The classy world of (British) reality TV

Step aside, Real Housewives. Your British counterparts are younger, richer and classier than you could ever dream. Photo from Mirror.co.uk.

Step aside, Real Housewives. Your British counterparts are younger, richer and classier than you could ever dream. Photo from Mirror.co.uk.

In the “reality”-obsessed culture of the 21st century, we’ve come to crave the heightened, exaggerated situations and constantly revolving relationships of reality TV. But wait, does that mean what we are watching isn’t real?!

American reality shows imply that everything that happens in the program is not manipulated or directed, but come on. We all know by now that “Laguna Beach” and “The Hills” were both total lies. Let’s not pretend that the betrayal didn’t hurt us either. (I was devastated like the rest of humanity when the sound stage pulled back and the fraud was exposed. I still don’t forgive Lauren Conrad for all of the deceit, but it’s fine. I’ve moved on…)

…To even more ridiculous and outrageous television shows. Now is the time to admit that everyone has at least one guilty pleasure; whether its the Kardashians, the wild housemates on the “Real World,” Honey Boo Boo and her trashy cohorts or the always-vicious ladies on the “Real Housewives.” The fact that all of these shows bear no semblance to real life is the sole reason everyone is obsessed.

Caggie and Spencer from "Made in Chelsea" are just like LC and Stephen – except ridiculously perfect. Photo from Virgin Media.

Caggie and Spencer from “Made in Chelsea” are just like LC and Stephen – except ridiculously perfect. Photo from Virgin Media.

Have you ever taken part in a giant cat fight, revolving relationship with three different people (mostly likely best friends of yours), had no “real” job, slept with all your friends and gotten into nonsensical screaming matches all in the same week? Yeah, I didn’t think so. But what are things like across the pond?

The British are much more honest about their “structured-reality” series. They take ownership of the unrealistic situations shown, and that is refreshingly classy. The most-hyped popular programs in London tend to skew a bit more sophisticated than typical American fare (sorry, Honey Boo Boo).

“Made in Chelsea” is a highly addictive treat that follows a group of 20-somethings as they navigate their glamorous and dramatic lives while partying and living in the most exclusive neighborhoods of London. It may sound shallow, but the group of wealthy heirs and heiresses have known each other since their first polo match, and continue to attend balls and dinner parties together. Of course they fight, make up, scream, switch partners, drink excessively, cheat and look flawless, but the Euro-style cheek kisses somehow make it believable.

The life crises, extravagant holidays, numerous shopping trips and never-ending lunch breaks just pull you further into their incredibly posh lives. (It might be time for me to share that I have had the opportunity to meet one of the stars, Oliver Proudlock. After meeting at a nightclub, he invited my friends and I into his private booth to introduce us to his friends and party with him. Can you see Kim Kardashian doing that? I didn’t think so.)

Getting back to the juicy sensation that is “Made in Chelsea,” the main obsession of the show is whether Caggie Dunlop and her childhood sweetheart Spencer Matthews will ever get together. It may seem a little LC/Stephen-esque, but we really have to let “Laguna Beach” go. Those two are never, ever ever getting back together, and it just needs to be accepted.

Throw in some devious and manipulative friends with bottomless bank accounts and it’s “Gossip Girl” with British accents, which is a thousand percent better. Hugo Taylor and Camilla Macintosh, two of my personal favorites, add in quite a bit of fashionable flair while attending exclusive events and dating one another every other episode. This gem far outshines what American television has to offer at the present.

Although, if you are looking for a bit of trashy, uncensored goodness, Britain has the perfect solution – “What Happens in Kavos.” It’s a completely uncensored docu-drama following young people on holiday at the infamously no-holds-barred city of Kavos on the island of Corfu. (Apparently Greece is the ideal holiday destination for the English population). Once there, they hop on the welcome booze cruise, and the trip descends into hedonism. This would not be an ideal destination for a family vacation, due to excessive, well, everything. Each person “interviewed” shares multiple sex/alcohol related stories, and then the audience gets to see most of the explicit nonsense that occurs. There was a particularly scary bit when some sexually injured men got STI tested. Graphic.

We can't even tell if the Geordie Shore cast is actually British. Photo from Geordie Shore Online.

We can’t even tell if the Geordie Shore cast is actually British. Photo from Geordie Shore Online.

Let’s not forget the British answer to “Jersey Shore” – “Geordie Shore,” which centers on wild cast members hailing from Northeast England. It sounds quite similar to J-Shore, doesn’t it? Yet somehow, the Geordies take everything a step further. The British accept more explicit material in their programs, so the partying, drinking and hook-ups are much more extreme. These are some wild individuals who put Snooki and her gang to shame, bouncing around Newcastle, wreaking havoc and drinking themselves into a stupor.

Cast members literally say everything that comes to mind. There is no censor across the pond and these wild Geordies are ready to go harder and farther than their Jersey counterparts. Tanning takes a back burner compared to the gym time put in by the males and females alike. So much wilder and so much trashier. They’re looking mint and are born ready to embarrass themselves all over Newcastle and Britain.

So jump on the bandwagon that is British reality television and add a dose of class to your guilty pleasures. You won’t regret it, unless you prefer to be a productive member of society. Otherwise, curl up on the couch and get lost in the lives of people far trashier/more fabulous than us.

“Made in Chelsea” series five begins this spring, and re-runs can be seen on Style Network. “Geordie Shore” series six airs this summer.

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