Monday, 10 August 2015

The Appeal Of Made In Chelsea

As Made In Chelsea (now in its 9th season and having recently celebrated it’s 100th episode) continues to dominate UK television ratings every Monday evening, let’s take a look at just what it is about this show that manages to consistently draw in an audience. 

Twitter: Made in Chelsea
I’ll admit, it’s a guilty pleasure of mine although these days, as the scenes/storylines become increasingly staged, I watch it more out of habit and I am started to get a little bored of the show, finding it hard to stay fully engaged. I mean, there are only so many times "so-and-so-hooking-up-with-so-and-so’s-ex" can be an interesting plotline.

I was really into the storylines at one point though, but even then I was a late fan.

Prior to that, I remember my sister catching up with an episode and wondering how on earth she was so engrossed in such a slow-paced show with not much really happening; a show that was seemingly just full of awkward pauses and stilted dialogue to move the storyline along.

So, while I’ve managed to get into the show now, I understand why some might still be puzzled.

Much like I’m curious as to why Game of Thrones has such a captivated audience; I watched a few episodes and couldn’t get into it at all – at least to me, it just seemed like gratuitous sex and violence with not a single likeable character.

But anyway, Made In Chelsea is generally derided by television snobs, especially when they wonder how people manage to get so invested in a show which claims to be "reality" TV, when some of the scenes are clearly set-up.

While the authenticity of some of the show's scenes is indeed questionable, does that mean people can’t enjoy the show? Even if the situations are more fiction than reality, it can still be enjoyed just like any other television show.

The official stance from producers of Made in Chelsea is that the show is of the "scripted reality" genre - although the scenes are set-up (so the moments can be captured on camera), the issues and conflict that provide drama to the show are real. For example, if a couple on the show are shown to be having relationship issues, they are a genuine couple and this is a genuine argument or issue in their relationship.

And I think that’s where the appeal lies in the show, due to the characters and situations that people can connect with or relate to. Sure, the scenes and situations are set-up, but the people and conversations are real and once you get invested in a character or personality, you’re interested in watching a particular relationship or situation develop.

It’s not just romantic situations which are explored either (although they do create most of the drama in the show); the ups-and-downs of friendships are a common theme although admittedly, these tend to be secondary issues focused on in the show.

However, whether it’s due the personalities in the show maturing or running out of people to "hook-up" with, some of the situations or new relationships aren’t all that believable, which is definitely affecting how interested people are in the show; the last season had to be the most boring, yet.

It’s also hard to believe some of the relationship developments portrayed on the show, when a lot of these personalities are active on social media…and their Twitter and Instagram pages show a very different story.

Take the whole "Spencer cheating on Lauren" storyline in the last season. The way Lauren was smirking throughout his whole apology scene made it seem like this issue had specifically been created to add drama to the show. It would also explain why she didn’t seem particularly cut-up about it, and why the incident hasn’t dented their relationship; both are still posting lovey-dovey snaps on social media, so it seems their relationship is stronger than ever.

Weak storylines aside, the show does have strength in other areas. For one, the music featured in the show is GOLD, especially some of the indie covers - there are some right musical gems I’ve discovered, thanks to the Made in Chelsea soundtrack.

Each episode in the show opens up with a stand-alone quote from one of the characters too, and there have been some classic one-liners courtesy of the MIC cast, such as:

"Mate, nothing screams guilty like a random present" – Spencer

Twitter: Daran Little
"I have to learn to forgive…otherwise I’m gonna end up with no friends" – Lucy

From a production standpoint, it’s hard to argue the show isn’t beautifully shot: full of soft-focus/high-key depth of field shots, it’s like Instagram for film. Tumblr would be proud.

Props to the colour grader too, who has also managed to conceal the more grimier parts of London, making certain parts look more like Monaco… which I guess emphasises the wealth of characters and well, Chelsea.

And principally, that’s probably what initially drew in an audience - seeing how the wealthier upper-class in this country live, so we can look on enviously whilst simultaneously taking the p*ss out of their posh accents.

While some of the characters - sorry, personalities - probably aren’t as well-off as the show likes to make them out to be, the majority of them have had some sort of privileged upbringing, with many having close connections to the Royals.

So that’s another selling point of the show – it’s always interesting to see how different sections of society live.

When it really comes down to it though, what keeps people coming back every week are the "storylines" - the situations the characters are finding themselves in and the emotional fallout.

There will always be an audience for relatable situations, especially as more and more television content is reality-based. A pretty backdrop of London, as well as stylish on-screen personalities, (much like Keeping Up With The Kardashians) probably helps too.

I know my television gets more action when I loyally tune in to watch Made in Chelsea every Monday…even if I am usually doing something like checking my phone or Twitter-feed at the same time.

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