When MIC, Towie, CBB, Geordie Shore, The Valleys, and Love Island are trending more than Brexit, ISIS and Trump, you have to wonder what is fuelling this British obsession with reality TV? The boundaries between public and private lives have been blurred, and with the rate that nudity, cheating and intercourse is becoming acceptable dinner time TV, what is in store for 2017 – Britain’s got penis? Top of the Dick? Channel 4s recent Equinox series is not far off it. Is it sad that we enjoy watching hearts and dignity being ripped to shreds on a weeknight at 9pm, or are we being bought into a massive new business of sponsorship and advertising? One thing is for sure, popular TV today involves two elements: sex and brands.
So what are these shows trying to portray? Geordie shore is meant to shed some light on the wild nightlife of Newcastle, as well as explicitly demonstrate the sexual tendencies and lack of morals that stem from twentysomething Geordies. The Only way is Essex opens the door to the world of Dagenham “Wags” that go to one club, called the Sugar Hut where they get “mugged off” day in and day out by a group of fake baked simple minded twenty something “entrepreneurs” who own their own coffee shops. Made in Chelsea invites the public into a tiny world of well educated, eloquent Sloane’s, who are fluent in bullshit. They date each other, and they throw dinner parties in their parent’s mansions. Reading this back, I do not believe that these three summaries are a fair synopsis of people from Newcastle, Essex, or Chelsea, so why do we love it? Because their lives are interesting, and watching their public falls makes us feel better about our real normal lives? These shows are packed with materialistic, good looking, egotistic pillocks, who have a lack of understanding about the world around them, and their ignorance and errors in love have us glued.
Unlike MIC, Towie and Geordie Shore, Love Island really took dramility TV next level, and the recent circulation of a particular contestants private parts demonstrates how accustomed and perhaps even appreciative we are as a nation to sex on TV. The premise of the show, is a group of well assetted, dim-witted and sexually driven single individuals moved to the Chlamydia capital of the world, Magaluf. If you were deemed unattractive, and failed to get laid, you were voted off. Its Big Brother, meets Porn Hub, meets Blind Date. Alarms were sounded to signal it was “shagging time,” where contestants, both above and below the bed, indulged in passionate banging. Every night, like a comfort blanket, it offered an excuse to not socialise, and we were tricked into hours of Lovers Tiffs that were enhanced by backing music from Adele and Sam Smith. Well whilst you may have told your work colleagues you were engrossed in Team Sophie, you were actually being plagued by Superdrug adverts. Every 15 minutes.
Whilst we may be as a nation hooked on the dramility opium that is sex and relationships on public TV, we are actually being polluted by genius advertising agencies. The only substance, and poison to these shows is product placement. Let’s be real here – there isn’t any good acting, 30% of the show is bizarre horse like facial expressions, 25% is pop music and nostalgic summer tunes. You have to wonder why the whole cast is using the same phone, and driving the same car, and going to the same clubs and restaurants. Traditional advertising breaks do not work anymore with the likes of ad stopper and online streaming, and according to research from the Guardian 90% of households with digital recording use it simply to skip ads. Scandalous reality TV has given birth to social media product endorsers, who will creep into your Instagram feed, your minds, and your wallets.
Although these shows provide us an hour of self-appreciating mindless scripted drama, perhaps some stimulating coffee machine conversations, and maybe even a night in over a night out, they have also subconsciously put products and ideas in our heads and maybe even in our hands. They have led us to downloading voting apps, carelessly handing over our data, to then target us further as consumers. The sex may appear wild, but it’s all a game. You don’t see David Attenborough pushing iPhone in igloos in the North Pole, or diamonds in the deep sea. There’s not even Jaguar cars in the jungle. So don’t forget – with penis comes products, and with boobs comes brands.