll tell us they were given the 'villain edit', or claim their words were taken out of context, and they'll say we didn't see the real them onscreen.
Mostly, their words fall on deaf ears. It's hard to stop the bandwagon after millions of people have already jumped on it. And we've all seen the footage, after all.
'Villains' have no choice but to wait it out for the show to wrap up and for us to move on to the next show, and the next villain.
Months, or even years down the track, the villain might get the opportunity to talk about the impact the 'villain edit' had on their mental health and their ability to resume their normal lives. They might share some of the messages they received in their DMs, talk about how they're unable to get a normal job now, or how people still say hurtful things to them on the street.
The reality TV villain label is a hard one to shake. But usually, down the track, we're able to have a bit more empathy for them.
After all, we've seen this trope play out time and time again and with the benefit of time, we almost always see that whatever they did or said wasn't really that bad, after all.
That's why it feels so uneasy to see a completely different 'villain edit' play out on this season of The Block.
Husband and wife duo Kristy and Brett are a different breed of villain than what we're used to seeing on the wholesome renovation show.
For the first time in Block history, the couple have given themselves the villain edit. They've taken a leaf out of the Survivor playbook and have entered the competition with a strategic plan to throw off the other contestants.
Throughout the first two months of the season, we've seen the couple deliberately target the other teams on the worksite. They've accused other teams of getting 'special treatment' and breaking the rules. They've even admitted to 'sabotaging' Steph and Gian's work.
Along with Leah and Ash, they ganged up on Steph and Gian and then Eliza and Liberty — the couples who just happened to be sitting at the top of the leaderboard at that time.
Now, Kristy and Brett have openly admitted they're playing a game.
"Yeah, look, well, we did go in with the intention to ruffle feathers, stir the pot, and mind games are going to potentially come with that because it allows us to have them thinking about things other than their room,” Brett said during an interview with Today Extra.
“So that was our intended gameplay. So everyone did know that. I felt a little bit guilty because everyone was so nice that I was like, 'Hey, heads up. I've been talking a lot of crap on you'.”
“Someone had to be the villain, right?” Kristy added.
The couple told the show they're completely different in real life but they wanted to take on the villain label and "have some fun with it".
They then admitted that their behaviour is only going to get worse as the season continues. “Get ready for it because you haven't seen anything yet," Kristy said.
Like reality TV contestants who are given the villain edit against their will, the backlash to Kristy and Brett's behaviour has been swift. They've been labelled bullies and people have called for them to be booted from the show. Even diehard Block fans have said they've found it difficult to watch this season of the show.
It makes you wonder, months down the track, whether it will be worth it. While many Block contestants have gone on to start businesses in the home renovation and interior styling industries, will the same doors be opened for Kristy and Brett? Others have gone on to become ambassadors for brands and have made a healthy income out of sponsored posts. But will brands want to be aligned with self-confessed villains?
There's only about six weeks left of The Block, and then the teams' houses will go to auction. By the end of the year, people will have forgotten about most of the season.
But they will probably remember Kristy and Brett and their 'game plan'. And it feels like this time the villain label will be even harder to shake.