…but they’re colourful and pretty and they bend nice.
If someone were to have told you that there’d have been a television show that followed a brain-dead cast from Essex with a collective 1Q of 4, where the topics of conversation stretched to which was closer to Brentwood: Stockport or the moon, that this show would sweep the nation and you’d actually find it enjoyable, you’d have told them where to go. ME?! you’d proclaim with disgust, whilst sipping on something with a dead sophisticated name like Courvoisier or something, and adjusting your bifocals to get a good look at this cupboard on Antiques Roadshow. You’d never expose yourself to such drivvle. But The Only Way Is Essex is the embodiment of such drivvle, and whilst viewing it might feel like you’re in the midst of a deep discussion with a piece of intelligent Play-Doh, you do secretly really enjoy Play-Doh, don’t you?
Yes, sometimes in life you do have to hang your high and mighty hands on your head, shaking your bonce like a ragdoll on Ketamine until you knock out a good thousand brain cells in order to just humour yourself for a bit. If you do this until you find yourself gawping like a shocked otter, dribble forming at the sides of the mouth, ready for the biggest waste of your life, then you have prepared yourself appropriately.
From a first, second and third person point of view, this is, in all fairness, a terrible show. The cast, the producers, and the television company would even tell you that, but at the end of it, we’re all the daft ones for plugging money into a business which glorifies stupidity and debases our intelligence. Any avid fan would openly tell you that the concept is flawed, there is no real structure, and everybody looks like the person stood next to the other; it’s all just one big prosthetic mess. And I love it.
Usually in ‘reality’ series, the producers aim to give the characters as many dimensions as possible in order to keep the concept fresh and give the franchise longevity. Whereas in TOWIE, it appears that the aim is to give the characters as few dimensions, and as little depth about them as possible, in order to not confuse our poor little heads, bless our thumb-headed souls. Yes, in this show everybody is defined by their appearance, or if they’ve not got enough about them, by one distinct body part. This may sound odd and, well, it is. It seems like the casting directors gathered all of the wannabes into a room and, after telling them all kindly to stop playing with the curtain tassles, to choose a body part and pretend to be it for a couple of seasons, the same way we used to be shepherded together in nursery and told to be pretend to be a cloud. The first in this line-up of adult toddlers is Chloe Sims, a woman who defines an Essex traht path (‘trout pout’ to us simpletons), Joey Essex’s improperly pearly whites, Diags (termed because of his ‘diagonal mouth’ – how that ever caught on expertly explains the kind of people that affectionately call it him), Gemma and her, well let’s say, ‘bubbly personality’ and Arg, for his indiscriminate rear-end gastronomics – seriously… EVERY. EPISODE. And whilst this may sound like hell on Earth, it actually bloody works, you know!
The cast give a light-hearted fall-back from our day to day working lives every Wednesday and Sunday, and it’s times like this where ITV2 execs can sit back on their plush gold-threaded sofas, counting their reds and giggling at how they hit the goldmine with an idea that probably divulged inspiration from when they asked their toddler how playtime was.
Although, for some it is a learning experience – you get the chance to see how the glamorous side lives. Running off the coat-tails of The Hills and Made In Chelsea’s success, we are given a sneak-peak into the lives of those where if you’re not botoxing before brunch you’re taken to a darkened room and given a strict disciplinary. The make-up is blisteringly immaculate in every episode, to the point where you feel the need to run up and punch them in the face just to see if it smudges. The hair is matched in expertise, but to them credentials such as this are nothing more than a birth right.
But alas, for all of these people whose only worries are which shade of tan best complements their new teeth, there are of course, like anything that is desirable, insufferable black holes which pave the way of such a sought-after existence. The need to ‘top’ is on the tip of everyone’s make-up brushes and brusquely dictates how the cast are supposed to behave. Watching it initially made me feel down-right drab, sat watching back to back episodes in my Lazy Boy dressing gown, hair slung back in a bun so haphazard that it appeared to have been crafted by pigeons and without a scrap of make-up on, I began to irreverently curse Snog Marry Avoid for leading me astray. On reflection I now see it was just a momentary warped outlook, the same way that Jersey Shore made me ponder if I wasn’t partying hard enough (it turned out I wasn’t). But as television shows go, they are exaggerated, enhanced and stretched-out representations of a lifestyle, they are made to seem larger than life, aspirational but most certainly unattainable. So, next time you sit down for your 9-5 and you find yourself dreaming of eyeshadows and hair mousse, just remember – you will have much smarter children.
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