Wednesday, 4 July 2012

Welcome to The Shire of Bogan

The ads have started, and it's going ahead. Channel 10’s 'The Shire', looks to be exactly as anticipated: A show about vain 20-something nobodies with delusions that a being on a reality show is a career path. It'll all be here. The Ed Hardy t-shirts. The word 'hectic'. The Southern Cross tattoos. The Jetstar specials. The horror of the modern bogan.

The Shire has been touted as an Aussie version of Jersey Shore. But with the state of channel 10’s budgets (they’ve been using the same cardboard cut-outs on the sets of Neighbours for decades), there’s not much that Channel 10 can buy their newest stars that will push their lives into anything beyond suburban mundane. Aside from the obligatory bikini babes to keep the teenage boys interested, there's not much for anyone else to tune in to.

So what will be the hook for this show? What will make people watch? Reality tv shows need to have something that keeps people tuning in. Are the Shire’s (ahem) ‘stars’ famous? No. Are they rich? No. Do they lead exclusive lives? No. Are they interesting people? Hell No. Even the most maligned reality shows have a reason which makes people want to watch the lives of their stars. Paris Hilton & K-Dash – Rich, famous, exclusive. Laguna Beach & The Hills – Rich, exclusive. Jersey Shore – Exclusive (albeit thanks to MTV’s $$).

So it looks like they’ll have to rely on manufactured drama (which will need to be edited when the hot heads inevitably start throwing haymakers at each other after too many Bundy and Cokes), cut-aways to crashing waves and seagulls, and Masterchef style recaps of what just happened. Wait for the tie-in with Lara Bingle’s show to boost the ratings (for both shows). Channel 10 will hope that the combination of the two shows will be greater than the sum of their parts.

As for reality, well no one actually thinks that reality tv is real anymore. The setups, editing and scripts have turned the genre into 'dramality'. But how will this work when there is nothing interesting about the people, situations, or stories of The Shire? Would you stop on the street to listen to bogans talk about how smashed they were last night? Or listen to them rating whatever girls have the misfortune of crossing their line of sight?

Where is this 'Shire'? Is it a mysterious place on the edge of a hidden paradise? No. Its Cronulla. A suburb of Sydney. Calling it 'The Shire' is obviously a ploy to make it sound more exciting than it is. Does anyone really call it the Shire? The last person I knew of who said they were from The Shire was a hobbit on a road trip with a ring and a little bald troll chasing him down yelling out “precious”.

Welcome to the Shire. Get off my beach.
Channel 10 is claiming this show is to show the 'heart of Australia'. But its more like what naive tourists would like to think Australia is. Bronzed pretty people who sit around all day in the sun. I wonder if they have a minimum number of times the cast will have to say “mate”. As I look out my office window into the freezing and busy concrete of Melbourne’s CBD, it seems The Shire's version of Australia is about as true to life as the fact that we hitch rides to work in kangaroos' pouches.
The mark of the well travelled

The truly sad thing about this show is that it celebrates many things that just shouldn’t be celebrated. It will be full of arrogant bogans who think their Southern Cross tattoos and Bintang singlets from Bali; self infatuation and incomprehensible accents; and ignorance to the rest of the world are something to be admired. These are the obnoxious idiots who ruin your night when seated near your table at a restaurant. The embarrassing loudmouths overseas that you cringe when you realise they share the same passport as you, and pray that the locals don’t think you’re like them.

If Channel 10 wants to showcase the Aussie surf culture, why not follow some of Australia’s pro surfers on tour? That would check off all the ingredients for reality tv – rich, talented and famous people with exclusive and interesting lives, living most people's dream job.

Instead we get a bunch of obnoxious nobodies with nothing to do who think they are a somebodies with something to do.

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