So Made In Chelsea won a BAFTA. Seriously. This is not a joke. This is a fact. One that suggests we all need to sit down and have a long think about the meaning of life. And the future of humanity. Which, given the aforementioned fact, is probably bleak.
Responses have, predictably, ranged from outrage to…well more outrage. Graham Norton responded snappily ‘They were insufferable before– what are they going to be like now?’ and Alan Sugar tweeted in a fit of jealous pique ‘Young Apprentice did not win a BAFTA tonight. Made in Chelsea won. Can’t believe it.’ Twitter pretty much exploded.
And outrage is certainly a natural response. Because this is a show which essentially just follows rich people around and watches as they…well…are rich. The characters are fairly vacuous (Millie? Cheska?) when they’re not downright despicable (yes Spencer, we’re looking at you). The dialogue is beyond stilted; apparently being rich negates your ability to speak in actual sentences without using the word ‘like’ every third word. And let’s not even get started on the way they portray their female characters: the whore-virgin dichotomy is so overused it’s actually wearing thin. Everyone took great delight in tearing down whiter-than-white Kimberley, Louise is constantly lambasted just for being in love and crying a bit, and Lucy is presented as a witch just because she doesn’t fall at Jamie’s feet. This is not great TV. On this, I think we can probably all agree.
But. It is sinfully addictive. Trust me, I know. I’m hooked. And what’s more, its plot may be drivel and its characters grating, but by heavens it’s got good production values. The camera work is excellent. Honest to God, all those serious TV dramas could learn a thing or two. And we have to give them kudos for making the most of shooting in London – true, nobody actually breaks up by a river, but it did mean we could watch the Thames instead of Spencer’s face, which is a blessing indeed. What’s more, the music on this show is amazing. Seriously, what other show on TV will play Alt-J, Daughter, Foals and Bastille in one episode? And you can’t pretend it’s not popular: 950 000 people tuned into the premiere of Season 5, and it’s Channel 4’s most tweeted about programme (lest we forget, these people know how to work the social media!).
So what we have here is a show about not really very much, but that looks really good. It’s the ultimate victory of style over substance, which in all honesty, sums up the show and its characters pretty well. The question needn’t be why people prefer slick production over substantial plot, it can be why anybody hasn’t yet managed to combine the two. Because MIC’s competition, in the highly contested category of Best Reality and Constructed Factual was The Audience, I’m a Celebrity…Get Me Out of Here! and The Young Apprentice. Go figure.