In an old job I used to work a lot of night shifts, and discovered that the gods of late night TV were fickle. They’d occasionally bless you with a late night showing of some obscure movie or a repeat of a quality show, but often it was a wasteland of repeats, infomercials and tedium.
The best options were usually trashy TV- reality shows, light hearted documentaries or the soap operas. At 3am all you really want is something to keep you awake. Nothing too challenging or grim, ideally something fun and light. The two best channels for this were E4 and the now defunct BBC Three.
One personal favourite was Snog Marry Avoid?, which ticked the boxes- light, dumb, easy viewing. But last week I caught an old episode on TV.
It was awful.
I remember it being quite cheerful, jokey and fun. But watching it again it left an extremely unpleasant taste in the mouth.
For those unfamiliar with the show the premise is simple: People are brought in to POD aka Personal Overhaul Device, which was a computer that would give them a “make under”. It announced itself as being pro-natural beauty and declaring “war on fakery”. Hair extensions, lots of make up, fake tan, fake eyelashes- these were what the show was against and it would transform them into more natural vision.
Now, originally I considered this all quite good fun, but maybe I’m going soft but it really isn’t. While still nicer than the US version, which I had to stop watching halfway through one episode, there is a rather nasty side to the show, even if they mask it with montages, upbeat music and Jenny Frost’s cheery presenting.
First of all, the whole premise is dodgy as hell. You’re basically telling people how they should look (it’s predominantly women, but they did have a few guys on the show), and that’s not cool. Watching it back it feels like a massive attack on individuality and choice, with “fakery” being bad and a more understated look being good.
They’d choose extreme cases (girl who applies three layers of fake tan, guy who takes 2 hours to get ready etc.) but even these seem a bit mean spirited. They liked how they dressed or felt comfortable that way why give them grief for it? What makes the natural look so morally superior?
Secondly, the title of the show highlights the meanest part.
Once they’ve dragged the person in front of the camera they’d explain that they’d asked 100 people whether they would snog, marry or avoid the participant (I’m guessing “f**k, marry, kill” would have been a bit too risque a title). We then get a couple of talking heads where the public insult them or explain they would avoid them as they were “trashy” or fake.
It’s quite hard watching a young person hearing people talking smack about their appearance so bluntly. While some fire back you can genuinely see that some of them are getting quite hurt by the criticism, and can you blame them? Imagine having to stand there while some stranger says they’d avoid you because you look a mess.
Making it worse is the fact that they then hit them with a percentage, usually quite high for avoid.
As it’s usually women in front of POD, it’s basically telling them to change for men’s approval and ignores the fact that some of those participants may be lying. I think a lot of the guys were being less than honest about which girls they would snog given the chance. Regardless, just because 80 guys say they would steer clear that still leaves 20 who’d snog you, which isn’t that bad.
The next part that sucks is that POD is actually a bully. She makes quite nasty gags about what they look like and ridicules them. Jenny Frost is the good cop, making a few light hearted gags about how long it must take them to get ready or how much of their hair is actually theirs, and then POD comes in like an insult comic who then turns preachy.
The contestant is then stripped down to a robe, robbed of anything that is unique to them and scrubbed of make up until they are a blank canvass for the show to turn them into a more acceptable version.
For a show that bangs on about people following trends it seems to be determined that women everywhere should wear pretty dresses and only have tans in the summer. That makeup should be applied in a minimal way and that everybody shun hair extensions.
There’s a dull quality to many of the make unders. It turns them into bland, mainstream versions of themselves. For example, here’s Jodie Marsh:
Often this is for reasons like the person has to be “taken seriously” or fit a perceived idea of how someone should look when they’re a mother or professional. Rather than questioning whether it’s fair to judge on appearance the show just decides that they should change to fall into line.
There’s no thought given to the fact that the make up and loud outfits are in any way helpful to them. That it serves as a mask or armour for their insecurities or a way of showing their personality, nope, it’s just shown as being stupid and ugly.
Last of all is a definite streak of slut shaming, with countless of the girls being called out for wearing skimpy clothes. Even back when I was watching the show and enjoying it I thought this was a weird aspect. Being scantily clad wasn’t being fake, was it? And again, this was where the show sided with those who made judgments based on looks.
With a fresh look the cheery, fun vibe starts to crack. The montages are crafted to make them look ridiculous and feature their friends and family ragging on them. Then the partners get involved, talking about how they dress, which smacks of hypocrisy. They started to date the person as they were and now want to change them? That seems like a d**k move.
Jenny Frost talks about how bad the fakery is, but she’s not out there without makeup. It’s all bollocks.
You could make a show about natural beauty, and discuss things like society’s pressure on women to look a certain way. The risks of some treatments and the problems of how important looks are, but this show does none of these things.
It just sits there, smugly looking down its nose at those involved, ridiculing and humiliating them based on their looks. It wants everyone to fit within a narrow field of what’s considered attractive and criticises anyone who falls outside those confines.
If you like to wear makeup and fake tan, then crack on. If people judge you on what you wear then screw them, that’s their problem.
Watching it again the show is terrible, and I’m going to avoid it from now on.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Catfishing– The phenomenon of internet predators that fabricate online identities and entire social circles to trick people into emotional/romantic relationships. (From The Urban Dictionary)
So, Josie Cunningham’s time in the media spotlight has been a surreal journey (click the “Josie Cunningham” tag for more), with the “NHS boob job girl” becoming a much loathed figure and a soap opera story involving her pregnancy and the identity of the father. From day one Josie stated that there were a couple of guys in the frame, one of whom was a Premier League footballer.
Cunningham didn’t reveal the identity of the footballer, throughout the pregnancy, which could be seen as admirable, but could just have been her saving it up for a later revelation, who knows.
Then this week, after the baby arrived (congratulations!) there was a further twist in the tale, as Josie revealed that she’d fallen victim to a Catfish.
This is a term that is getting more widespread after a documentary and a TV series (which is a triumph of trash TV) explored the phenomenon of people pretending to be someone else online.
This creation of a fake life is fascinating, not merely for the sheer weirdness of it, but also the motivations behind it, why would someone want to pretend to be someone else (usually due to lust, cruelty, boredom or loneliness it appears) and why others are so quick to believe what they’re told. An episode I saw recently featured a woman who believed she was talking to Bow Wow (formerly Little Bow Wow) and had divulged many personal secrets to him, only for it to turn out to be a rather amoral and delusional young woman, but that’s beside the point.
Josie revealed that while she thought she was talking to and sleeping with Hull City player Curtis Davies, she was in fact involved with someone else entirely, who capitalized on a resemblance to the athlete.
As she often does, Josie took to Twitter where she spilled her guts out, revealing the truth and how she felt used and betrayed. It’s understandable and one can only imagine how distressing it must be to discover you’ve been conned in such a way.
Of course, part of you wonders how someone could be suckered in to such an extent, but Josie doesn’t seem overburdened with common sense (her entire time in the spotlight has been characterized by poor judgement) and perhaps the idea of bedding a professional footballer appealed to her desire to be “the next Jordan”. Or it could be that she really did develop feelings for this man, and felt close to him, and believed what she was told.
Davies isn’t exactly a household name, and if this bloke does look like him it might be easy for him to pretend. But why? Why lie to someone like that for so long (around 18 months)? It seems manipulative and nasty, and while I feel Josie could have exercised some common sense and caution in this scenario, I do feel bad for her.
Worse, having claimed that the father could be a Premier League player her public image is even worse now, making her look at best foolish and at worst a liar.
I don’t like much of what Josie has done, or how she’s handled certain situations, but I do feel that in this case she is the victim of a con artist and due some sympathy, though I suspect she won’t get much. Writing these blogs has led to conversations with people I know personally, and I’m surprised by the level of vitriol that is heaped upon her, by people who are otherwise pretty chilled out.
The birth of her baby may have helped cushion the blow a little, and deterred some from putting the boot in. But there are still enough hateful trolls out there, including one charmer who took to Twitter to tell Josie he “wished she’d died in childbirth”. That’s just vile and unnecessary, and you wonder what has to be wrong in someone’s life that they consider sending that to a stranger to be okay. You might not like someone or what they do, but wishing them dead? Seriously not cool.
I wish Josie and her new baby all the best, and pray that rumours that she will enter the I’m A Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! jungle are false, because I firmly believe she needs less exposure to the public, not more.
It will only allow the public the chance to humiliate and torment her through the tasks, and put her in a situation where she could make her situation worse. Sometimes a good reality TV stint can turn public feeling around, but I don’t think that would happen for Josie, and while financially secure she may be exposed to even more hate which can’t help but negatively effect a person.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Here’s the thing, I’m not adverse to a bit of trashy “reality” TV- The Hills, TOWIE, Made in Chelsea and The Valleys– I’ve got sucked into each of them at different times. The concepts are simple- a bunch of “real” people are placed in scripted scenarios and the drama plays out, the fact that these people tend to be playing a version of themselves somehow makes them more engaging than your average soap opera, despite them being pretty much the same thing, only less dramatic/OTT.
However, E4’s latest entry into the genre Party House is unlikely to set the world alight.
And there’s a very simple reason for this. It’s poorly executed.
First of all, kudos to the channel for their trailers, which featured the incredibly catchy “Bangerang” by Skrillex and pushed the dramatic confrontations and excess to the fore. A series of house parties at a fancy pad? Booze soaked barneys and drunken debauchery? Sounds like fun.
But the problem is that instead of following the same bunch of party goers through the series each episode will instead focus on a different group of mates.
The whole reason you get sucked into reality TV is the same as normal shows- the characters. I care about Binky and Ceska falling out, I want to know if Jack and Lateysha are going to get together and I want to know if Lauren and Heidi make up in the end. All I’m saying, if I’m seeing these cats for just a single episode they better have a solid story to hook me in.
One shot reality TV can work, but you need a clear, interesting narrative, for example Don’t Tell The Bride. Where a groom has to arrange a wedding in three weeks for 12k and without any input from his wife-to-be. Right away there’s drama- will he pull it off in time and within budget? Will he remember everything? And most importantly will she like it and will it go off okay? That’s some quality trash TV right there, folks, and I’m addicted to this show.
So, what was the plot for the first episode of Party House. I’d imagine as the big kick-off episode you’d go in strong with your best/most interesting story, but if E4 have done this the rest of the series is going to be pretty dull.
The story revolved around Laura and her group of London mates, who were going to be hosting the first party. Laura kick started the show with a little voice over that brought us up to speed- she loves her mates, Lillia and Lucca (too many Ls) but boys make things complicated. Lillia is sort of dancing around developing a relationship with Martin, while Lucca is kind of into Shoey (yeah, that’s what he goes by, I’m guessing his first name must be something really bad like Cuthbert or Adolf if Shoey is preferable). The complication comes from the fact that Laura has also shacked up with Shoey in the past. Oh, and with Martin.
I’m not into slut shaming, because male or female you can shag whoever you want, as long as you’re safe and not a dick in going about it. I just think it’s a bit rich to complain things have got complicated when a large part of that is due to you having shagged most of the major players.
Whatever, minor quibble aside let’s see how things develop, shall we.
Oh, look they’re hanging out having a chat. I have to say Laura and Lucca actually seem alright. Hang on, here comes Shoey. Man, is it me or did the room just get douchey all of a sudden?
Later on Lucca will comment that Shoey is “good at stuff” in the bedroom. Well he must be a goddamn marvel, because personality wise he seems utterly lacking in anything approaching charm or class.
Anyway, let’s see how things are going with Martin and Lillia, who are shopping for party outfits. At a thrift store. Curse you, Macklemore!
Then it hits me like a ton of bricks. These people are a bunch of hipster douches. I mean, why else is Martin wearing a fur coat and a tie-die shirt. And why is Lillia wearing that daft hat? And is that guy wearing a tutu. Oh, you whacky bastard, I bet you’re tons of fun!
I can feel myself turning on this show already.
There’s a definite awkwardness between Martin and Lillia, but it’s hard to tell if this is the result of attraction and history or poor acting and nerves. Whatever, I’m not rooting for them.
Let’s get back to Lucca and Laura discussing Shoey’s bedroom prowess. Man, this is awkward, Laura looks uncomfortable and a little jealous. The other girl present has the best response, expressing utter disgust at the thought of “that ginger man’s naked body” or similar.
The boys are playing table tennis, because I guess there’s only a finite way to set up three characters talking where you can cut around them, so it was only a matter of time. Maybe this playing games will be a running theme- table football next week, air hockey the week after, maybe pool, or that game from Never Say Never Again?
Whatever, over the course of the conversation Shoey finds out that Laura shagged Martin. And he gets all jealous and pissed off about it. Which is a douche move. Seriously, only realizing that you want the girl when someone else has/wants her is a dick move, even when little Michael Jackson did it in “Want You Back”.
Don’t go for him, Laura! That’s a classic dick trait, and the only way you can hold his interest is to constantly have other guys buzzing around you. Also, can you really be intimate when halfway through you have to call them Shoey? Say any sexy dirty talk phrase and then add “Shoey” to the end. Instant mood killer.
So the party arrives after the break and the crew are arriving. E4 then treated us to flashbacks which explained the background, which is pretty helpful if you’re the dude from Memento.
Each member arrives, we see a black and white flashback and their name on the screen. Oh, look here comes Martin. Carrying a deer statue.
You wake up after a night out with a deer statue- there’s a story and probably a good night out behind that. But you arrive at the party with it. Dude, you’re trying too hard to look all “random” and quirky, and the fact you’re trying means that it’s pretty clear that you’re neither. And that’s fine man, embrace your ordinariness and who you really are.
Coupled with the thrift shopping, this was where I lost patience. I mean, I used to go to house parties fairly regularly and my clothing decisions were based on a very simple criteria:
- Do I look okay? Or as okay as I’m gonna get with this face and body?
- Are they comfortable?
- Will they be comfortable when I fall asleep/pass out in them?
- Am I okay with the fact they may end up covered in booze/food/vomit/blood/whatever?
I never thought about going and buying a fur coat or a funny hat because (a) it meant less cash for booze (b) I’d probably look like a dick and (c) my friends would delight in pointing out that I looked like a dick.
The fact I knew that the next week we’d be focusing on another bunch of people meant I had even less reason to care. Like I said, I wasn’t rooting for Martin and Lillia, and with the introduction of the deer I definitely wanted him to end the night alone. Or shagging the deer in a massively embarrassing moment.
As for the Laura-Shoey-Lucca triangle, who was I rooting for? Nobody. I mean, I might have been rushing to judgement but Shoey didn’t seem that likable, so the best outcome for me would be a Laura-Lucca hook up, but having seen a clip of Laura and Shoey in the pool I kinda knew that wasn’t on the cards.
So, yeah, I stopped watching. And probably won’t go back. Unless I stumble across something much more interesting happening when I’m channel surfing or I get trapped under something heavy as an episode starts.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.
Recently I’m A Celebrity, Get Me Out Of Here!, the annual parade of has beens and D-listers being tormented for the public’s amusement. It’s trash telly at it’s very worst, or best depending on your viewpoint.
Personally I’ve only ever watched little bits of it before, but as some of my flatmates wanted to watch it I’ve tuned into it a couple of times.
The lineup follows the traditional rules for the show, with the contestants filling familiar roles:
- The American- Usually famous over here for one role, this year it’s Alfonso Ribeiro aka Carlton from the Fresh Prince. Was a tad too enthusiastic to begin with, but seemed to be doing his best to be polite and chipper, but I suspect we may see a diva-ish melt dow. Prediction: Early exit.
- The Bikini Girl- Miss GB, Amy Willerton, fits the role perfectly as the one who’ll spend ages showering in a bikini and get splashed all over the tabloids. She also fulfills the role of “Do they really count as a celebrity?” Prediction: There until the closing stages, barring a meltdown during a task or spurning Joey’s advances.
- The Idiot- Also serving as “The one who’s already been on a reality show”, it’s The Only Way is Essex star Joey Essex. So far he seems lovably daft and excitable, and him being taught to tell time at the age of 23 and his glee at getting it right was rather endearing. Prediction: Top 3 finish.
- The Posh One Who’s Out of His Depth- Also barely a celeb, David Emmanuel is most known for designing Princess Diana’s wedding dress. He seems to not really know what he’s in for, but I quite like his kinda old school, upper crust luvvie character. Prediction: Will do well, unless his temper frays early.
- The Normal One- Olympic swimmer Rebecca Adlington, she seems the most down to earth and least glitzy. Prediction: Final 3 and my shout for winner.
- The Boring One- Former snooker champion Steve Davis is often seen as being extremely dull, and he’s done little to shatter that perception yet. Getting on okay with everyone so far. Prediction: Will coast for a while in the background, but will be gone long before the final.
- The Mother- The older female characters can either be whingers or comedy gold, and so far Eastenders actress Laila Morse has been good value. She’s had a few little bitchy comments and looks like she doesn’t suffer fools, I predict she’ll be quite a handful when fights start but surprising soft when dealing with unhappy campers. Prediction: Leaving just before the final 3.
- The Soap Star- I never understand why they have soap stars, because they’re usually not famous themselves, just purely for the character they play, as is the case of Lucy Pargeter, who plays trashy but oddly attractive barmaid Chas in Emmerdale. She seems fairly down to earth and I think she might turn out to be quite bolshy and funny. Prediction: Gone somewhere in the middle.
- The Popstar- Ex-Westlife member Kian Egan is the singer in camp, and probably hoping for a comeback off the back of this. He seems alright so far if a bit of a non-entity. Hopefully he’ll surprise and not be as bland as he initially appears. Prediction: Will slip into the last 3 but not be a genuine challenger.
The other contestant is journalist and TV presenter Matthew Wright, who before the show started I suspected might be a likely winner, but having cried and whinged in the early stages I can’t see him pulling off more than an early departure. Which is a shame as he always seemed like a decent enough bloke on his TV show, needs to find his back bone or at least start being funny.
I’ll probably get bored early on, and lose interest, but it’s quite a fun way to waste an evening after lectures and assignments when you just need to switch off with some trash.
The reason I’m writing about it today is because yesterday in a newsagents I saw one of the stupidest non-news stories yet.
Under the sensational “Curse of the Jungle” headline borderline newspaper The Daily Star detailed that the celebs are terrified because their campsite is apparently subject to an Aboriginal curse or an “evil spell”.
Yeah, in 2013, a national newspaper is saying that the native population have placed a curse on the land. It sounds like something which would have been toe-curlingly backwards even 50 years ago, portraying the Aboriginal community as a bunch of cartoonish Tintin characters using black magic.
They’ve actually got “a local elder” to join in with the story, with Gerry Bostock stating “the spirits will not like people trampling over it, especially if they have negative energy.”
Way to make your people look like caricatures, Gerry.
Now call me cynical, but if the spirits really had powers and could tell people to, as Gerry puts it, “piss off” I’d have thought they would have started a little earlier on. Y’know, when the white settlers were treating their descendants abysmally, not when Joey Essex ate a scorpion. It just seems that second string celebs trying to stay in the line up is an odd place to draw your line in the sand and crawl from the grave to start some s**t.
Any thoughts? You know what to do. BETEO.