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January 13, 2015

The Only Way is Mute

Daaaay Fooour in the Big Brotha house. Chantelle is in the kitchen eating toast.
Way back in 2000, we were still reeling from the potential glitch in our global computer system; little did we know that we had yet to encounter the real Millennium Bug. Six months later, Big Brother was launched in the UK and from then on, certain broadcasting standards began to decline.

Guys, I’m sorry, but I thought we bid a fond good riddance to Big Brother in 2010? Just because it moved channel doesn’t mean we had a lobotomy. The fresh faced concept all too quickly turned to guilty pleasure to mind-bending muck. Are you one of the three million who tuned in to watch the launch of Celebrity Big Brother? I’ll admit I flicked over to watch some of the entrants, only to remember why I jumped ship in the first place.
In its heyday, I understood its appeal. I found it strangely comforting to watch the housemates sleeping whilst I did late night homework (literally only just realising how creepy that sounds now). But the show got progressively desperate in its attempts to keep things interesting and when contestants started shoving wine bottles up their nether regions, I was done.

Much like a genetic mutation of the Gremlin kind, reality-based TV shows soon began to crop up everywhere. From talent competitions to talentless families, no stone has been left unturned in the quest for so-called original material. We have watched Z-list celebrities eat kangaroo testicles and called it entertainment. A particularly nasty strain of this genre is the spoilt brat chronicles of such shows as The Hills, The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea. They have spawned a disturbing mish-mash of scripted dialogue and supposedly real-life events that we are expected to welcome as acceptable viewing. Golden Globe worthy this is not.

This tripe is actually making me watch (and enjoy, I might add) documentaries led by the likes of Jodie Marsh and Katie Hopkins. Despite the inevitable media spin, it is refreshing to see public figures talk about actual issues such as obesity and sex-trafficking, rather than debating whether or not Chloe should take Elliott back (had to Google them by the way, way less painful than actually watching for research purposes).

The difficulty lies in knowing where you should draw the line; cooking programmes, for example. You may be casually enjoying the melodrama of Masterchef, and before you know it, Donut Showdown is on and you’re waiting to see who will claim the title of Best Donuteer. Yes, that exists. Thank you, Canada, for that gem.

For all ye who remain faithful, Gogglebox is the latest in televisual innovation. Not satisfied with simply watching your own programmes? Now you can watch other people watching their programmes! The ultimate in reality TV; a real person watching real people watching reality TV. Seriously? I feel like it’s the end of Planet of the Apes and we are only just realising we have destroyed Earth.

You want reality? Turn off the TV.