Are you not entertained?

Rachel Moloney takes the ‘unreality’ series as a starting point for her television-based rant

Today I woke up with one of the worst hangovers of my life. But I manned up, struggled out of bed and made it to the Careers Fair- so at least today wasn’t a total failure.

However less than three hours away, in the over-privileged and perfect world of Chelsea, the gang returned from a luxury holiday to St Tropez and excitably started to prepare themselves for the boys’ house party. Now I can’t be said to know much about everyone’s daily lives, as that would be creepy, but I would imagine that few people honestly live like the Made in Chelsea cast. Am I right? Or is my life just in need of a serious overhaul?

But that’s the way so-called reality shows work. In fact they’re more like unreality shows, as larger-than-life characters with ridiculous names (I mean, who’s ever heard of a Lateysha, Arg or Binky?) are instructed to follow one rule alone: act like a total moron.

This is particularly evident in MTV’s latest offering The Valleys, which has courted much controversy over the past month. Proud Welshie Charlotte Church ranted a little on Twitter to say that you should ‘feel sorry for those young adults who are set up to look like fools and will suffer long after because of it.’ Fine words from a woman who’s not exactly known for having a squeaky-clean past of her own.

However she does have a point. If excitable blonde Carley ever wants to be a teacher or lawyer for instance (unlikely, I know), she’ll have to hang her head in shame as employers watch a clip of her collapsing on the floor of Glam and flashing everybody in the room. And- surprise, surprise- she won’t get the job.

I watched the first episode of The Valleys with a slight sense of obligation to the city I study in and got very excited when I saw them sticking up posters down my road. Yet something did bug me. They all said that Cardiff was a place of dreams, where they had a chance and a future. So why did they then proceed to go out and get absolutely wasted? Instead of waking up, fresh-faced and raring to go, they woke up with the mother of all hangovers. Not the best start to their life-changing opportunity.

The show itself is a response to the equally terrible (but dare I say it, fascinating) Geordie Shore, which in turn is inspired by the original Jersey Shore. I’ve never seen the American equivalent, yet I painfully watched Pauly D on Ellen and he didn’t even know who was running against Barack Obama in the upcoming Presidential Election. It’s Mitt Romney for the record. Vacuous, orange and lairy individuals clearly live on the Jersey Shore, yet they also seemingly exist in every other reality show on TV. So what’s the point of drawing attention to all these regional variations, if you just show the same types of people going out on the town and downing shots? All it does is suggest that the Geordies and the Welsh are not dissimilar at all. Well, apart from the accent.

And as the reality show invasion continues, few areas in the UK will be able to escape from the intense gaze of the cameras. Blackpool Lights is rumoured to be appearing on our screens in the near future and Made in Manchester has already been speculated and then denied by production company Monkey Kingdom (a fitting title for the inevitable bunch of animals to appear on the show.) And let’s not forget Desperate Scousewives. OK maybe we will, as it was awful and has been axed, but Being Liverpool (currently on Channel 5) switches the focus to yet another group of ‘unreal’ people; namely the city’s football stars as they work and relax at home.

Now this may come as a shock, but I do not live in a mansion like Stephen Gerrard, or casually have a yacht like Andy in Made in Chelsea. I also don’t get paid to go out every night and have my picture taken every time I leave the house. It’s a sad state of affairs, but that’s the truth. And I feel like it’s the same for the majority of people. So what are reality shows really trying to achieve?

Ultimately of course, they’re simply trying to entertain the nation. We just can’t get enough of down-right irritating individuals to bitch about, laugh at and shock us and it is vital that these willing show-offs act in ways which are totally outrageous and unreal. If Joey Essex went to Tesco and bought a bag of crisps, that would be just as boring as watching a cat sleep.If MIC’s Millie caught the bus to get to her cleaning job on time, that would not only be surprising (she’d ruin her nails), but also incredibly tedious.

[pullquote]If Joey Essex went to Tesco and bought a bag of crisps, that would be just as boring as watching a cat sleep.[/pullquote]

So we all need a dash of unreality to make our own mundane and normal lives just that little bit more fun. As the rain falls outside and you’re stuck at home doing work, look forward to turning on the TV and watching TOWIE or Geordie Shore. But just be glad it’s not your own life; it looks far too hectic.


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