It has been described as the ‘evolution of reality TV’, and has seen the likes of The Only Way is Essex and Made In Chelsea become prime time viewing whilst relagating the nation’s previous favourite, Big Brother, to the TV graveyard that is Channel 5. So what is it about these semi-scripted, at times cringe-inducing ‘docusoaps’ that have got the nation’s attention in a vice-like grip?
With spin-off shows such as Geordie Shore, Sorority Girls and the soon-to-be-aired Desperate Scousewives all vying for viewing figures on various TV stations, it seems to be developing into a veritable turf war. With these shows playing on stereotypes of certain demographics, it can be somewhat misleading, and to be honest, insulting to inhabitants of these cities. Speaking from personal experience (an Essex girl myself) and having fought off Essex-based prejudice for most of my adult life it does become somewhat exhausting meeting strangers and having to explain that no, for the last time, I do NOT own a pair of white stilettos. While I am a fan of the show for entertainment value alone, it’s frustrating for me that while such powerful women as Helen Mirren hail from my county, it is the likes of the TOWIE cast that now represent the rest of us.
The light relief is that we are not the only ones afflicted with the reality TV curse – the people of South London and Newcastle now have their stereotypes highlighted for the nation to mock, and Liverpool is soon to follow. VICE magazine has even made a spoof version of a supposedly soon-to-air East London-based reality show (although MTV has denied all knowledge of such a thing). The first episode of Dalston Superstars went up on the magazine’s website last week and was quickly trending on Twitter, most tweets gasping that VICE seemed to be mocking their own tribe of Hackney hipsters more than anything else. So beware, wherever you may reside, and whatever mould you may fit in to, you are not necessarily safe from MTV et al.