Before it even begins you are warned “This programme contains flash cars big watches and false boobs”. Despite the obvious punctuation error which I shall graciously overlook, The Only Way Is Essex, starts as it means to go on: In a cringe worthy, boasting manner. Filmed in Brentwood, the show follows the lives of varying Essex characters.
For example, a screen favourite is the stereotypical ‘Lady’s Man’ Mark, who just so happens to be the best friend of Jade Goody’s-ex Jack Tweedy, and the endless turmoil of his love life. He’d been dating the irritating Lauren since their teenage years, got with 19 year old glamour model Sam who looks ten years her senior and is now seeing younger girl Lucy who looks about fifteen. Each of these girls has their own charming characteristics which are emphasised in the scenes that quite possibly could have been entirely set up for the viewers’ entertainment.
Yes, that’s right. This is another series from The Hills’ School of Docusoaps where the audience are left guessing which of the scenes are real and which are completely hyped up for a reaction. All the characters, or ‘real people’ as the titles like to emphasise, have annoying sides to them. Actually they have annoying fronts and backs as well. They all know how to irritate and yet find it oh so easy to be irritated at others.
Essex is painted as a county of parties, glamour and vajazzling, but I can’t help feeling that other local residents will be more than a bit annoyed at these stereotypes. I live forty five minutes away from Brentwood in neighbouring Hertfordshire and have never known it to be as awful as the show makes out. From my memories, it is town with a decrepit High Street and annoying road works.
Although many Essex stereotypes are pretty accurate, programmes like this do nothing but encourage them. And they really don’t need to be encouraged. The show features characters talking about how everybody wants to live in Essex. I’m sorry blondie, but I don’t. Not in your version of Essex anyway. There are plenty of lovely areas of the county, but the aspects of Essex life that the directors have chosen to focus on are very distant from what I believe to be the reality.
So is Essex the only way? No. The programme, which has finally ended until series 2, is awful and makes me wince every time any of them open their mouths. Yet I still found myself watching every episode. I hate myself for it, but there’s something about TV this appalling that you just have to tune in to.
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