In which I try again to make it through an episode of so-called reality TV called Geeks on E4, starring a bunch of particularly nice people who are Geeks, and thus undeserving of my respect as human beings.
If you’d read my review of last week’s episode of E4′s Geeks, you’ll be surprised to know that I couldn’t physically make myself watch the entire hour. I’m somewhat proud to say that, with much inner screaming, I made it to the end of this one. But that is most certainly not to say that I enjoyed it. Again, I don’t know how this genre is so popular. I find the whole format just completely and utterly unwatchable – so artificial, with quick cuts and shoddy music on top of narration which is taking such great pains to point out how there’s nothing worse than a bunch of girls who like reading books, or boys who play video games. Genuinely the only place I’ve heard the word ‘bookworm’ in the past ten years is as the title of a game by PopCap; they were really grasping at straws in order to ‘label’ the girls this time around weren’t they?
But again, we’re faced with the ‘awkwardness’ of boys meeting girls, and both groups’ initial reticence to socialise, and the narrator’s acting as if they’re lepers because they aren’t pole-dancing within three minutes of arriving at a nightclub.
To be really pedantic about the way this is shot, here’s an example of a scene. Party guru Matt is explaining to the gang that they’ll be going to a boat party – which I won’t go into details on, but suffice to say it looks staged and fake as all fuck – to which they appear just to sit and gawp at him. It could so easily be the case, however, that this is simply a shot of the room ten seconds before the director told them that the camera was rolling! I can’t get past how obviously staged all of this is – why bother doing it if you’re just going to fuck with the results in the editing suite?
This manipulation is best spelled out for me in two different scenes: the first being when the two groups of geeks are introduced by the pool, and the second at the end when Al and Louise kiss in the nightclub. The first one is supposedly awkward, but I personally found the second much more so. At the pool the faint sound of birdsong is super-boosted to demonstrate the supposed silence between the groups – as is the fact that they keep saying “this is awkward” over and over again – but when the camera lingers just one or two seconds too long on them kissing in the club, that to me feels a lot more awkward; invasive even, much more so than a bunch of strangers who are shocked to find they’re not holidaying with just their mates.
And again, the introductions:
“So, what are your hobbies?” – this, supposedly the very, very first line of dialogue from one of the guys. So ridiculously constructed; as if they’re being fed lines from an impatient director who needs to speed along the awkwardness.
So, those geeks hit the town and, between a fear of being touched by humans (Louise says she’s come to expect the worst from people, places and things – herself a girl after my own jaded, cynical heart) and the sight of said humans rubbing up and down on each other, apparently we’re to judge them for choosing a quiet corner away from the mayhem – again, as if any ‘normal’ person wouldn’t find this the slightest bit bloody intimidating.
The next day, there’s a hint of romance in the air, but rather than just allowing us to see it for ourselves during a fairly standard salad preparation scene, there’s the sound of touchy-feely music swirling in the post-edit atmosphere as if we’re too stupid to connect the dots ourselves. Perhaps we are though because the narrator pounces right on it, the patronising prick. If this were any other reality TV show, they’d never get away with such heavy-handedness. Now I’ve never seen an episode of Made in Chelsea but judging by the adverts, these hints of romance and longing glances are all that ever fucking happens – but I bet that programme doesn’t have to be soundtracked by cheesy violins and punctuated by moronic jokes from voiceover does it?
Oh no, sorry, I forgot; the people in this programme are clearly losers and fodder for your righteous mockery and scorn, as evidenced by more voiceover when they’re shown to their very own VIP area at the next club.
“Is it still a VIP section if it’s only got our eight geeks in it?” he asks. Well, you’re narrating the TV show that they’re starring in, so why not make up your fucking mind? Are you trying to make us feel sorry for them or judge them?
The hypocrisy continues as Chris – luggage-less for most of the episode and so falling back on black – finally works up the courage to hit the dancefloor, and then has his sweet dance moves immediately rubbished by Edmondson – so basically, you’re damned if you do, and damned if you don’t. If you don’t want to join in, you’re a loser – but when you get up and try to get involved of your own volition, you get more abuse.
(“Classic lads’ holiday banter”, says Edmondson sarcastically after the boys return from buying Chris some replacement clothes with sombreros and rubber rings, but I for one actually found said ‘banter’ to be warm and friendly, as opposed to the near-psychological traumas you’d normally find under the Banter category.)
Even at the end, when we’re learning from the geeks themselves not to judge a book by its cover – which by the way if anyone needed to learn, it wasn’t them – he’s still giving them shit from Voiceover Tower. Even when they’re trying to be sincere, he’s still negging them. It appals me, it really does. As nice and friendly a group of people as you could ever hope to meet, this lot were, and yet the programme is still trying to distance Us from Them like they’re the plague. I just don’t get it. I don’t get it at all. It’s actually pretty fucking depressing when you think about it – but hey ho, the geeks got their holidays, the guy got the girl, and we’ve got…jesus, Made in Chelsea up next.