Watching me, watching you … watching TV. ABBA eat your heart out.
Over the past two nights, Australia had the chance to watch Gogglebox, the show where you watch other Australians watching shows from the past seven days.
If that wasn’t snake-eating-its-own-tail enough for you, I, Giles Hardie have rationalised that the only way to review this zenith/nadir of Australian culture is to allow you to read Giles talking about himself in the third person as Giles watches them watching what we watched last week. Confused? It only gets worse from here.
Giles watched Gogglebox at the same time as quite literally some other people. Here is his experience and mindless profound thoughts captured for posterity:
Gogglebox opens with a warning that the program contains mature themes and coarse language and Giles assumes he’s got the wrong show. A rapid montage of families watching unseen televisions soon rectifies this and Giles instead finds himself thinking he doesn’t cram nearly enough people on/around his lounge.
Also, who ARE these people?
“Meet the Daltons”, suggests the GoggleVoice in a timely manner and Mr Dalton kicks off things by pointing out to one of his interchangeable daughters that “you’re up all night, just like a newborn!”
Giles wonders who got fired for making that the first line of dialogue in this show. Then Giles notes that he actually has a newborn, so really Gogglebox is about Giles. Giles is getting the hang of this reality television lark.
When flatmates Angie and Yvie are shown taking selfies together, Giles ponders the spelling Yvie and simultaneously the arguments for enforced sterilisation in a civil society.
Giles recognises that this is the point: to love and hate the Gogglebox “personalities” for the most superficial reasons, just as they judge their televisions on a similar scale.
The multi-generation Kidd family – Stuart, Janet, Roger and Michael and his wife Elena – all live together with their fulsome beards, while “best mates” Simon and Adam watch TV at Simon’s parent’s place where he lives. Giles ponders how you tell Mum and Dad you aren’t moving out but a TV crew is moving in to the living room.
As the watching of watching begins, Giles is genuinely impressed that the first show watched on this Foxtel/Ten co-pro is Seven flagship My Kitchen Rules. Hard to argue all of Australia was watching anything on either network last week.
Giles is less impressed that the first thing that the personalities respond to is the opening credits. Giles thinks Gogglebox is coming across as the worst DVD commentary track ever.
Soon the watchers are doing terrible Texan impressions and then flawed French impressions and Giles wonders how there are so many Australians getting work in Hollywood. This is the epitome of Gogglebox Australia it seems. They act like buffoons. We ROFL. Giles is sadly not Rolling nor OFLing.
Soon we change target shows and meet more families. The Jackson family get to say “vagina” on national television before they get individual names, and follow it up with “f***”.
They are shocked by what they see on One Born Every Minute. Giles is surprised that One Born Every Minute is the second-biggest TV event of the week. So much for network objectivity.
“Don’t you ever, ever get a tattoo … on your neck,” says Mrs Jackson to her six children demonstrating the sort of parenting standards Giles wishes were more prevalent on our television. Oddly, a show about childbirth with drippingly sincere British commentary is greatly improved as the peanut gallery replace it with the sort of commentary usually reserved for high school mean girls. Giles suspects this says more about that show than this one.
When the show under scrutiny shifts to news coverage of the attempted Abbottomy, Giles struggles to differentiate the bitchy watcher commentary and the bitchy politicians, though Giles is almost certain it was one of the watchers who called John Howard a “dickhead”. Almost.
GoggleVoice now claims that on Thursday “houses across Australia watched I’m A Celebrity Get Me Out of Here”, which Giles acknowledges is technically true but more accurate if the words “surprisingly” and “few” are put before “houses”.
The watchers discuss the nature of Tyson and how he’s not actually a celebrity. Then how Joel is not really a celebrity (but a “Discount Josh Thomas” haha).
Then how Laura is not really a celebrity. Giles notes that this conversation clearly indicates Thursday was the first time any of them have watched the week-old show.
Gogglebox gets points for accidental accuracy.
Next, everyone watches Dance Moms which Giles assumed quadrupled the usual audience. “Shoosh listen,” says one of the Dalton girls to her father, demonstrating a limited understanding of the whole Gogglebox premise. Giles has been wanting to shoosh the whole show for a while now.
Once the watchers start talking again the topic of choice is 12-year-olds in negligees and then a teenage Dalton is told by her mother to “do it in your nightie and get on the show”. Giles finds himself wondering how to write about this scene without winding up in prison.
At this point Giles is ticking off the networks we’ve seen: Seven, Lifestyle, Ten, Lifestyle again, noting that ABC and Nine conspicuous by their absence. Giles believes networks were asked to give permission for the use of their footage. Giles wonders if the networks could see the segments before approving them making this an even less real reality than normal.
The National Geographic channel had a cat week last week. Which GoggleVoice also claims had highlights. As the watchers view a man in a cage surrounded by lions, they all hope that the lions win. Aren’t humans great? Ancient Rome lives on!
Giles is pleased to see Nine signed on as we watch people watching Sunday’s 60 Minutes siege coverage. Watching is right though. Not listening. This ranges from silence to shocked silence mostly. The watchers have very little to add to this but are given a long time to not do so. Nice promo for another network that.
Another Lifestyle show is watched by sheer coincidence of course. This time Selling Houses Australial We see them jiving to the … theme tune. Giles is utterly sure this is unprompted. No one would request that dancing.
At one point they show someone playing Candy Crush instead of watching. Giles understands the impulse but is equally not interested in a show about watching people playing games. That’s called public transport.
And as if by coincidence, here’s Ten’s other new show: Shark Tank. Giles is finally sick of watching promos dressed as reality television.
“I’ve been looking forward to this for ages,” says one Jackson kid. “I think this is an awesome show,” says Mrs Jackson before actually seeing it. Giles isn’t that stupid thank you very much.
“It’s a little bit vomity,” are the final words we hear on the night. Giles thinks to himself: “Isn’t it nice when the reviews write themselves.”