PFR is marking the 500th post by putting up a bunch of DVD extras this week. This one is a letter highlighting my problems with the most unnecessary show on TV – The Only Way is Essex.
OPEN LETTER – The Only Way is Essex (aka TOWIE)
Please, please, please stop this show.
For anyone unfamiliar with the current UK trend, we are going through a bizarre phase of regionally specific, ultra-tacky, scripted ‘reality TV Shows’ that rip off The Hills / The City / The O.C. – but remove any traces of high-society, fashion, style and class. The Only Way is Essex (TOWIE) is the biggest of these shows, but we also have the cleverly titled Desperate Scousewives, Geordie Shore, and Made in Chelsea.
TOWIE lands somewhere between a low-rent Jersey Shore, cheap soap opera, and ‘Children say the dumbest things’ clip show. In fact, it could more accurately be called “Vapid wannabes do the most desperate things”. Most ‘scenes’ revolve around men/women spending large amounts of money pampering themselves; men/women talking about who is texting/snogging/arguing with who; men/women confrontationally shouting at each other; etc etc. Some scenes are actually just women talking about how great their fake breasts are. It’s essentially playground politics with ‘adults’.
The so-called stars of the show don’t even register on the talent spectrum – some find it difficult to speak (incomprehensible accents aside) – and most annoyingly, they don’t seem to have worked for fame, so why hand it over? At 26 years old, even I remember when the term ‘celebrity’ used to mean something; athletes, entertainers, singers, actors, comedians – some of whom spent the majority of their lifetime working hard, and being genuinely charming & interesting. Shows like this, in conjunction with the gutter press, have degraded and diluted the word beyond recognition.
You only need to look at Essex queen Amy Childs to see why shining the spotlight on these people is a bad idea. Once happy supergluing plastic sparkles on to vaginas (aka a “Vajazzle”), she somehow came out of TOWIE on a high, and now there is nothing she won’t say, no TV show she’ll turn down, and no product she won’t pedal to stay in the limelight – her own spin-off show, fashion line, fake tan, and Pot Noodles!!! In Celebrity Big Brother the public voted her 4th, after a gypsy who wasn’t even famous, Jedward (two annoying Irish media sluts) and Kerry Katona, a permanently troubled media personality. Amy Childs genuinely makes Paris Hilton look as smart and eloquent as Angela Merkel.
These people are terrible role models for young and impressionable viewers. Surely there’s a morality issue of letting anybody think that it’s OK to be this shallow, fake, materialistic, self-obsessed, narcissistic, boring, or so aggressively pro-plastic surgery? A decade ago these people would have been rehabilitated on other shows, yet we’re now at a point where they are star material, and put on a pedestal.
Shows like this don’t normally bother me as they’re tucked away on the far-flung channels, however the idiots of TOWIE town are absolutely EVERYWHERE. They get an unbelievableamount of column inches in the tabloids and trashy mags, but most annoyingly they keep popping up in lots of other prime-time panel shows, talk shows, dating shows etc… Their coverage is now so saturated that even actively avoiding them doesn’t work. In case I haven’t made it clear; these people have zero wit, talent, or charm and bring down anything they appear in.
My biggest gripe with the show however is that it’s continually painted as ‘real life’, ‘fly on the wall’, ‘documentary’. But when you watch it, everything is so meticulously set up that it’s clearly, 100% staged – the camerawork, audio (perfect sound in a nightclub!), lighting… the only thing that’s not predictable is the cast remembering their lines. And when the people go about their ‘day to day’ lives, all I can think of is “who is paying for these people to live like this?!?”
I could rant about this for hours but the bottom line is that this is simply the dumbest show on TV; the fact that people’s names flash up at the start of every scene (to remind the viewers who is who) really says it all about the show and its audience. It’s so bad that I struggle to sympathise with the viewers, and reckon they should be a little bit at least a little bit ashamed of liking it. Comparing this to junk food is doing junk food a disservice.
The Only Way is Essex is like the circus freak show has gone full circle, and ITV assumes that the public’s taste hasn’t changed since then either. I love bad TV, I also love bad, scripted reality TV, but shows like this are definitely a step too far. TOWIE provides negative entertainment, education or cultural value. I truly hope that this goes down as one of the darkest hours of TVland. ITV / ITV2 – this joke has gone on for far too long.
What’s your thoughts on TOWIE? Am I being too harsh?