If we were to declare a winner of the great scripted reality
civil war of this decade it would surely be Made in Chelsea. There
are only so many times you can watch Arg grease his nipples with
Vaseline or Joey Essex adjust his bulge. Give me Caggie's pout,
Proudlock's pointless earring and Rosie's hammy bitchfest any day.
Of course the premise is empty, vacuous and ridiculous but its
good, clean, escapist fun, right?
In this 'current economic climate' we need to know that
Londoner's are fleeing to Dubai for the weekend and that their
country piles are still standing for everything to be right with
the world. Ollie! Let me live vicariously through your flippant
purchase of a union jack embossed Jaguar. Spencer! Take me to your
airfield. Mark Francis! Let me nuzzle into your smoking jacket!
But, get down to the brass tacks and the things MIC affirm clash
wildly with what I like to think I stand for. So does that make me
a big, fat hypocrite?
There is minimal to no gay visibility in the show, Ollie Locke
is the only queer scripted-real-person. Ollie is perennially
unlucky in love and forever attracting stalkers, Top Shop heiresses
or men that back away from his affections. This series Ollie
decides to 'go gay for the summer', implicit in this remark is the
damaging notion that gayness is a phase or stage to opt in or out
of, a lifestyle choice.
Ollie goes to Soho and lands himself a date. Ollie and Chris
meet at a roller disco, Ollie leans in for a kiss (a difficult
manoeuvre on roller skates) and gets a 'Not now' in return. He
retreats to the safety of Chelsea and the arms of Binks and Cheska.
In a date de-brief he admits to feeling 'lonely'. Now all this is
very upsetting, but I find it hard to suspend my disbelief long
enough to possibly believe that Ollie has never dated a man. He has
nipple length hair that glosses like a puffin in an oil spill and
hardly lacks confidence. The roller disco debacle was likely a
storyline dreamt up by the producers.
What is depressing is that they decided to portray being gay as
something that leads to unsuccessful romantic outings and
ultimately loneliness. It would have beensoeasy to manufacture a
different outcome to Ollie's 'first' foray into same sex
MIC doesn't fare a lot better with sex and class. The women
mostly care about how the men perceive them. Though in fairness the
men are equally concerned with the same thing. In two series' we've
had storylines involving love triangles (Hugo, Millie, Rosie)
(Jamie, Louise, Spencer). In both instances the cheating man has
emerged untarnished, the woman blamed.
The majority of episodes feed off women bitching about other
women. Bitching is a competitive sport in Chelsea. Watching Rosie
and Victoria trying to outbitch each other for more airtime is sort
of satisfying, sort of sad. Getting women to hate themselves and
more importantly to hateother womenis the oldest trick in the book
I know all this, but still I tune in every Monday. I take it for
what it is, a window into a world of money, privilege and shiny
hair few of us know anything about. The ideals are a little iffy,
but as a spectator sport MIC is unbeatable.
Made In Chelsea, Mondays, 10pm, E4