What makes a good reality TV show for me
November 27, 2013
Let’s get this straight, I haven’t seen them all, and have no desire to watch Made in Chelsea, TOWIE , Policemen beating the crap out of lowlife hooligans, but I have realised the the ones I really like have a common thread. And it is that the people like each other and are supportive of each other. So when the Strictly competitors are finished we pan to see their competitors and other professionals all cheering each other on. We see the back slapping as the come up the stairs. And the cheering of each others efforts. It warms my heart. We don’t get any of that on X factor .
And although I haven’t watched Celebrity Jungle for a few years, when I did watch it I liked the encouragement of each other. Not the twattish behaviour. And OK, yes I liked the challenges till the novelty wore off.
And then 24 hours in the NHS was another uplifting series showing what real healthcare staff do all day and showed people striving to do their best for patients and I loved it. Similarly the Educating Yorkshire series which I only saw a couple of was at its best when we watched people giving their all for each other. Secret millionaire, Undercover Boss – I loved both of those because watching people have their eyes opened and reality flood in and humble them was great as was listening to people really keen to give back to society. Faith-restoring stuff.
But now my favourite reality show is gogglebox. It’s not a reality show in the conventional sense. It’s a fixed camera documentary (like another brilliant one – Chicken shop) where we watch edited highlights of various families or friends watching various TV programmes from throughout the week. And I love the warmth in the room. That they get involved. That they are families and friends talking to each other. That the TV is the common cultural currency of their lives. And they sing with Sam Bailey, they shout when people are being nobs and they take the piss out of each other.
Particular participants have become celebrities in their own right – the ‘posh couple’ who coiff champagne as they imitate Nigella or excoriate Downton Abbey’s Lady Mary for having short arms (you had to see it to realise how hilarious it was) . Then they hold hands and cry at Children in Need. The Liverpudlian retired teachers, the gay couple in Brighton, the Asian family, the huge family, the two Afrocaribbean women from Brixton. A fabulous cross section of our society. Edited yes, but unscripted and spontaneous it makes great viewing.
They could all easily be written off as stereotypes but they have insight, humour, pathos and wisdom.
Especially when telling Gary Barlow fuck off.