My advice to the TOWIE producers…

By the looks of Twitter, I’m with the 90% of the British population who wishes they could un-see last night’s dreadful The Only Way Is Essex, better known as, live. It has been described as the ‘worst tv show ever’ by readers of The Sun and many fans have expressed how they were tempted to stop watching.

The thing that struck me though, is that it was the cast who were getting slated online. Although I’m in agreement that some are acting a little too big for their boots *cough* James ‘Arg’ Argent, I really don’t see how the failure of the live episode can fall into their hands.

The Arg Charity Show... it's all for charity!

The Arg Charity Show… it’s all for charity, apparently!

Whilst the message was clear – the ‘stars’ were putting on a charity show – there were no details anywhere with how fans could donate to their charity of choice, Breast Cancer Care, and although some may claim they raised awareness, no facts on the cancer were shared.

The show played out like a poorly executed version of The Muppet Show, except it wasn’t funny… It was plagued with poor edits and a lack of understanding of those behind the scenes that as they were shouting to the cast, the audience could hear them too. It is a credit to the post production staff of the regular shows that it is usually edited so smoothly. Last night we had to endure cutting people off mid-sentence and moving to a shot of two people looking at each other in silence – until we heard those behind the camera say “we’re rolling”.

Sam and Kirk have lots to discuss

Sam and Kirk sit in silence, until they are prompted by someone behind the camera to “talk about Lauren”

If last night’s show did anything, it made it clear just how constructed the storylines are. We heard producers prompting Sam and Kirk to “talk about Lauren” and it would appear the only people pressuring Joey to talk about marriage are those we don’t see on-screen. The poor boy was almost reduced to tears and the rumours online are saying it’s because he was being pressured to propose at the end of the show.

So, my advice to TOWIE producers – the live show clearly didn’t work, please don’t try it again, if you do, count your losses, it’s pretty clear the show last night was scripted and had been rehearsed, so don’t try to pretend it isn’t.

If you’re going to revolve it around a ‘talent’ show, don’t cut away from the acts, aren’t they what it’s all about? In fact, an even better route could be to put on a TOWIE pantomime, add an ‘Essex twist’ to a tale we all know.

The saving grace of the live show was, without a doubt, Kirk Norcross’ performance. He’s never mentioned that he could sing before so it was a shock when he said he was singing a jazz song, that’s usually Arg’s territory. In my opinion, and according to Twitter, he was the star of the night… It would be great to see a little rivalry between him and Arg over the performance.

But please, don’t try to go live again. I don’t think the nation can handle it….or Joey.

The live show appeared to upset Joey, who was seen crying to producers after the show

The live show appeared to upset Joey, who was seen crying to producers after the show

(All screenshots have been sourced from ITV Player, if you dare to watch the episode again, it’s available here for the next month.)

Reality TV – How Real Is It?

The Simple Life, The Only Way Is Essex and The Hills. Just three examples of reality television that have been major successes. But how real are these “reality” shows? Paris Hilton, one of the stars of The Simple Life has been quoted as saying:

Paris Hilton: Not So Simple?

‘The Simple Life’ is a reality show and people might assume it’s real. But it’s fake. All reality shows are fake basically. When you have a camera on you, you are not going to act yourself. Before I started the show I thought I’d make a character like the movies ‘Legally Blonde’ and ‘Clueless’ mixed together, with a rich girl all-in-one. Even my voice is different and the way I dress is different from me in real life. It’s a character I like to play. I think it’s carefree and happy. The public think they know me but they really don’t.”

Hilton raises the key point that people who star in reality shows want to be liked by the audiences and therefore play upon characteristics that are stereotyped of their persona. Of course, to anyone who has ever watched The Simple Life, it is clear that it isn’t real and certain parts may be scripted.

The Only Way Is Essex Disclaimer

The more recent UK reality show, The Only Way is Essex, states that while the “people in the show are real, some of what they do has been set up”. This does make you wonder how much of what you see on these supposed “reality” shows is actually real. Are the focal relationships shown in the show real? Are the amazing job offers real? Do these people actually own the businesses they claim to? And if scenes are set up, should it have been portrayed as a reality show?

Perhaps the most popular reality show was MTV’s The Hills, running for six seasons, it was constantly scrutinised over how real it really was. As the people featured in the show were in the public eye, especially in America, there were elements of their lives that were not in the show, but were known to be true. Examples of this are cast member Brody Jenner‘s relationship with singer Avril Lavigne and Lauren Conrad‘s relationship with actor Kyle Howard. Since leaving the show Conrad has released a book series titled L.A. Candy, which is based on a group of girls staring in a reality show. It is suggested through the narrative of the book that the reason certain relationships were not shown on The Hills was because the stars significant others did not sign release forms and did not want to be featured on the show.

The most interesting feature of The Hills though, is the ending of the final series. Whether the show is real or not, you have to hand it to the show’s creator Adam DiVello, amongst all the controversy surrounding  the show’s realism, the ending is truly inspired.