Friday, 19 September 2008

The Family

No self respecting tv-lover should have missed Wednesday night's 'The Family' a fascinating fly-on-the-wall look at the everyday life of a British family. A documentary once made, one revolutionary has been reborn in an age of cheap, desperate reality television.

Saying that, I nearly missed it, I was luckily because I came home to see it being repeated later the same evening. I was however, a little bit tipsy and though I had many a comment in my head that night, two days later it's gone.

'Why don't you 4OD it and then bother us with your thoughts' I hear you cry. Well, I can't be arsed so I'll try and piece whatever memory I have of the show and my thoughts on it together, excruciatingly.

Firstly, I remember being quite fascinated by the way they really looked like a family. I mean, they all looked alike. I found that incredible, that on our screens, on a daily basis we are faced with fake families and here they were, really, very real. It struck me and I realised just what this show was capable of: reality.

The focus was the mother's looming birthday and the eldest daughter's total irresponsibility. It was a classic scenario where the mother feels unappreciated, she feels old and disconnected, her daughter doesn't want to be around her and the rest. It reflected my own experiences in a lot of ways, in spite of the situation being completely different. No doubt I'd imagine everyone could relate and reflect each in their own special way.

My personal alliance lied with the younger siblings, the young boy who remained quiet, doing everything to please, trying to be nice but getting it thrown back in his face. It's trouble being the young one, the quiet sensible one. You get lumbered with the suspicion when you're older because your sibling lied and argued and shouted, but all the while you're honest and try to keep on the good side, not wanting to rebel. That's how I saw the boy, the way he didn't even know what to do with himself a lot of the time, quiet...silenced.

I liked it because I'm a voyeur but also because I'm human. Seeing the utterly, abysmally normal is quite satisfying. Seeing successes and failures and seeing the poignant moments where daughter and mother reconcile like the good friends they know they are inside. I feel like the family agreed to do it because they know it's not embarrassing really. They're aware that everyone in every average family will be able to read what's going on perfectly, no judgements, just sympathy.

I do wonder what happened (no, I haven't tried to research it), did they nominate themselves? Were they found for being statistically average? (wasn't that a Simpsons episode? Or Family Guy or something?). How did they agree? Did anyone kick up a fuss or did the media-whore in them get the better of them?

Then, saying that, I don't feel like that fame criticism is there, I'm not sure why but there's something else to it, perhaps the true reality aspect which nulls the whole celebrity hunger bullshit. Maybe they just saw it as important.

Is it important? Is it important for us to watch a family as they plod through their days, struggling at parenthood, struggling with adolescence, struggling with the very essence of the everyday? What does it achieve? I know I (drunkenly) felt some affection towards them through my empathy. But do we need it on our screens? And is it still revolutionary now?

I suppose it could be, because it reverts to the simple and it reminds us of what is missing, if we must be so obsessed with the reality format, then we should return to this level, the Big Brother Series 1 approach of shove some people in a a house, let them read if they want to and don't play stupid tricks on them all the time. It just brings us back to a question of purpose for television; public service or commercial. What do people needs vs what do people want?

I have no answers really, but I'll certainly keep watching, maybe I'll start to figure it out.

Thursday, 11 September 2008

When Women Rule the World

What an absolute pile of shit. I've never been so utterly abhorred by a piece of programming. I like trash telly, trash telly is why I started this blog, but this is appalling. I just can't get to grips with the concept; I can't see what the idea was derived from; I can't envision a producer's desired outcome. I watched it because my flatmates told me how awful it was and I wanted to see for myself. I watched it because I couldn't begin to believe that there was no comedy in it. I can only relay, just like my flatmates did to me before, that there is no comedy, no irony, nothing.

'When Women Rule the World' is an attempt at creating a tribal 'society' on an exotic island where ten women get to tell a number of men what to do. Each woman has their own servant, she their mistress. They tend to her needs, apparently, though you see little of anything except mindless bickering and inconsequential revolts from a hand-picked bunch of prize buffoons.

It is absolutely not a sociological gender-role swapping experiment, I'm sure if it was it would be prime time Channel 4 because they like messing with things like that. I'm not sure it claims to be that anyway, but then I'm really not sure what it's doing, it's certainly not funny, a point I can't help but reiterate. It doesn't seem to want to represent any one gender as 'better' but rather depicts a whole bunch of idiots who have obviously got nothing better to do than run around in hardly any clothes. Shipwrecked does it too but at least they don't assume intelligence, they know we know they're stupid. These people perhaps, do not. No gender is winning any popularity contest by being in this show. The women at times go on a ridiculous power trip, demanding all sorts of pointless things and claim the men are condescending them, taking it all rather too seriously. Whilst the men get way too macho way too often and try to play practical jokes and talk about whether or not they'd want to sleep with any of the women, and also take it all rather too seriously.

The only hint at favouritism comes from an otherwise unnecessary Steve Jones, his pointless unfunny narration tries to play with gender stereotypes but really doesn't try very hard and fails, big time. In fact, it makes the entire programme much less funny than it previously was, which was not funny at all. He occasionally has a manly chat with the men, laughing and joking about the situation with the women and here he shows where his loyalty lies.

The 'sacrifice' is probably the most ludicrous part of the whole thing only because it is so ridiculous it merely epitomises the show in its entirety as an enormous pile of vile stinking, I-must-smash-everyone-involved-in-the-making-of-this-show, faeces. In this 'sacrifice' each woman gets to say her piece and nominate one of the men, this week Mikey an irritating young Liverpudlian with irritating blonde hair swept back with an irritating piece of elastic, lead the boys in a practical joke involving conditioner and condoms. What made him and it more irritating was that he was completely unsuccessful because one of the women went to bed before he could begin planting the seeds, so to speak. The other man on the chopping block was Steve, a muscular type who ensured the men got the booze they deserved, completely breaking the rules made by the women. The woman pick their sacrifice by slapping some paint on their chest, all tribal like, then the queen ultimately decides. In the end one of the blokes wins £30,000, I'm not really sure what for though.

I didn't give a shit who was going, I didn't give a shit because I didn't particularly want to watch the fucking piece of arse so far in, it lasts a whole hour! But I did, because I realised that I had to watch it all before I could really post a full and frank review.

If you want to know, Steve was shipped out, as declared by the idiot queen even though most nominations pointed towards Mikey.

Really though if I were you, I wouldn't go near it, I wouldn't give it enough time to get angry about it, it's not worth it. It is completely absurd, everyone is stupid and it just goes to show the complete idiocy of humankind, and by this I refer not just to the bunch of used nappies on the show, but also to writers, producers, September films or whatever the production company is and every other fucking tosspot who allowed it to be aired.

I'm all for jokes, I'm all for playing around and taking the piss out of gender stereotyping, I'm all for total irony for the sake of total trash television, but this? What the fuck was this? It does nothing, everyone takes the whole thing too seriously and now I'm left completely unable to laugh at it. I was hoping the 'writer' Richard would at least have a bit of sense but instead, he tried to be the big clever one and absolutely failed to start a strike and started talking about Animal Farm at the women, proclaiming along the way that they probably won't have read it. NEITHER HAVE I, WHO CARES? YOU'RE AN IDIOT FOR BEING THERE. If you were intelligent then you would leave. Simple.

The worst part it, I can feel myself watching it again, for want of something better to do, and getting angry all over again. If I do, I hope things start to get funny, maybe that's just the nature of the show? It takes time to get the irony? No? I didn't think so either.