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September 27, 2021
Bad Habits, Holy Orders Vows to Go Global
By Chelsea Regan
Take a group of self-described “party girls,” who think they're off to the Big Brother house and its requisite popularity contest or Love Island to find some ill-advised romance, and drop them off at a convent—where there are no ruthless alliances to be made or men to attract. This is the basic concept of Bad Habits, Holy Orders, a format distributed by Keshet International that’s found global success despite—or maybe because of—how it defies certain tenets of the genre in favor of a genuinely fresh idea. Crackit Productions’ creative director, Elaine Hackett, who devised and produced the original format in the U.K. for Channel 5, was inspired to make the series after coming across an article claiming that there was a small uptick of young women contemplating life in a nunnery.
“I thought, wouldn’t it be quite intriguing to take [to a convent] some party girls who are quite materialistic, saying that they can’t find love, not understanding who they want to be, having disappointment in life, too much drinking, too much shagging, not enough loving, not enough understanding who they are,” says Hackett. “You take that trend—young women who are a bit lost—and you put them in an environment that has really strict rules. Would young women in today’s world, in society, actually go and be nuns? Those were the two worlds colliding. Would it work?”
Arriving at the convent with expectations of a vastly different reality TV experience adds to the fish-out-of-water culture clash that sets up the Bad Habits, Holy Orders format. The women “were packing miniskirts, stripper heels, bright lipstick, hairpieces, fabulous fingernails,” says Hackett. “They all thought they were going on a dating show. Then they came to this environment that was so different from a Big Brother house or a Love Island, where you [have to] get your body on the show, you [have to] get instant likes. You [have to] play a game, and it’s a game about success, making people within that environment like you instantly so that you’re not voted off. There was none of that for this format.”
But, the format does allow for all of the standard beats that fans of reality TV have come to expect, says Hackett, along with a bit more heart. “We knew there would be flare-ups, we knew that there would be tears, we knew that there would be emotional revelations,” she explains. “We knew some of the girls wouldn’t get on. We knew that there’d be a clash of cultures. But amongst all of that, what we hoped within this, is that there’d be a nurturing, an understanding, a sharing, an acceptance of these young women and what they wanted in their world and in their lives, from the nuns.”
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