This conversation went down in my world last week:
My sister Janey (very shallow person; reads Who magazine): I think I might watch Gogglebox Thursday night. Looks like it could be fun.
Me (brainy and literary; once downloaded a Richard Fidler conversation): Are you out of your mind? I have ZERO interest in that and ZERO respect for anyone who watches it and even less for anyone who said, ‘Yeh, I’m happy to be filmed while I swill wine and analyse Dance Moms with my bogan family / lover / BFF’.
Gogglebox was clearly not for me. Until it was. I watched it once (against my will) and I fell in love.
I was besotted by the concept, charmed by the people, and captivated with the way the whole damn thing was put together. I love that as jaded and cynical as I am after all these years working in and around the media, I can still be surprised. I bow to the TV executive that said, ‘So we bung cameras in lounge rooms and film regular people talking about TV shows? Sure, why not? Let’s give that a crack.”
The concept is that simple, but the casting is genius. My favourites are Angie and Yvie, two girls in their twenties (I wish they were my friends), and the Daltons, a family with mum, dad and two teenage girls. There are eight other households and all are warm, fascinating and funny. It’s reality TV that doesn’t shame people, or manufacture heroes and villains. It’s pure, glorious entertainment and it holds a mirror to ourselves.
If you haven’t already, watch it, please.
The thing that’ll strike you first is these are PEOPLE WATCHING TV TOGETHER. No one has an iPad on their lap, no one checks their phone. You feel like you’re seeing something deliciously quaint – like a family singing around a pianola.
The shows they watch are a grab bag of the week’s viewing on free-to-air and pay TV. The first episode I watched included My Strange Addiction, which featured an American dude who can’t stop eating plastic bags. Then the movie-musical Mamma Mia (please don’t sing, Pierce, please don’t sing), and then the 4 Corners story on the Bali 9 executions. Heavy stuff, hot on the heels of hilarity and it’s fascinating to eavesdrop on the families’ thoughts, not just on the shows, but on issues.
The best thing about Gogglebox? I watched it with my husband, our three kids, and my sister from beginning to end, chatting and laughing, with not an iDevice in sight.
Kate Hunter is a Senior Copywriter at BCM