Monday, 24 December 2012

Made in Chelsea series 4: The winners, the losers, and the all-out chumps...


How was it for you readers? For us, series four of Made in Chelsea has had to fight a bit harder for tv-ooh's attention than during previous runs.

That's partly because the chump-count has risen considerably this time around (hello Andy and friends) and also, perhaps, because the show's stopped being a novelty: the characters are now also celebrities. We see them at awards shows and film premieres, but they don't do any of that during Made in Chelsea. There's also the risk of repetition of storylines, as its producers try and recognise and exploit what they think made the show a hit in the first place. (In case you're wondering, it's mainly ARGUMENTS we like, between the characters we want to watch).

Because don't forget, among all of this furrowed-brow discussion, WE TAKE IT ALL SO FRIGHTFULLY SERIOUSLY. Anyway, who's for a glass of Champagne and a weekend out of London, as we take a look back over this series?
THE WINNERS


Millie: She's not had very much to do,
but is still an accomplished slapper (of cheeks) (Pic: E4)
MILLIE

In a show about relationships, if you're a character in a happy relationship off-screen you are, effectively, a bit like a neutered animal on-screen. So instead, you become the sofa-dwelling confidante of other people - eg Louise and Sophia - and you also take up pet ownership, albeit temporarily. There have been better storylines for Millie, but at least it enabled her to compare her pet dog to Victoria, which in turn gave Victoria something to do other than stride about on high heels looking aloof. Millie's presence also helped out Rosie, who, again, doesn't have very much to do either. Posh girls with not much to do other than shop and chat. Yay - great television! But Millie redeemed herself with that massive slap round the face of prize plum and goon-in-chief Spencer in episode 10 in a show of friendship and loyalty. And what a prize plum Spencer really is.

LOUISE

The nation - or at least the Made in Chelsea-watching nation - is divided over Louise. Last year she couldn't make up her mind between best friends Jamie and Spencer and so irritated everyone; this year she's constantly in tears. A sympathetic observer might suggest that's because Spencer has eroded so much of her confidence and self-esteem that she's been reduced to a clingy, gibbering wreck, when really Spencer needs to put her out of her misery and let her go so he can be the lad he apparently wants to be - that 'playah'. In many respects, Louise's on-screen disintegration has been quite dark and disturbing for such a light 'n' frothy show such as Chelsea. We should get a helpline number flashed up at the end for sufferers of emotional abuse/prize plums. And how's Louise getting on with her degree at Edinburgh university anyway? Are all her essays stained with tears? Probably.

Binks: BINKS! What's not to love? (Pic: E4)
BINKS

We love Binks. Who doesn't love Binks? Having been given the run-around by a commitment-fearing Jamie, and then a flirtatious but naughty Andy, she's apparently doomed - doomed! - to be unlucky in love. And that time when Ollie and Cheska rounded on Jamie in the street after his poor treatment of Binks was one of the best arguments of the series. This means, clearly, that Binks is destined to be in a unique three-way marriage situation with the perpetually single and sticky-beak in-chief Cheska and bi-to-gay-bi Ollie Locke. They all have great hair, and the three of them make a lovely pair.

THE MUMS

As much as we'd like to believe that the mothers of Binks, Cheska and Ollie all sit around sipping Champagne of an afternoon and intimidating the boys who dare cross any of their offspring, it's unlikely the three had never met before we saw them mid-series. However, as anyone who watches and enjoys Made in Chelsea knows, ACTUAL REAL REALITY DOESN'T ACTUALLY MATTER. More mums please.

THAT EXTRA WITH THE LEGS AND SUNGLASSES

You know who we mean - whenever there's an 'establishing shot' in between scenes of 'life in Chelsea' there's always some bird with long legs and over-size sunglasses sipping on Champagne or walking down the street, accompanied by some indie-guitar music and golden sunshine. It's frequently the same extra, and she's very good at walking and sipping Champagne, so that's all fair enough. In the biz it's possibly known as 'atmos'.

Gabriella: Give us a song about romancin' gone bad, will ya (Pic: E4)
GABRIELLA

Although story-line wise, she's a bit of one-trick pony - first she gets over Ollie, then they become friends, then he messes her around, then they become friends again - her madness has been on an even-keel this series. And now she has left, and this is a mistake. Let's keep Gabs, let's hear her do more vocal-acrobatics for no other reason than just because.

LUCY

So posh that her sharp diction could cause an injury, unlikeable Lucy makes the 'winners' list due to a complete lack of self-awareness, in that she describes herself as 'a playah' and she uses the expression 'up in my grill' with a complete lack of humour or irony. In real life, you'd want to deck her, but in pretend tv real life, she's the proverbial spanner in the works of successful relationships everywhere, and her shameless approaches to Spencer show both Lucy and Spencer as the losers they really are, although you could argue  her directness and honesty is to her credit. This, in turn, highlights the problem with this list - Lucy has been seen as a loser morally, but tv-wise, she's a winner. Oh yes. But we both know Lucy may one day be saying all of this to her therapist; a crumpled heap on the floor.

THE LOSERS

MARK-FRANCIS

We enjoy a bit of Mark Francis, but in a show about relationships between posh twentysomethings, is there room for someone so posh and absurd that he becomes almost a little unlikeable? He's so aloof he doesn't appear to have any romantic relationships and he dresses like he's four decades older than he is. Having said that, his double act with Victoria is often amusing - in their own little friendship-free world of privilege and restorative glasses of Champagne - but can we try giving him some romance, eh? Set him up with some scally-wag in a tracksuit and a shoplifting habit from Westbourne Park called Dean. That'll be a laugh.

Francis, Proudlock and Jamie - both on fairground horses and their telephones, simultaneously (Pic: E4)
FRANCIS BOULLE

A wise move to integrate Francis with Jamie and Proudlock, as his 'business dealings' storylines were becoming as frustrating as his frequent lack of fluency (see Richard). How is this man a success at business? But despite our wishes last season for a romantic storyline for him, perhaps he is better as a character alone and strange; a third party observer and commentator. Is he too vulnerable for love? New girl Sophia's decided she likes him after all, but he's now met Ashley, who seems a good, suitable choice, which inevitably means Francis has dumped her for Sophia. Hmmn.

SAM

Purporting to be a friend of both Andy and Stevie, Sam is effectively the new Fredrik, ie he doesn't quite fit in any pair and has nothing to do apart from (obviously) rejecting the lusty advances of Cheska, and swaggering about in a squash court speaking in barely comprehensible sentences that appear to suggest he's some sort of 'jack the lad' type. Are we sure he's posh? Shouldn't he be in Essex?

ROSIE

You've got nothing much to do, love. Clear orf.

THE ALSO-RANS aka THE CHUMPS

This is where it gets tricky - these are characters who are either harmless, or likeable, or in fact just harmlessly likeable, but their actions sometimes make them unlikeable, which, in turn, makes good television (see Lucy, above). As we say, it's tricky. And don't forget, all this is COMPLETELY AND TOTALLY SERIOUS AND IMPORTANT.

Andy: He looks here like he'd quite like to punch you, doesn't he (Pic: E4)
ANDY

In turns quite handsomely dashing in one shot and then almost resembling a freshwater otter with good genes in the next, Andy - never far from his benign and inoffensive best mate Stevie - originally set his sights on Louise, much to the ire of Spencer then Jamie, and then wooed Binks before dumping her once he'd got what he wanted it. The cad. As a plot 'device' he functioned perfectly, but beyond this series, where's he going to go without repetition? Send him travelling.

It's Spencer: We dislike you because we like you, possibly (Pic: E4)
SPENCER AND JAMIE

These boys are by turns both likeable and irritating, but you can't help but feel their lives would be smoother if they just married each other, or at least spent their time avoiding messing with girls' heads, which seems inevitable and, to be honest, predicatable. They are the boys who will never grow up. And why have they never mentioned the departure of their other best friend Hugo?

Jamie: Candy Kittens not shown, thankfully (Pic: E4)

RICHARD

Literally nothing to say about Richard.

PROUDLOCK

Or Proudlock. Oh, he has nice glasses.

AND THAT IS ALL.

It's been fun though, yar? And in truth, there are no losers, or also-rans (aka chumps). Because they all make Made in Chelsea what it is, which is a right old lot of enjoyable nonsense. Which, in a way, means they're all winners in the end. And there's more to come: Made in Chelsea series 5 has already been commissioned, so perhaps it will be due in spring 2013.

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