I’m not averse to fly-on-the-wall, reality TV. In fact, over the years it’s kind of become my area of expertise because I enjoy observing the odd dickhead and/or arsehole and, surprisingly, there aren’t enough around me in real life.
It’s commonplace knowledge that ‘big personalities’ (this includes bell ends, pricks, complete bitches, bastards and even the odd cunt) tend to make their way onto reality television — it’s a prerequisite. So, when I saw the advert for the new Channel 4 ‘documentary’, Gogglebox, I went Michael-Douglas-in-Falling-Down mental – I set it to record on my Sky planner.
The idea is that, I, the viewer, sit there on my sofa, in front of my TV, watching other people sitting there on their sofas in front of their TVs…probably watching Fizz and Chesney watching TV. It reminds me of the infinite reflection of two mirrors facing each other, going on and on and on and on until we’re all living in a dystopian future where the only person who can save us from our Black Mirror style catatonia is John Connor.
The premise sounds flimsy, and it is. Even Caroline Aherne who narrates this programme sounds as though she still can’t believe Gogglebox is an actual thing. The ‘cast’ consists of several families, couples and individuals from up and down the country, just sitting around in their living rooms, watching TV, acting completely naturally and occasionally spouting out things like “where’s Jeremy Kyle when you need him?” I think the guy who said that must fall into the ‘cunt’ category.
I suppose these people are meant to represent Britain’s eccentricity and diversity in all its glory…which can only be a good thing..? So, who are these people representing us in all of our kooky, hilarious, what-are-we-like?!-ness? Well, there’s the Michael family (knitting mum whose kids and husband hate her), Leon and June (really old couple who are interesting because they’ve been married for 109 years), Chris and Stephen (the gay couple who say “fuck” a little bit), Sid and his three (apparently nameless) sons (relatively normal blokes on a sofa. Oh, and I think one of them wore glasses), Steven and Michael (two scoop-neck LADS from Wigan with matching tattoos who, when they’re not drinking fishbowls in Kavos, are undoubtedly sharing some top class, grade A banter) and last but not least, Steph and Dom and their seventeen bedroom house in Kent (the worst people in the world who need to drink a gin and tonic every six minutes to help numb the feeling of being the worst people in the world).
Here’s a collage of some of them and what they’re watching at the time. As you can tell by this photo, it’s obviously pretty enthralling stuff. See if you can guess who’s who.
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Oh, did I mention it’s all TOTALLY natural? Yeah! It definitely isn’t at all staged or contrived. I mean, just because the lighting is all professional like and their living rooms kind of look like The Alan Titchmarsh Show. Oh, and the fact that they’re all sitting around relaxing in their clothes and shoes and makeup, yeah that’s just how some people chillax these days. And when that knitting mum from the Michael family says that she thinks the meteorite that hit Russia wasn’t actually a meteorite but “something to do with the American government”, yeah, that’s definitely her actual opinion and not a feigned attempt at sounding a little bit interesting and that she thinks about things other than knitting and embarrassing her kids.
I assume the purpose of the show is for us as viewers to watch these people commenting on things like Crufts and The Queen’s ailments and assume that they’re being uninhibited and expressing their stupid opinions with sincerity, but that just isn’t how people watch TV. With the exception of maybe Chris and Stephen from Brighton, people aren’t sitting around commenting on Paul Hollywood’s kneading methods as though they offer opportunity for innuendo. He’s just making a bit of bread.
While I’m sitting there, watching people watching their teles, I can’t help but think “is this what it’s all come to?” until I find solace in the thought that the purpose of a TV show like Gogglebox isn’t for people to just watch people sitting around watching tele; it’s another medium to hate. Just like Come Dine with Me isn’t actually a cooking programme, or how Coach Trip isn’t actually about people going on a…coach trip. The true purpose of Gogglebox is for people like you and me to rank people like the Michael family and Bob and Dave from Wigan by their level of dickhead-ness. I mean that MUST be what it’s designed for right? If it isn’t then I don’t really want to watch it anymore.
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