|Desperate Scousewives' Amanda Harrington, et al|
It's derivative, vacuous, and often unintentionally funny - possibly the TV series and genre of choice for students studying post modern TV in its latest post modern form.
Desperate Scousewives is positioned somewhere between soap opera and documentary; this TV series' "scripted reality" follows the same popular, hybrid genre as "The Only Way Is Essex" and "Made In Chelsea." The show's representation of monied "reality" relies on this new format although it is filmed in the "real" city of Liverpool in locations instantly recognised by Liverpudlians. Alan Kirby's "digimodernism" and the notion of the intersection of "time" and "space" is at work here: its "space" is recognisably Liverpool and it is edited as if it is in "real" time.
Have fun spotting its post modern features, including the playful irony of its derivative title, where unlike its US namesake, none of the female characters are even married! The programme's fakeness in its representation of reality is richly evident. its "constructedness" is ever-present: its stilted, self-conscious dialogue is amusing because it is so prefabricated; every aspect of its "characters'" appearance, right down to its female players' eyelashes is false. The show's women look, and behave, like Barbi Dolls. Stereotyping between the sexes is extreme: the men "really" are from Mars and the women seemingly from Venus. Their "characters" are as stereotypical as those who used to feature in Striker, a comic strip on a promiscuous footballer from a well-known tabloid newspaper.
|Striker used to feature in The Sun|
Even though its scripted reality is unavoidably stilted the programme's best scenes take place when its "characters" vent "real" emotions; their dialogue suddenly seems spontaneous and spoken by "real people." Ironically, this then becomes what drama should be - a heightened representation of real life. In a recent episode a conversation between two married, gay characters about one of them adopting children while the other was not yet ready for it, seemed "real" as the felt truly emotional. But can these "real people", forget, even in their most emotional outbursts, that several cameras are recording their most intimate feelings which will later be edited for the pleasure of countless "voyeurs" on TV?
Audience reactions to the show have been strong and therefore interesting. Liverpudlians are often frightened that "it will make a show of them" rather like the stereotypes generated by Harry Enfield. Online many say that they are disgusted that "such rubbish" is broadcast and cannot make sense of the show, or think it doesn't compare with shows in this genre they have already watched. But many of these would still watch its next episodes! While the Guardian's Euan Ferguson
"EMBARRASSMENT TO LIVERPOOL These idiots DO NOT represent Liverpool. This is absolutely disgusting and should be axed before it is aired. Why do they always find the scummiest people to be on these ridiculous shows? There is no representation of real life. I'm sick of Liverpool getting bashed just because of the scum they drag out to be on television."
I'll post a chart soon to make it easier to compare the modern with the post modern. Remember, however, that post modern TV, films, adverts, etc. have evolved in their forms and features since post modernism began to take hold from the early 1980s. It would be a serious error to see post modernism in a static manner, as the ways of representing versions of "reality" in a world changed by digital technology is itself always changing.