Enjoying a movie is about connecting with characters. The ability to involve, immerse and almost intertwine your emotions with an actor is exactly what separates the Leonardo Di Caprio’s from the guys who play tree number three in the local pantomime.
The same applies for reality TV.
A quick glance at the rapid demise of Geordie Shore is enough to prove my point. The show has vanished from the loop of talked-about-TV and is thought to be failing with ratings on MTV – a channel that’s flagship is Just Tattoo Us. Sorry Gaz, Charlotte and Scotty T, but almost everything you once stood for in necking-on and banging birds looks set to perish. Oh, what a shame.
Perhaps it was Love Island 2017 that proved the turning point for reality TV series. It set a new bench mark. Since the introduction of Amber Davies, Kem Cetinay and Chris Hughes, audiences realised that they no-longer had to accept two-dimensional characters. Girls could be funny, sensitive and immature, and not voiceless ghosting sex symbols. And for the blokes, well not all of them had to be personal trainers or fitness models. Literally, a humorous hairdresser from Romford would do.
Yet when it comes ITV2 series Survival of The Fittest and it feels like a huge step backwards. A leap back to square one. Trying to differentiate any of the six guys – with their identical body-fat percentages, brawny sense of alpha male superiority and simple laddish banter – is like choosing a single brick from a large tan wall. Other than the shape and colour of said brick, there is nothing to aid your decision. Oh, and bricks are f*cking boring.
Nearly a week into SOTF and people still ‘don’t get it’. What a difference enjoyable characters would have made.
There’s nothing ‘to get’, to understand or to become involved with when it comes to most reality TV shows. Please, go ahead and explain what Made in Chelsea or TOWIE are about. I dare ya. The only thing we are supposed to withdraw from these reality soap TV shows is entertainment, and that falls down to the characters.
People are dissecting every small portion of Survival of The Fittest, tearing it up and exclaiming “nah this is pants”. The watches that contestants wear to receive ‘messages’ have been labelled knockoff versions of the retro mobile phones they used in Love Island. The SOTF assault courses have been brandished dull, repetitive and nothing more spectacular than the things you witness during an occasional Saturday afternoon Takeshi’s Castle.
What we should be talking about, six days into the show, is the gobsmacking revelations from one contestant to another. We should be gossiping about the unbelievable sass that sparked rivals into a near punch-up. We should be filling our lunch hour reciting hilarious one-liners from characters.
We want loveable rogues, fish out of water personalities and maybe just the one, the one piece of eye candy who does nothing but strut around with their bod out. One, not 12.
My favourite Tweet having attempted to gauge a reaction from the new Survival of The Fittest series read “WTF is with these people. We want Brian from Tesco”.
For once, perhaps social media is right. We have hit an age where we expect characters and personalities to be more than meretricious. The modern demand is for characters that are a reflection of our society, not only in looks but in personalities, fears, ambitions and challenges,
Brian from Tesco could actually be tree number three in her small town pantomime production.
But, in terms of reality TV, she would be our Leo Di Cap.