Thursday, 20 October 2011

The Only Way is Essex: Maria's "worst week"; reality redefined (again); and a flppin' colonic for Arg. Give me strength

Tv-ooh is struggling a bit with The Only Way is Essex at the moment.

It's still very watchable and all that, but tv-ooh doesn't just want to enjoy it, tv-ooh wants to understand it - and there are some questions in life that perhaps you just shouldn't ask.

Hearing Maria and Lauren P discuss the former's "worst week of her life" in a recent episode has only further blurred the fiction/reality boundaries.

And those are the same boundaries that tv-ooh has frequently found bothersome if not troubling, and are now causing untold amounts* of inner turmoil 'n' confusion in the process.

Maria's upset because of a story in The Sun which claims she used to work as an escort - which she denies - and that she had been seen out with a footballer, while in the programme she's been dating nightclub owner and dad of Kirk, Mick.

To have this referred to in the show itself takes the notion of these so-called "structured reality" shows up a notch - emphasising the "reality" part particularly - and also showing how close to broadcast the show is made.

That all sounds simple - real characters talking about real situations that are going on in their lives - but what confuses things is that Maria doesn't refer directly to the story as having been printed in The Sun.

Instead she talks about "rumours".

Mick, who said in the same episode that he would no longer talk to Maria after hearing the allegations of her being seen leaving a club with another man, also refers to "rumours".

The reasons The Sun isn't mentioned as the source of these "rumours" - "rumours" that probably wouldn't have otherwise left Essex and might not have earned a place in the programe - is probably because it would ruin the idea of them being "normal" people living "normal" lives.

Because, of course, "normal" people don't make these sort of headlines in The Sun - celebrities and people on television do.

So just when you think you've got the whole so-called "structured reality" format sorted - ie real people reacting to staged situations - along comes a scene that's caused by a tabloid headline but can't be referred to as such.

And it stands out because it's not a scene that's the result of the producer asking one character to go and have a chat with another character about something someone else has done in order to create a dramatic or funny scene for our enjoyment.

Instead it's something from the actual "real world", and the talk between Lauren P and Maria - now said to be very upset by the "evil" claims - almost takes the programme in a new direction: minor celebrities talking about a tabloid story that's upset them.

But then in a show that's all about "structured reality" - as opposed to yer actual reality - perhaps it shouldn't be all that surprising after all.

It's reality by its own rules, and tv-ooh needs a lie down and maybe a doctor to help address this over-thinking of something that really shouldn't be examined too closely.

And all of that is WITHOUT EVEN MENTIONING that in the very same episode Arg had a colonic irrigation thing which is probably the most unpleasant thing ever witnessed in the history of ITV2; while Joey Essex had an animal-themed pool party in the freezing cold. You could see everyone's breath and everything.

It can only be a matter of time before the cast will start to refuse doing stuff like that.

And Gemma told Lucy and Mario to grow up in a move that perhaps echoed the sentiments of every single viewer watching - or at least those not permanently damaged by the thought of Arg having his intestines rinsed out.

Let's never discuss that again.

*only a momentary amount of inner turmoil 'n' confusion , in passing, to be honest. In fact it might have just been that Mars bar not sitting right.

Previous related stories:
An inexplicably serious and thoughtful review of The Only Way is Essex series 3 episode 1
Only Way Is Essex: Series two - a verdict: the winners, the losers
Only Way Is Essex - the dumbed down, dumbed down
Only Way Is Essex: Reality/drama hybrid wins heart, confuses mind

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