What did we just watch? Ben Cousins – Coming Clean

At no point in your rambling, incoherent response were you even close to anything that could be considered a rational thought. Everyone in this room is now dumber for having listened to it. I award you no points, and may God have mercy on your soul.

The Principal adjudicating Billy Madison’s Academic Decathlon

Despite having five days unfettered access to Ben Cousins, Channel Seven’s special on the fallen Brownlow medallist proved to be little more than a giant waste of everybody’s time. Belligerently unwilling to go beyond the superficial or salacious, and randomly jumping back and forth between its subject matter, the final product was a hot mess.

Despite its ridiculous sense of self-importance, Coming Clean failed on almost every measure of good television. Neither a hard-hitting expose or even a mildly probing profile piece for the most part it failed to deliver any kind of message at all. The overwhelming laziness of the production best summed up by the fact that its graphics spelt John Worsfold’s name wrong, at one point referring to the West Coast icon as John “Woosha” Worsfeld.

While Cousins himself was evasive and monosyllabic at times in his answers, the fault for the trainwreck must lie at the feet of interviewer Basil Zemplas. In a program that was ostensibly meant to be Zemplas interviewing Cousins, there is grass growing around Australia that is more interesting than there interactions with each other. Just how big a failure this was is clear with the programs most interesting soundbites coming from conversations between Cousins and the show’s producers.

Unfortunately, before we would have the opportunity to realise something interesting was aired, the show would leap to footage of inane conversations between Cousins and the likes of Nic Nat and Nat Fyfe. While Nic Nat did come the closest of anybody on the show of making a statement of any kind, these vignettes did little more than make an already incoherent program seem more disjointed.

Perhaps they were designed as nothing more than a distraction from Cousins disturbing reactions to his arrests and imprisonment as a result of breaching restraining orders. While Zemplas was like a dog with a bone when it came to questions of drug use, he was much less dogged around the subject of domestic violence. In fact, he spent more time on his cross-promotional chat with Lynne McGranger than on this subject.

This was all the more bewildering given some of Cousins bizarre rants. The most concerning involved his self proclaimed threats to police officers. Referencing his determination and single-mindedness he promised ‘carnage’ and that ‘blood will be spilled’ if restraining orders continued to prevent him from seeing his children.

In the end, it is hard not to be frustrated by the lost hour and a half spent watching Coming Clean. Infrequently entertaining while sharing very little new information I feel we are all a little dumber for having watched it.

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