Is it voyeurism? Do we want to live vicariously through the lives portrayed on TV? Or is it tall poppy syndrome?

Emergency Australia: A team of real-life medical heroes fight to save patients suffering life-threatening injuries, in one of Australia's biggest and busiest emergency hospitals. BELOW: Magda Szubanski hosts the latest version of The Weakest Link.

Emergency Australia: A team of real-life medical heroes fight to save patients suffering life-threatening injuries, in one of Australia's biggest and busiest emergency hospitals. BELOW: Magda Szubanski hosts the latest version of The Weakest Link.

By Vickii Byram

REALITY TV has certainly elevated the average viewers' voyeurism to new heights.

But we are not content to spy on the antics of those thrown into instant marriages on Married at First Sight, or into a house or remote location where players must betray each other at all costs to win - Big Brother and Australian Survivor.

It seems we also love to see people fail on quiz shows. Come on, admit it, you much prefer to see the chasers win over the contestants on The Chase, and for the counters to teeter on the edge of the shelves instead of falling into the drop zone on Tipping Point. And for Eddie McGuire to goad contestants into changing their minds on Millionaire Hot Seat, only to be told they were right in the first place.

Meanwhile on Have you Been Paying Attention?, it's more fun when the players make fun of host Tom Gleisner's age, Sam Pang's ethnicity, and Ed Kavalee's commercials than when they get the answers correct. While on Hard Quiz Tom Gleeson takes great delight in ridiculing the contestants' strange category choices and sending them out the door when they score the lowest.

What a joy it is to hear Magda Szubanski tell the "nincompoops" who are voted off by their fellow team members - "You are the Weakest Link, Goodbye", taking up the mantle of the late Cornelia Francis on The Weakest Link.

Of course there are the supreme dating games - The Bachelor, The Bachelorette, Love Island, Beauty and the Geek, Bachelor in Paradise, and Farmer Wants a Wife - wherein the poor schmucks in need of love put themselves through tortuous dates while hoping to not get rejected by some Adonis or Aphrodite who really ought to be able to find their own date.

Surely we watch these to pick the losers, see who storms off, find the schemers and watch the tears fall. Or perhaps to barrack for our faves and bet on who the winners will be.

Then there are those shows which feature so-called celebrities, who mostly are contracted to the network that screens them, or are former sports stars, or these days - people who have become celebrities by branding themselves as social influencers.

Think I'm a Celebrity Get Me Out of Here, Celebrity Apprentice, Celebrity SAS Australia, and Dancing With the Stars - and you get the picture. Let's face it, it's always a hoot seeing celebs out of their comfort zones trying not to make fools of themselves.

After all, we Australians adhere to our tall poppy syndrome like limpet mines. If anyone dares to become that overused word "iconic", in their sphere of operation, we live to tear them down.

The ultimate voyeur's paradise must be watching the poor saps nabbed on Border Patrol, and RBT. Can there be such unconvincing liars trying to cross our borders? Are there that many stupid numskulls willing to risk theirs and every other driver of the roads lives by drinking and driving? The answer is obviously yes, and it makes for excellent entertainment as we yell at the television telling them how lame their excuses are.

Are we ghoulish because we like real-life first responder programs like Emergency, Paramedics and Ambulance Australia? Well speaking for myself, some of the callouts are funny because people attempt things they obviously shouldn't and end up needing medical assistance.

OMG, I could go on about other shows where people try in vain to win something - The Block, The Voice, Australia's Got Talent, Holey Moley, Ultimate Tag, Ninja Warriors - and mostly fail, because there is always just one winner, but I've run out of space. Now I'm in trouble.