The Shire

On a positive note, the production values looked pretty good.

There, now that we have gotten that out of the way, can we talk about The Shire?

In fairness I don’t think I am really the target audience, but I do have a TV and eyeballs and right now that makes me part of TEN’s target. Let’s face it, aside from an improved season of MasterChef and (the concluded but wonderful) Offspring there’s not a lot to watch on the network lately: Being Lara Bingle,  Last Man Standing, The Finder, Breakfast, movie reruns, Modern Family reruns, NCIS reruns… jump in here anytime.

The Shire has copped a barrage of publicity before hitting the screen. I can’t remember the last time a show had this much press before it had even finished production. As a result, I fully expect the ratings to reflect our curiosity.

Cronulla, Sylvania Waters and its surrounds looked glorious on the small screen. There’s no racist riots here -in fact it’s a charmed life of surfing, spray tans, waterfront McMansions, cashed-up bogans, parties and a perpetual weekend. There’s no sign of a struggling middle class, no shortage of housing, and barely an elderly citizen in sight.

What it does have is plenty of pretty twenty-somethings, who by all accounts are also pretty vacant. Two of the girls wear their vanity like a badge of honour.

“I could never live without my lips,” says Vernessa – or possibly Sophie (does it really matter which?). “My goal is to make everyone in The Shire skinnier.” Over-sprayed and over-collagened, they are clearly meant to be the comic relief here. I just found them annoying.

Dashing Mitch has model looks but was happy to invite his former girlfriend Gaby to a party also attended by another ex-girlfriend. Nice. Did he at anytime think the Story Producers, hired from The Only Way is Essex, were setting him up for a love triangle gone wrong?

Beckaa-with-two-Aas is the nearest the show has to a Paris Hilton wanna-be. Flying in from Dubai where she’s just paid for a new nose (as you do), she is collected by Daddy in his limousine. “Did you miss me?” he asks. “I missed your credit card,” she answers. “Arabs like to shake… the bling bling.”  This is the only time any subtext ever emerges through the screen, with awkward non-PG thoughts about Daddy and daughter now racing through my PG-timeslot mind. I have no idea where Mummy is but I think she got out while she knew what was good for her.

Just as concerningly, Beckaa-with-two-Aas has two camp pals, Kris and Stace, who don’t mind saying one thing to her face, but telling the cameras later, “She kind of looks like a pig.” Message: gay best friends are really bitches deep down. Nice #2.

Music wanna-be Rif Raf sprouts lines that are ripped straight from Angry Boys: “Emotionally disturbed bitch.. yeh bro… sick man.” Annoying #45.

Throughout the muddled, busy, set-up episode, there were endless shots of boobs and tubes, party boys who probably wandered off the set of Corey Worthington’s Facebook rave, aerial shots of sparkling estates, traffic montages and a frenzied storytelling pace. There were also too many characters, with blondes blurring into blands.

But the biggest concern was how “unnatural” everyone was.

I get that these are non-actors steered in unscripted scenarios, but boy they have no finesse in appearing relaxed. Some try too hard to ramp it up for the cameras, which lacks authenticity. Others, in particular the parents, are so awkward they don’t appear to understand the genre. Who can blame them? We might be in Sylvania Waters mum, but we’re a long way from Sylvania Waters. If we could start again as a mockumentary there may be something here…

The Shire strikes me as being suitable fodder for a foreign audience, which may well be the underlying agenda. The locations shimmered in the sun and the soft-Shine-focus. The characters are so stereotyped as to work as car-crash telly for international audiences already weaned on the genre.

But Aussie audiences will call you to account if you’re not being honest with them, and that’s where this falls down.

I struggled to find the likeable characters who will draw me back each week. Fatally, there is also no humility to be seen. I remember a nation falling in love with Marty & Jess’s romance on Big Brother, because it wasn’t manufactured. Here I doubt I will believe what is put in front of me.

The Shire will undoubtedly polarise audiences, and TEN has to hope there will be enough who are suitably appalled / amused /sucked in for it to fire. Because, like the Cronulla beach tide, there is another wave of content coming and its name is Big Brother.

The Shire airs 8pm Mondays on TEN.

42 Comments:

  1. i dont no nothing about this series and i havnt been watching it at all.. only on the aca current afairs on the issue debate on this series.

    What can i say… australia is not like america style where u se ladies dress like that and guys dress like gangs… Seriously that is of another country… Australia is more nicer more smarter and defently more respectfull in a kewl way.. Not making it out wanna be american gang styles.

    I dought the series will last for much longer… they will get low ratings channel ten has hit the nail again…. they could just make new things instead.. why make a dirty series.. Its all botox and such.. australians are not like that in reality… well.. defently not as high profile as these in the series thats for sure…. channel ten.. you fail my expectation im sorry.

  2. This will hopefully be gone by the end of the ratings year – another great success for the shareholders of ten who must be wondering if they will ever see a dividend from the bad programming that keeps on happening at ten ……….

    Perhaps it’s time for a people’s revolt and ask for ten programmers to resign ……..

  3. Oh whatever this is clearly aimed at a younger audience…. & its the way tv shows are going. Whether it lasts the test of time thats another story. American tv has done it to death now we are on the same band wagon.
    There’s so much on free tv & then there’s Foxtel.
    Everything is aimed at showing more boobs & bums for ratings
    Masterchef is the only reality show left worth watching & that can also stray abit.

  4. There doesn’t seem much point in owning a TV anymore. The ABC has lost the plot, the commercial stations have rendered any half-decent shows unwatchable by butchering them to pieces (and the un-butchered versions can be downloaded anyway). So after the Tour de France finishes next week, does anyone want to buy my Samsung 40″ LCD?

  5. There is something contrived and artificial about this show. The characters are not credible and ACA has already exposed them as fake and trucked in from out of town. The plotlines are also lame.

    Sylvania Waters in 1992 had a warm, homely credibility about it. We lived with the characters and empathised with them. It seemed real because it was. The Shire is as artificial as the Botox injected into the lead actress’s lips.

  6. I didn’t see due to work schedules but caught the shots and read the reviews.You couldn’t sell it to the Americans not in a million years.Even Tori Spelling would find it cringeworthy against anything her late father created.

  7. Delivered TEN the demos – isn’t that what it’s all about? They must be loving all the controversy – was that the Warbler’s plan. I’ll predict a bigger audience next week…..and some bigger boobs too 🙂

  8. Talking about Big Brother, it seems to me like The cast of The shire are the ones Nine are rejecting for BB. It will be intersesting if viewers will watch normal people on BB or the fake ones on The Shire.

  9. I only watched until those two Snookie wannbe’s started talking about their lips and turned back to Foxtel.

    The only redeeming person I thought was Mitch. Channel 7 should hire him and cast him as a cousin to the River Boys on Home & Away.

    The two Federal Liberal members whose electorates cover the shire, must be proud.

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