In Defence Of 'The Shire'
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I should probably preface this by saying that the following views are my own and should not be considered representative of the views of my colleagues... because they're idiots. LOL! Only kidding you guys!
I enjoyed The Shire more than the alarming promo footage which resembled a Mother energy drink commercial led me to believe I would. You know what they say: the best thing about low expectations is the unexpected moments of surprise and delight that usually follow.
Alright no one says that. But nevertheless I did experience occasional surprise and delight while watching the premiere episode last night. I should probably mention that I was browsing wedding blogs for the duration of the show, so my viewing experience was more like a highlights package comprising the scenes that my boyfriend was compelled to voice audible concern over. Snooki-esque best friends Vernesa and Sophie were the cause of much worry.
I sat at attention when he nervously commented "that's silly" as the grotesquely tanned collagen enthusiasts enjoyed a spot of fat-melting technology and Botox injection at the local beautician. Cut to Vernesa reflecting on the first time she found a grey hair on her head: "It's like the worst possible thing that can happen to a 27 year old" she laughed huskily with immense lips flapping like Dumbo's ears if they had sat perpendicular to his face.
I loved that comment. Not because it made me scoff like a superior cunt face, but because a world in which a grey hair is the summit of all human anxieties sounds like a marvelous one to me.
Sophie and Vernesa might be the kind of vacant surgically-enhanced fools that cause feminists to spontaneously self-harm, but they've also got the kind of self-effacing charm that is quintessentially Australian.
While Sophie and Vernesa are frontrunners as my early favourites, I was also quite taken with the character Rif-Raf. There wasn't a great deal of screen time for the fledgling rap artist in the pilot episode, but it was really entertaining to watch misguided enablers like his mother and friends encourage him and his rhymes.
The highlight of the Rif-Raf story arc was when he had a party at his mum's house and got up in front of a large crowd of peers to perform some original hip-hop tracks. I watched with one hand over my open mouth in horrified awe. This excellent strain of poorly informed self-confidence is one of my favourite characteristics in reality television characters, including my all-time favourite case: the unforgettable William Hung:
The rest of the show's characters/real people were less memorable, although I will pay mention to rhinoplasty survivor Beckaa whose father-daughter hand holding made viewers feel awkward and whose best friends are a pair of queenie gays who bitch about how shit her nose job is on their to-camera pieces. LOL! Terrific! I can't wait to find out more about this repulsive trio of narcissists... After all, the greatest reality television characters are always the worst human beings. Want examples?
Intolerable bum dance merchant Sara Maree from the original Australian Big Brother series:
Scheming Richard Hatch from Survivor, hated loyalty and pants.
The worst person on earth:
To be honest I'm slightly confused by a lot of the post-airing criticism of The Shire. First of all, the show clearly does not offer a broad encompassing slice of what life in the Sutherland Shire is REALLY like; it rotates around a group of twenty somethings who auditioned for the parts and got selected on the basis that they would provide entertainment. That's because no one wants to watch a show called 'The Shire' (or 'Marrickville' as it would more likely be named) about me and my boyfriend sitting around watching TV shows and eating dinner while we chat about our day. There's nothing divisive or interesting about that - and it is the very reason Being Lara Bingle has failed as a series: because the people are just too "normal" and likable which, in reality tv terms, translates to boring.
Reality television is a genre that shouldn't be confused with documentary television because it is built primarily for self-destruction - where viewers' shame, fear, superiority and hate ultimately fuel its popularity.
I think my friend articulated the Anatomy of Reality TV Success best. She plotted success in five basic steps:
1. watch for a laff
2. feel good about own self due to characters
3. slowly find them endearing
4. proper fan
5. fabric of society slowly deteriorates
According to those rules I think The Shire is just great.