Scousewives: Desperate Stereotypes
We watch the first episode of E4's Desperate Scousewives. We did it for you. And we promise never to do it again.
Mahogany of thigh, and flaring of nostril, the whinnying thoroughbred that is Amanda Harrington undoubtedly shares some DNA with our city. But in last night’s debut of Desperate Scousewives it was hard to shake off the notion that she was anything more than a pantomime Red Rum who’s temporarily unseated its rider.
Chased around town by a field of willing fillies and greasy geldings, la Harrington tries, but spectacularly fails, to do that one thing that the rest of us find almost second nature – act naturally.
We shouldn’t mock. Ms Harringon’s good work for our city stretches back to the time she was known as the People’s PA – vigilantly alerting young jobseekers when it was time to sign on, or turn on the hydroponic system in the attic. We can’t imagine any other reason her calendar-buying public would care what day of the week it was. Still, last night, we were treated to the local celeb’s best moves, on the bed of a swanky hotel, with her mini-me, nurse-cum-calendar girl-in-waiting – and Abby Crouch-cousin – Chloe.
It’s something la Harrington’s used to. Her previous career consisted largely of tirelessly rubbing her rented polyester knickers over the hotel sheets of the city for Echo fashion spreads. Soon after her demonstration in the Malmaison, the cladding started to fall off the wall. God knows what it must be like to live underneath her.
Taking the TOWIE ‘structured reality’ format and importing it to our shores, the rules of Desperate Scousewives’ engagement are simple: take ‘real people’ follow their lives, and place them in ‘environments in which the narrative of their lives, and their emotional context will be played out’. Apparently.
But there’s a proviso: ‘Some scenes have been created for entertainment purposes’ we’re told.
That’s a matter of opinion. For the sad fact is, like the ersatz frocks and the Swarovski baubles, Desperate Scousewives is just a third rate copy – a knock off as disposable, cheap and tawdry as a counterfeit Prada handbag from the Stanley Dock market. It might smell a bit like TOWIE, might look a little like Made In Chelsea, but Desperate Scousewives is a fake bake – and no mistake.
Ironically, the one thing it proves beyond all doubt is that this roll call of castaways simply can’t do ‘structured reality’ – anyone with a Bright House plasma TV (we’re guessing that’s a good 2/3rds of the audience) could see their strings being pulled as the pitiful players were plonked into position. You can almost hear their botox brows breaking into micro furrows when the director shouts ‘show us some emotional context’.
Curious, when you think about it – acting is surely when they’re at their most comfortable. How else could anyone sit through the Juice FM Style Awards and not piss themselves laughing?
“Why do you get all this free stuff?” asks Chloe to Amanda, as they ‘shop’ in Ted Baker.
“Coz of my column. People just throw stuff at me. Free’s my middle name,” she whines.
Ms Harrington is indeed a woman of many talents. An esteemed journalist, her weekly column is commissioned by the Echo (we say column. We might, if we weren’t legally minded, say ‘begging letter for free shit’). But there can be few columnists working in Britain today whose Google results shoot up when you simply enter the search query “ + titwank”. We know for a fact that Jeanette Winterson’s positively plummet. The Echo – who’ve sadly shed many, many fine journalists over the past four years – certainly know which writers to keep hold of.
A complaint has already been lodged with the Advertising Standards Commission concerning Ms Harrington’s column: we think it’s unethical that Ms Harrington uses ‘editorial’ space to promote her own businesses, and that of her friends.
“We spoke with the publishers who explained that these were regular columns commissioned by them and that they had full editorial control and the power to remove any content that they wished,” the ASA told us.
Currently, in her column, Harrington’s hawking her ‘Become The Fase’ Competition: the chance to win the opportunity to be Amanda Harrington for the day. The entry cost for the competition? It’s £35.*
The British Model industry watchdog warns against such practices.“No legitimate modelling agency, scout or competition will ever ask you for money. If an agent sees real potential in you, they’ll get you snapped, and get their cut from the fees the model gets from future clients,” they say.
Miss England, the official English qualifier for Miss World, is free to enter. Obviously the chance for some hapless Saturday girl to become ‘Miss Amanda Harrington’ for the day is worth far more.
“They state that she is a freelance reporter commissioned by them to write this regular blog. They assured us that this was not an ad feature and that they simply missed this particular reference to the competition.” says the ASA.
“We didn’t know about this competition, but we’re looking into it,” says a spokesperson for Echo’s Woman’s Editor, Susan Lee.
*(Update: since this piece was written, the competition is now free to enter).
“People don’t see the other side of me, doing the school run. I’m just like any other mum,” Harrington says, as she sticks her index finger into her mouth and thrusts her mummy breasts over the edge of the four poster.
Elsewhere, a cast of grotesques provide characterisations so thin and soulless we’re convinced they’ve simply dusted down the figurines from Lewis’s grotto and brushed them up against the racks at Cricket.
Jaiden (He’s ‘Britain’s Bitchiest Blogger’ apparently. We’ve checked: he’s confusing wit with excessive use of exclamation marks. Oh, and he’s a man who says ‘I’m not being funny, but…’. I think that’s all we need to say about him) provides the dramatic denoument – tweeting nasty things about Harrington during the ‘Style Awards’. Honestly, even typing this stuff is making us want to slip into a warm bath with a Gillette Fusion.
Elissa Corrigan, describes herself as a ‘straight-talking journalist’. We’re not being funny, but anyone who calls themselves ‘straight talking’ is right behind Jeremy Kyle in the queue…
A couple of years ago, The Echo proclaimed Corrigan as one of Merseyside’s 25 Most Glamorous Women. She’s helped their arts editor, (then Culture Reporter) Catherine Jones, to write features in the past.
“Elissa is hackette by day and femme Tarzan by night, swinging through Liverpool’s urban jungle of bars, clubs and parties,” swoons the Echo. SevenStreets is offering a prize to anyone who knows what that sentence actually means.
Joe, Adam and Danny are the three musketeers, cheerfully talking about ‘eating meat from a buffet’ – but they’re not, despite their Viva Brazil location, talking about fine charcuterie. They’re talking about sleeping with a lot of ladies. Because they’re young. And free. And shallow, sickening and soulless.
Jodie’s returned from London – with a speciality up her sleeve. The Scouse eyebrow. It’s the most clunkingly cringeworthy piece of television this side of Richard Madeley’s Ali G impression, with a jaunty soundtrack straight outta The Planet’s Funniest Animals. Which fits, as the eyebrows resemble two skunks in a face-off.
“Now I can get my life back on track,” she says, after the eyebrow scores a hit with her employers – and, surprise surprise, the producers: who relish the opportunity to push another vapid and nasty stereotype into the public consciousness. And, in doing so, try their very best to push us back into the box labelled ‘thick northern scum’.
There is some salvation. As Amanda Harrington presents the award for ‘Most Stylish Scouser’ – there is a pause: ‘Coleen Rooney can’t be with us tonight.’
This might be the single most impressive thing Coleen Rooney’s ever done.
To survive, and to grow into the social media, Heat mag-memes they’re so desperate to become, programmes like this need to be car-crash compulsive viewing. Desperate Scousewives is no more of a blood rush than a bump on the Formby by-pass.
Move along, people. Nothing to see here.