A few years ago, something worrying happened in the Hamilton household. Having successfully battled against the tides of reality TV washing in (We avoided Big Brother, I’m a Celebrity, Strictly and Celebrity Funeral Home) a new form of reality snuck onto our schedule. The scripted kind.
Soon we couldn’t avoid the adventures of people like Spencer and Proudlock -those horse named boys and horse faced girls from Chelsea became a must see. Modelled on The Hills in the US, it was reality TV that wasn’t really real. It was too polished, too improbable and too much to take. Obviously I hated it. And obviously, nobody cared. Fade Street stumbled after it like a drunk girl leaving Krystle -providing a more embarrassing portrait of Ireland than even Richie Kavanagh had managed.
Recently, advertising followed into this murky world of scripted reality. Now Colgate are presenting their carefully scripted focus groups as well-groomed reality.
Philadelpia are currently serving up a “real” family in our ad breaks, and guess what? Dad has to make the dinner (Wah! Wah! Wah!) and even though he’s a father (and therefore in advertising terms: sub-human), with the help of Philly even he can’t fail. Cue awkward end-of-sitcom laughter.
Documentary style ads can really work. A few years ago Powerade produced a strong campaign following the training schedules of “normal” people. But they never insulted the viewer’s intelligence by pretending to be something they were not. Scripted reality does just that.
Not that I’ll be watching or anything, but Made in Chelsea is back on our screens next week.