Now I should start with a confession. I don’t watch much TV. Doctor Who when its on; daytime television maybe; I’ve even been known to dabble in Britain’s Got Talent obsession (remember Stavros Flatley? My parents’ phone bill does…) But this was very different. This was Made in Chelsea.
Much like an outbreak of plague (I’d imagine…), I initially picked up a dazed and confused picture of what was happening. Apparently it was about real people, but also staged, and they were really rich, and really attractive, and called “Caggie”. As you can imagine, this was a bewildering array of information for a small-town boy. As any sensible young man would, I went to the pub.
However, as the weeks went on, the enchantment seemed to grow only deeper. Discussions were raised over the possibility of covering our lounge wall with photos of “Ollie”, who was apparently “majestic” and most definitely quite peculiar-looking. I realised I could run no longer… It was time to investigate.
Armed only with a laptop and a rapidly decreasing stock of masculinity, I sat down with my female housemates to watch an episode. I was late and missed the opening credits, and as I powered up my laptop I was met with suspicious looks. I was on enemy territory.
The premise of the episode was quickly established. The boys were going to organise a pool party to meet some ‘new talent’, because hanging out with the same girls all the time was becoming incestuous (just like an Oxford College! Maybe this wasn’t so bad…), while the girls were going to Paris, because what self-respecting person has a job.
A pattern quickly emerged; the boys would sit down and talk about the girls, and then we would cut to the girls doing the same about the boys. Occasionally there was a twist; one of the boys went on a date with a girl, and then told her she should not go back to university and should stay in London with him. This confused me.
As the coffees blurred together (along with adverts that I genuinely assumed were part of the show; especially with lines like ‘I’m not looking for a million things, just one perfect thing. Love’) the show began to draw towards a climax. The pool party arrived; the boys seemed to miss the point and continued their conversations about the girls rather than talking to any of the assembled ‘new talent’. There was however an all-male piggyback wrestling competition (avid attention from my house-mates), which culminated in a skinny-dipping forfeit (seriously, you’d see less lust in Park End).
As if this wasn’t enough drama, there was a further twist: majestic Ollie (who, one has to admit, has a fantastic array of facial expressions) takes his girlfriend up to the sofa in his roof-garden (seriously), and gets dumped. The room is shocked. Ollie’s make-up runs with tears. There’s only time left for a series of dramatic showdowns at the local cricket match (my doubts about the show’s realism aren’t dampened by the fact they’re apparently playing cricket with cameras on the pitch…) and it’s all over.
As the end credits rolled I had a chance to discuss the appeal of the show with my housemates. Initially they claim that it’s really funny, but when I pointed out they had barely laughed during the episode they begin to get to the heart of the matter. It’s like a pantomime; it’s light-hearted and full of ridiculous characters; it’s just a good excuse to get together and have fun.
I can’t say I’m convinced, but they do seem to love it. It seems like half the show is the same types of conversations any group of friends has, and the other half is adults complaining their second servant has gone on holiday and threatening to stay in London’s most expensive hotels so ‘Daddy will learn his lesson’ about providing for them. But as the weeks go by, it looks like its here to stay. Oh well, I guess at least there’s Ollie’s eyebrows.