My Conflicting Emotions Concerning The Only Way is Essex- Adrian Choa
TOWIE (I deeply resent using this abbreviation) is a hugely odious show. The mere opening notes of the theme tune is enough to make me feel physically sick as an involuntary, visual shit-storm of terrifying memories suffocate me.
Haggard, orange women, small dogs and greased biceps repeatedly punch me in the face as I try desperately to change the channel.
Yet for some reason I do not.
There is something in this 40 minutes of misery which keeps me coming back.
I believe this to be a sort of morbid curiosity/perversion. An enthralling hatred that causes viewers to continually shout at the screen, letting loose a series of obscenities directed at characters and plot-lines alike.
This latter target brings about the second instance of conflicting emotions I experience whilst watching the show.
We are all fully aware that the entire thing is staged right? Yet, I still find myself saying “why would she do that?” or “wow, he’s such a dickhead”: sentences which are inevitably followed with “well it’s all fake anyway…” just to reassure myself that I haven’t been drawn in. Efforts aren’t even made to suspend our disbelief, with nightclub scenes being personified by full studio lighting and the bizarre, sparse positioning of three of four punters about the large interior. This is a far cry from the immersive night vision and subtitles of such classics as The Hills (Adam DiVello, 2006) or The City (Adam DiVello, 2008).
I have concluded that the instinct which leads me to watch TOWIE is the very same instinct which leads millions of people to watch a man pummel a woman’s face on the tube after racial incitement. Or watch two women play with and then consume excrement. Or watch one part of N Dubz as the subject of a point of view shot.
This seems to be a shameful curiosity that has come to define the YouTube generation. I feel that this is perhaps a timeless human facet however, from the Gladiatorial Arena to Made in Chelsea. Perhaps it is a form of catharsis. A satisfying expulsion of frustration from afar.
Whatever it is, it fulfils my desire for an activity for those times when I wish to guarantee that 98% of my brain cells are not in use.