Wednesday, 30 November 2011

Desperate Scousewives: There's something beneath all the fake tan (but it's likely to be just more fake tan)

There's a lesson, probably, somewhere underneath all the rollers and fake tan in new so-called structured reality soap Desperate Scousewives, about not judging people by appearances.

The characters are all so impossibly glamorous they may only ever be minutes from death due to extensive self-coverage of either fake tan or make up; tv-ooh can only trust that there are parts of their bodies that remain untouched, therefore allowing them to continue breathing unaided.

And if that isn't the case, let's hope there's a team of medics on standby.

Kicking off

It's likely those medics will be needed anyway, if not to perk up some of the performances, then because of the inevitable conflicts and rows that generally characterise this form of soapy telly.

Anyone who has seen Lauren G in Essex let rip knows how vocal and hate-filled they can be, and here in Liverpool, by the looks of it, things might end up kicking off regularly too.

So we see 'professional journalist' Elissa kicking off at her ex, Joe (described as 'a player'); Layla (a shop assistant/model) kicks off at Joe too because she feels he's using her (he is) (because he's a player); while Jaiden, already marked by tv-ooh as being truly awful and almost unwatchable and therefore competely and utterly watchable (and described as a 'bitchy blogger' - sample: 'you're shit!' - gosh!), is confronted by Amanda (described as 'a local celeb') about bad things he's written about her.
Joe from Desperate Scousewives: He's described as 'a player', but not because he plays football.

So in many ways, it's reality soap as usual. In fact, many of the elements that make tv-ooh favourites Essex and Chelsea are here in Desperate Scousewives - the bad boys, the glamour girls, the extensive soundtrack of well-known music tracks as short-hand for mood indication, plus contrived party-type events in the last quarter of each episode designed to bring the cast together and create tension and aggro resulting from their complicated relationships with each other - producers call it 'drama'.

'Off-screen producer'

But there's differences too - the characters sometimes look like they're speaking to an off-screen producer who's goading them into annoyance ('tell me how angry you are!').

We see them reacting to conversations they've just had - a documentary technique, which so sort of breaks the soapy/drama feel and emphasises the 'reality' of it.

Maybe it's also a technique to simplify the story telling process (given that about 70 per cent of the main characters are near identical-looking young blonde women) or to minimise the need for other scenes to be set up for 'plot recap' purposes, or even because the cast aren't quite up to scratch with their 'acting' yet.

Jodie from Desperate Scousewives: She'd 'wake the dead'!
That might also explain the narration from fog-horn-voiced beauty-therapist (and chief comedy element) Jodie, whose return to 'the 'Pool' from London and her search for a job, begins this modern day urban story.

'Volume control'

"I want to like her, that's the thing," says salon owner Mark to his husband and fellow owner Chris, after they've interviewed Jodie for a job, "but there's something missing."

Chris knows what it is: "Volume control."

"She'd wake the dead."

"She probably does."

But let's give Desperate Scousewives a chance, eh. Let's try and get past the WAG'd up appearances, the oblique reference to something mysterious called 'anal bleaching' that tv-ooh really doesn't want to know about, and the fact that Elissa has a wall-mounted Economy 7 heater in her flat, because, let's remember, tv-wise, the city's got pedigree.

Brookside, The Liver Birds, Bread, and the inexplicable thrill of wondering when the next loon might appear to make rude signs through Richard and Judy's This Morning dockside window are all great examples of Liverpool's contribution to good tv. Well, ok, maybe not Bread...

And Liverpool is probably due another bite of the popular culture cherry - although right now tv-ooh is just not sure if Desperate Scousewives is it.

But really, an Economy 7 wall-mounted heater!

You wouldn't get that in Chelsea.

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