Tag Archives: obsessions

Fads and Obsessions: Scripted Reality Bites

28 May

In my role as what passes for an amateur journalist these days, I’ve noticed that nobody does fads and obsessions quite like Britain.

For a start there is Brits’ preoccupation with the weather. This seems a shame as for much of the year Britain is known as “Europe’s car wash”. Though because good weather doesn’t come around very often, it does give Brits an enviable appreciation of the sunshine. Like the way I feel about eating lobster.

Then there’s the whole football (soccer) thing. I like football, and I wouldn’t mind this obsession if it didn’t encompass everything from game results right down to every player’s latest legal misdemeanour, or “team bonding session” (eeeeeeew!).

Which brings me neatly to the football player’s natural harvesting ground. Television. It seems that for a while now Britain has been gripped by something termed “scripted reality”. The chief offenders in this genre are shows you’ve probably heard of like The Only Way is Essex and Made in Chelsea. Or if you prefer your perfectly-framed reality with funny accents, Desperate Scousewives.

To give you an idea of what the show looks like (if by some happy chance you’ve managed to avoid this assault on intelligence), here is a shot of a typical scene.

Realising she’d bought ebony shoes instead of black, and would have to return them.

I’ve also taken the liberty of transcribing a passage of scintillating dialogue. I can’t be bothered finding out the names of these “real script readers”, so they’ll be called Burberry 1 and Burberry 2:

Burberry 1: I might try these on but I don’t know what size to get.

Burberry 2: What size are you normally?

Burberry 1: I’m a size nine but I might get a size seven.

Burberry 2: Why?

Burberry 1: It’ll straighten ’em out so they look proper fresh.

Burberry 2: Is that what you do, buy ’em smaller so they don’t crease?

Burberry 1: Yeah but everyone does that don’t they?

Burberry 2: No.

I wish I could say I made that up myself. Anyway, it seems to me the whole idea of reality is that its unscripted. Surely another name for “scripted reality” is a term that’s been bandied about the industry for a few years now. Drama. Though I’m sure we could think of a more accurate and less flattering one if we tried.


If you’re going to simulate reality, you best know and understand the subtle differences between reality and drama. For instance, here is a “scripted reality” meeting between myself and Noel Gallagher:

ME: Hey Noel, can I get a photo?

NOEL: Hey man, yeah why not? In fact, come down to our hotel with us for a pint and meet some women with questionable morals.

ME: Nah mate, I would but I’ve gotta get back to write a travel blog entry. Those Ludacris links don’t put themselves in there, ya know.

NOEL: Come on man, you can come to the gig later and hang backstage with us!

ME: Do you have wifi?

NOEL: Yeah.

ME: Alright then.



To highlight the difference, here is what happened in reality:

ME: Hey Noel, can I get a photo?

NOEL: Fuck no.


TV drama connoisseurs will no doubt have picked the subtle differences, the rest of us are stuck in blissful ignorance of what’s real and what’s “scripted real”.


Safe travels, thanks for reading. J