My stuff and your stuff: I write books, produce music, rant a bit, and in the meantime review things other people have done. With words.
At the arse end of humanity, ITV2. At the very bottom of the barrel, possibly underneath it, there’s Take Me Out, a dating show so cynically conceived, poorly constructed and egregiously populated that it should be put to death immediately. While we’re led to believe the paedo-presenters of days past are a threat to our civilisation, this is the real danger: a muckspreader firing raw, poisonous shite into the brains of anyone unlucky enough to see it.
Televisual atrocity Take Me Out: the double mastectomy of TV. But it's fun!!!! No, it's not. It's shit.
I’m home alone tonight, on the wine a bit, and have somehow happened upon this gross misrepresentation of entertainment. Hell, it’s even worse than The Voice (earlier I entered the room at precisely the point weird child-clown will.i.am failed to understand that terrific and horrific mean the same thing) and, quite possibly, signals the end of the world as we know it.
Combining the reality trappings of the horrendous The Only Way Is Essex with a narrator who must have the Samaritans on speed dial, TMO features youngish singletons entering into the ‘fun’ and attempting to find love in a room full of cameras. Amazingly, dentists and vets have a higher suicide rate than the soulsuckers who make this rubbish.
Blonde girl with big nose and fat ginger bloke are out for a three-pronged fork of an evening, beginning with a pre-date at which the bloke, being a fat ginger, clearly holds out hope while the lass says she likes him but only ‘as a friend’. So for the rest of the night (and it’s a long night) he holds out hope of a nosejob while she thinks ‘oh no, no, no, no…’ and then evidently turns to drink for comfort as she pretends to enjoy dancing with him.
Genuinely, she says ‘he’s got tiny eyes’ and mugs to the camera in the bit where they ‘talk about the date afterwards while it’s still happening temporal displacement’ but clearly she is entirely apathetic. It’s a disaster – but not so much for them as all creation.
Meanwhile, another couple (a thin ginger this time, but with a ridiculously foppish moustache) can’t stop snogging, having instantly fallen in love and talking about having kids together on their first date. She’s a spirited Geordie and he’s, well… pretentious.
A third date, taking place simultaneously, sees a young guy who’s instantly fallen for some oddly… no. No. Just fucking no. As if the idea of going on a date and having it broadcast on TV isn’t bad enough, just what are the people behind this wet fart doing?
Producers, presenters, writers, researchers, runners, editors, cameramen and women, gaffers and every other person involved with producing this diabolical trash: shame on you. I’m not talking wrist-slashing end of the line, but this is the double mastectomy of television.
But it’s not a special case: the real vaginismus of the matter is that almost all entertainment is throwaway now. I refuse to concede that this is just the view of a man in his 40s who has lost touch with what’s ‘cool’; no, this is simply truth. Why the hell is there an ITV2, or 3, or 4, at all? There’s even a channel called ITVBe, which seems entirely devoted to squeezing out massive televisual turds into our eye toilets. There are dozens of radio stations all playing the same music with yapping between songs. The entire western society is homogenised and even the subversive stuff has become run of the mill…
And now BBC3, another channel in the running for the best ‘hmm, what? Oh, no thanks’ award, has gone purely online, forgetting to wipe its arse on the way out. No need to admit defeat when the internet can host your sixth-form programming, catering to a demographic entirely of your imagination. I’m not saying everything on the channel is terrible, but the mere fact it exists and feels the need to keep going means it’s gone well beyond entertainment – it’s forced television.
Oh, hang on. Back to Take Me Out: The Gossip, now the girls are on a bed discussing the previous night’s goings on. In the cold light of sobriety, they somehow forget to turn their attentions to the subject of oversaturation: how because of the advent of cable TV in the US in the 1980s, the UK has ended up with a system where unless you pay a premium for decent TV you just get the vanilla channels and when you do pay that premium, nearly everything – and I’d estimate 99% of it – is landfill, but at the very least you do get to see those big ‘event’ shows that Sky TV ruined when it decided to monetise them.
Topping all this off, the girls and boys come back together for a post-date briefing, hosted by genius relationship psychologist Mark Wright from The Only Way Is Essex and someone else. Her name seems unimportant. They ask really insightful questions but forget that it’s probably only me watching. Then those two who were totally in love are now, at 23.44 on a Saturday night, playing out an exceedingly awkward ‘break up’ where the shallow ginger Scaramouche says he didn’t like the Geordie woman’s jokes. Bloody hell, man. She tolerated your spazzy facial hair and your rent-a-swagger, hanging your arms off the back of a chair like a fucking chimp while enthusiastically telling your incredulous friend you think she's 'the one' before dumping her horribly on national television minutes later.
ITV2’s remit is clear: do a massive turd, the type that doesn’t wipe properly and ends up with blood on the paper, then look back at what you’ve done, flush it (twice) and move on. Next on: The Ibiza Weekender. In just five minutes I've seen the human race devolve even further as knuckle-dragging sex fiends don't even try to justify their existence.
Television isn’t escapism anymore; it’s a wholesale replacement for integrity and dignity, one which considers the concept of not being a total massive waste of everyone’s time and kicks it to death.