From the show that polarised opinion all over the UK and created words such as ‘reem’ and famed for its ‘SHUTTT UPP’ line adopted by its fans all over the country, The
From the show that polarised opinion all over the UK and created words such as ‘reem’ and famed for its ‘SHUTTT UPP’ line adopted by its fans all over the country, The Only Way is Essex, or TOWIE as it is nicknamed, is back for a ninth series. A show that has been panned by critics of reality TV and even by its own residents for its negative representation of Essex, it begs the question: is TOWIE sheer brilliance or utter stupidity?
Perhaps it is the former. By playing on the conceived stereotype of Essex people as vacuous and unintellectual, TOWIE introduce characters that although may not know who the prime minister is (Joey Essex, anyone?) have in fact rather duped their viewers by creating their own businesses off the show and cashing in on their new found success despite appearing utterly clueless.
Earning a mere £40 a show, why do the characters insist on staying on when more money could be made by waitressing or bar work? These characters not only enjoy the adulation and fame that comes with reality TV but the creation of Lydia’s boutique ‘Bella Sorella’, Sam and Billie Faiers’ ‘Minnies Boutique’, Lauren’s cosmetics line ‘Lauren’s Way’ and not to mention the nationwide popularity of Sugarhut enjoying remarkable success suggests that these characters are earning far more than your average Essex boy and girl.
TOWIE have also arguably been at the forefront of trends, responsible for the rise of ‘Glamping’ (glamorous camping) and the rise of onesies favoured by students relevant at a point for fashion inspiration.
Producers of the reality TV show have also used the staging of the south-eastern city to increase tourism. Once thought as a beacon of hope for chavs, the show has enabled not only tourism but house prices to rise. With characters based in Brentwood, the show has enabled estate agents to put Essex on the map, once renowned for its association with white stilettos. For example, one property in Brentwood has risen by 5.8 per cent due to its association with the show from £404,067 to £427, 656 on average. The Sugarhut club haunted by members of the cast has led fans further afield to flock in the hope of seeing their beloved cast members.
TOWIE has also supplied viewers with a form of escapism after school, work or university lectures where viewers are drawn into this addictive world with loveable characters where lip gloss, vajazzles and boob jobs dominate and plots involving the scandalous sex lives and love lives tantalise the viewers until their next fix.
But perhaps it is this kind of discourse that has led to critics viewing it as a poor form of reality television. Its portrayal of a cast who find their lack of geographical knowledge humorous, such as ‘Is Pakistan the capital of India?’ (Amy Childs, ladies and gentlemen) but are able to direct people to the best plastic surgeons, shops and bars are is seen as bad taste, encouraging its younger viewers to favour homogeneity and the idealisation of looks as opposed to brains.
It may be utter stupidity to viewers who prefer a more heated intellectual viewing as opposed to the discussion of who’s got new boobs but TOWIE has set the precedence for reality TV.
Still not convinced? See you in Sugarhut.