Never lose a bet, especially when the punishment is watching Geordie Shore for the first time.
Which is not to say it wasn’t instructive. In fact, I was struck by two things. The first was that being on television now seems to make you the perfect subject for a television series. You don’t have to be particularly clever, or terribly interesting. It’s no longer necessary to be charismatic, or funny. All that’s necessary to become a television star is an aching desire to be a television star. Celebrity is eating itself.
That was the first thing that occurred to me. The second was a sincere hope that celebrity would eat me next.
Geordie Shore is genuinely, almost willfully, awful – a cacophonous riot of stupidity and self-obsession that’s a hair’s breadth from being a Mariah Carey concert.
Ostensibly a reality show – yes really – it stars a cast of swollen misfits who have so little to do with reality, I began to suspect they were extras in one of those David Lynch body-horror movies. I imagined them being grown in a lab, a clumsy mashing together of ego and id, their bodies moulded by a scientist like a child with too much putty.
This would certainly explain the way they talk. Each episode is thirty minutes long, and somehow the cast members manage to chatter away constantly without saying anything of interest at all. It’s amazing. In fact, at times I began to wonder if I’d somehow missed the point of the show entirely – and perhaps it was a post-modern critique on the vacuousness of modern celebrity.
Though it is a study of modern celebrity, it’s not a critique; it’s a celebration, the small screen equivalent of a little kid with chocolate around his mouth shouting “look at me, look at me.”
This cast are deeply, uniquely, unabashedly in love with themselves and their lives, and they think you should be too. Geordie Shore is the world’s biggest two-way mirror, the audience on one side, the stars on the other. But here’s the trick. Everybody gets to admire themselves in the glass.
Every second of Geordie Shore is an exercise in life validation. We peer at the lives of those who are more successful than us and laugh at the qualities their success has been built upon. The stupider they are, the more they preen and bicker, the better the show is, which is probably why it’s been so successful.
So there it is. I can’t recommend you watch Geordie Shore any more than I could recommend you give up reading, or repeatedly bash your head against a urinal wall. On the other hand, if you’re ten seconds away from taking a bath with a toaster, this could be the programme that saves your life. This is the show behind the glass. Break only in case of emergencies. Or else, it’s liable to break you.