Dramality bites: it’s Jersey Shire … or the Snookification of Sydney

http://nowwatchtvlive.org – You are now riding The Shire bandwagon. The show will be travelling at various depths through the gutters, clubs and bedrooms of Sutherland. Please keep your hands and feet over your eyes and in your ears at all times, assist small children into their tweens lingerie before donning your own undersized garments and please note the exits marked with the off button.

Oh, and get ready to embrace the word bogan.

In the middle of last Sunday morning, when cliché suggests Australia was strolling home from church, but more relevant stereotypes to this story would indicate just as many were doing the walk of shame home from an until-very-recently-stranger’s house, Channel Ten announced Australia’s maiden voyage into the world of ‘dramality’ with The Shire.

Nothing to do with Hobbits, nowhere near a spin-off from The Slap, this will be Australia’s Jersey Shore or The Only Way is Essex, which to non-MTV obsessives doesn’t really clear things up.

Ten’s Chief Programming Officer David Mott said in the statement that “The Shire is a glimpse behind the curtain into the heart of Australia as you have never seen it before.” Still not a lot there, but a hint comes in the rationale for the announcement. It was made after Ten discovered a leaked YouTube video in which fine upstanding … well at least standing upright members of the Shire community explained to potential advertisers and sponsors of The Shire that they wanted to be porn stars and night club owners, and couldn’t really wait to be filmed on their journey.

So what in the name of all that is shallow on television is “dramality”?

It’s a word now spouted by TV execs and pundits without blinking, which might be politely termed a term of art, and is more accurately thought of as mindless puff.

According to Wordspy the word was first used by Mark Burnett creator of Survivor to describe his then new show.

“The show’s producer, Mark Burnett, says that while Survivor has the trappings of a game show, it is “mostly a psychological story.” He says he thinks of the Survivor genre as “dramality” because it’s “drama meets reality”.” Wrote Matthew Gilbert in his article We like to watch, in The Boston Globe, May 28, 2000, and thus a butchering of the language was born.

What this means for us is a reality show (already a term that bears no relationship to the meaning of the individual words) that is filmed like a documentary, which basically means it’s Big Brother without the house. Instead the soon to be infamous Shire girls and boys will live their lives like a never ending before shot from Ladette to Lady, with producers contriving the best situations to bring out the worst in them. That’s likely to be where your Twitter and Facebook involvement lies. Hashtags become trashtags.

Assuming it is constructed like Jersey Shore the cast are paid, they are selected via internal casting and then moved into a big house together as housemates, to then live the life of the trashiest of soap operas in real life, in the real life Shire.

Be aware, these people are as likely to embrace the “bogan” label as shun it. When Jersey Shore first launched in the US the show advertised that it was looking for “Guidos (and Guidettes)” a previously derogative label that refers to Italian Americans. Some members of the cast, including the now infamous Snooki, had to fudge their Guido credentials to qualify, but did so with pride.

In England, two of the other dramality series to have emerged following the success of Jersey Shore have embraced such cultural slang in their titles – Geordie Shore has just gone into its second series, while sadly Desperate Scousewives only made it through the one.

In many ways The Shire is a disappointing name, in that it dispels any latent hope you might have that this will all be done with a nod and a wink, or even a vague tip of a neuron to the camera.

Then again, perhaps The Shire will be a different beast again. Another step forward (well, another step) down the path of new genres. What to call it though: Banality? Peroxymorons? Vapictures? Sham-wow? We’re certainly unlikely to get a lot of votes for Person-ality, but whether you like it or not, there are a few new bogan celebrities that you are likely to be able to name very soon.

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