Now, the bougie beachside town will soon be home to the next generation of reality stars with the announcement that a new series — cringingly titled Byron Baes — will be landing on Netflix in the not-too-distant future, although the locals are really not too happy about it.
The show has not even begun production yet and already there is a petition circling to hashtag cancel the whole thing.
“Boycott Byron Baes Netflix Series by Refusing to Grant Filming Permits” has so far received almost 4000 signatures as it pleads for filming permits for the show to be denied.
Arguing that the show’s influencer concept would be a misrepresentation of the area, the petition’s creator, Tess Hall, said “We don’t want to be an Instagrammers’ paradise.”
“When it comes to Byron Bay, what we have seen about the show would shine a light on the town which doesn’t reflect our values and who we are as a community.”
The petition states Byron Bay “is a community experiencing significant challenges driven by influencer culture and rapidly shifting demographics of residents,” while it has been reported that several of Byron’s popular local businesses have denied requests to be featured in the reality series.
Netflix asserts that the series is a “love letter to one of the world’s most perfect playgrounds” and seems convinced that we should be excited by the idea of watching a bunch of Instagram influencers “living their best lives, and being their best selves.”
“It’s not just Chris and Zac’s backyard, it’s the playground of more celebrity-adjacent-adjacent influencers than you can poke a selfie stick at,” the official release reads.
“But PLOT TWIST: Don’t write these Baes off too quickly. There’ll be fights, flings and heartbreak; but beneath every perfect post is a very real desire not just for ‘likes’, but to be liked, dammit, for who you are.”
If you’re asking yourself why on earth we need this, I’ll just say: we probably don’t.
However, seeing as most reality television stars end up becoming influencers anyway, it was probably only a matter of time before someone cut out the middle man and just gave a bunch of selfie-snapping Instagrammers their own show.
The series is being produced by Eureka Productions with Co-CEO Chris Culvenor saying, “With a compelling cast, spectacular settings and some truly addictive drama, Byron Baes has all the binge-worthy ingredients.”
As for which influencers the show will star, Sydney Morning Herald had pegged model, Byron resident and former The Block contestant Elyse Knowles as a likely candidate and Love Island contestant Elias Chigros has also been mentioned.
One thing is for sure, the Byron residents who have been lamenting the increasing influx of tourists and traffic into their once-peaceful enclave, are horrified by the idea of camera crews and catfights taking over the streets and have called the project “tasteless” in addition to rallying around the petition.
Reaching out to The Feed several locals expressed their concern that the portrayal of their town on a reality series will disturb the serenity and drive long-term residents out as property prices inevitably skyrocket further.
One concerned citizen, Nick, said he was worried the series will turn his hometown into the “Jersey Shore”, complaining that “It went from everyone kind of walking to the lighthouse, soaking in the view, to people getting on their makeup and in their branded gear and taking selfies along the way.”
Another resident, Mandy Nolan, expressed a fear that the production would result in a worsening homeless crisis, telling The Feed, “There’s this shadow of poverty, of people with no influence and no voice in the community who are being pushed to the side despite having lived here for a long time.”
She continued, “We’re tired of this really shallow story being told over and over that only speaks to a privileged few that haven’t been there very long, that doesn’t speak to the history of the region or the First Nation story of the community.”
Defending the forthcoming series to The Sydney Morning Herald, Netflix’s director of content for Australia and New Zealand Que Minh Lu said that people find it easy “to write off those who have influencer lifestyles and careers” and pointed out that climate change activist Greta Thunberg is technically an “influencer.”
This may be true, but comparing an advocate for environmental justice to a group of people who pout for pocket money doesn’t exactly seem like the best way to get the Byron locals on board.
It seems Netflix didn’t just miss the mark when it comes to the type of influencer Byron Baes will be showcasing either, but also with the name of the show itself.
“I’ve never even heard anyone in Byron say the word ‘bae’,” Nick said. “It’s a parody from another planet.”
And with that, Nick just described every reality TV show, ever.