April 29, 2003

Sucks to be a scullery maid, as it happens

I know this is my second posting about reality tv shows, which therefore makes up roughly twenty percent of my entire posting career, but I can’t help it. I’ve become obsessed with Manor House and I would like it to be a matter of public record. I guess PBS finally realized that fart jokes with a British accent are still fart jokes and just because a show stars Judy Dench doesn’t mean it isn’t boring and stupid. They’ve finally got this amazing stuff on about the way life was in fancy-schmancy Edwardian English manors, from the family that lives there down to the people who clean the chamber pots. You get to learn lots of neat stuff, and there is actual drama in the house—they don’t need the producers to add mood music or have a cast that includes a racist cowboy, a gay racist drug dealer, and an American Indian racist techno club dj with Whig Party leanings in order to keep things moving. You might think the treatment of the cultural differences between then and now would be heavy-handed, but it’s not at all. The narrator just tells you the facts, and it’s fascinating enough hearing what comfortable 21st Century people feel about suddenly working 16 hour days.
I’ve been thinking a lot about how the concept of reality shows isn’t so bad after all. I even think shows like Mr. Personality and Joe Millionaire are good ideas—it’s just that the way they’re done is lame. Sometimes the American stuff is well done, like with The Michael Essany Show or even, God help me, The Osbournes (it’s not the producer’s fault that family is so fucking obnoxious).
But the blue ribbon definitely goes to the Brits. It’s as if they’ve taken all that pent up energy that used to go into maintaining Naval superiority and put it into their reality programming. Rule Britannia! Britannia rules the (broadcast) waves.
I am sure you are all thrilled to get my opinion on this particular subject instead of a post about my actual life. But with the quality programming served up by PBS (and supported by viewers like you), how can my life possibly compete?

Posted by jason at April 29, 2003 08:06 PM

I haven't seen Manor House, but I was addicted to 1900 House when it was on last year. I think the two are along the same lines as far as setup goes. 1900 House is like the real world meets Victorian London. Except for 7 strangers, it was a family of 5 plus their scullery maid. It fucking rocked. It's kind of like the TV version of literary non-fiction. Somebody call Barry Bauska!

Posted by: Jolie at April 30, 2003 01:51 PM