Desperate Scousewives

Let’s get one thing straight: Desperate Scousewives is terrible: horrendously, awfully, diabolically bad. It’s not a ‘laugh’ or a ‘bit of fun’; it’s a televisual abomination.

More pleasant ways to spend an hour and five minutes include: a) having cat poo rubbed in your eyes b) eating tin foil c) rubbing your scrotum with wire wool d) chatting to Jeremy Clarkson about the history of trade unions.

Like The Only Way is Essex, Geordie Shore and Made in Chelsea, D.S. is a ‘scripted reality’ show. To explain why this is bad, let me recount a bit of history:

In the beginning there was television drama. Like drama throughout history, writers would script a tale of something interesting and remarkable and actors would portray it- in this case for the screen.

When drama is well written and sensitively acted, the watcher feels a sense of empathy with the characters and has an emotional reaction that keeps them coming back for more.

Then at some point, crafty television producers realized that they could do also get that reaction from the viewer by doing away with scriptwriters and actors entirely and pointing the camera at ‘real people’ in difficult situations. And lo, from driving schools to airports, a new televisual genre emerged.

Initially, it really was just a case of pointing a camera in the right direction and editing the footage a bit. Human beings are quite empathetic animals and when reality television is good and features people having genuine reactions people do tend to respond.

But like every form of vicarious thrill, it wasn’t enough. Directors started to re-tool the footage, editing and cutting away bits that didn’t fit to create a narrative that chimed with what they felt viewers wanted to see on screen: namely, drama (and people crying in toilets).

We’ve since become wise to the phenomenon of editing: many of the situations we see on so called ‘reality TV’ are manufactured (X Factor auditions being a case in point) and the people manipulated, but it’s that nugget of reality that keeps the viewer coming back.

Whether it’s a self satisfied fool being told he’s an idiot by the tiny bearded Jewish entrepreneur he worships, a very large man realising he has nothing to eat but bananas for a week or a lunatic being delighted at successfully selling a mummified cat these are real people having a genuine emotional response that the viewer can relate to.

However the problem with reality TV is you need interesting people in interesting situations, and even then you have to film and edit an awful lot of footage to get something worth screening.

So those crafty TV producers got together again (almost certainly in a hollowed out volcano while stroking white cats) and decided to get groups of very uninteresting people whose main characteristic is desperation for fame and tell them to say things that suggest something dramatic is happening.

Now, amazingly enough, it turns out that acting is quite difficult. It’s almost like you need to go to some kind of ‘drama school’ to learn how to do it well…so in these ‘scripted reality’ shows you have a group of people stumbling over their lines as if they’re barely capable of thought, let alone speech.

It’s beyond painful.

And so, finally, we get to Desperate Scousewives. In this case, the focus is on a group of people on the very lowest rung of celebrity in Liverpool: failed footballers, failing models and a man who self identifies as ‘Britain’s bitchiest blogger’, Jaiden Michael.

When told he is nothing but a ‘Z-list blogger’ Jaiden responds: ‘well at least I’m on the list!’ with a smug grin.


Most of the rest of the cast are rather loud young women who proclaim their love of Liverpool at length and spend a curious amount of time talking about guys they like while lolling about in rather expensive looking underwear.

That’s ‘lying around’, by the way. Not laughing.

The culmination of the opening episode was a visit to the North West Style Awards. Only it wasn’t. The cast cut about in a clearly empty hotel with an occasional shot of generic function spliced in to give an the impression they were actually at the event.

If you can’t get a proper invite to the NWSA, you’re not even Z-List. Diedre from Coronation Street won ‘Best Glasses’ three years in a row….probably.

And that’s it. There are no stakes, there are no consequences and there is no humour. If I was a ‘Scouse’ I’d be weeping into my stolen cornflakes at the fact these fools are representing our lovely, Beatles haunted European City of Culture.


Desperate Scousewives is on Mondays, 10pm, E4

You can follow Ian Dunn on Twitter here


About Ian Dunn
I love avocados, WH Auden and dinosaurs but I don't like effort.

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