Tag Archives: TV

A Love Island live blog!

Welcome to this special edition of Striving for Apathy: a Love Island live blog! With a difference!

The difference is it’s not live: it’s Tuesday morning, I’m in the office blinking at ITV Player, and in the unlikely event some fucker gives me work to do this shite might bleed over into Wednesday. There might be the occasional uncharacteristic exclamation mark beneath, in case some OK magazine-reading twat stumbles across this, thinks it’s a seriously fresh insight into their vacuous world and shares it on Instagram where, as you and I both know, I truly belong.

So, a little background before we begin! I’ve never seen Love Island and I don’t know what it is; I assume it’s some sort of hyper-randy Blind Date. Morons are obsessed with it. I know that a pair named Amber and Greg won it last night, because the front page of a moron’s Metro said so just now.

Let’s go!

Continue reading A Love Island live blog!

Entangled in Elstree

The round involved a board of photos of famous people as they had looked in the 1980s. Big hair, moustaches, Gary Lineker looking the same. And very clearly Steven Spielberg. It couldn’t have been anyone but Spielberg.

Up steps Steve, a civil servant from Poole in a shirt that the geese have been at. Steve used to be a national level trampoline gymnast. Tell us Steve: who’s the chap with the beard?

“I’ll go with…Jeremy Beadle?”

Continue reading Entangled in Elstree

Of course a dragon

It’s official – Game of Thrones is the Best Thing Since Sliced Bread.

It has more blood and guts than American Horror Story, more familial rivalries than The Sopranos and more zombie legions than The Walking Dead. It has more flashes of sideboob than Eurotrash and such a fondness for our favourite word it might as well be called Game of Cunts.

It’s also high time to put it out of its misery.

Continue reading Of course a dragon

The pride of Tom Daley

Recently I endured the painful experience of being forcibly pinned down by my best friend.

He isn’t usually given to violence, or sexual deviance with older women but, in his defence, he had discovered me throwing the contents of my handbag at the television. On reflection this was probably quite a disturbing sight for him. He had recorded several episodes of his favourite programmes on the Sky box and was in imminent danger of not having a screen to watch them on – again.

He didn’t seem particularly surprised to find me in such a rage. This was probably because he’d presumed that I had been watching the Chelsea match and was suffering from a serious bout of indignant rage following Diego Costa’s late winner against West Ham. I wouldn’t normally give a shit about West Ham’s result but I had placed a small wager on them winning the league this season (lunacy I know) and anyway, I fucking hate Diego Costa.

Continue reading The pride of Tom Daley

My career as a ballroom dancer

I’ll tell you what’s been grinding my fucking gears recently: ski jumping.

The other week I was channel hopping when I stopped on a trailer for the Eddie the Eagle film. This was followed by the show The Jump.

Now, for those of you who don’t know much about the sporting history of England, especially on a social level, until the 1950s you were not allowed to be a professional sportsman. It was seen as unbecoming for a gentleman to be trying too hard; for example, if you worked on the dock yard, you could not participate in the shot-put as you had an unfair advantage. Even to this day, the English prefer the plucky underdog to the consummate professional.

So the story surrounding Eddie the Eagle befits the English sensibility. For those who don’t know it’s basically Cool Runnings (the story that is, I haven’t seen the film so couldn’t comment on it) and Eddie couldn’t jump for shit.

And then there’s The Jump.

Why the hell am I being made to watch a bunch of over-paid, under-talented leeches have an all expenses paid winter vacation? They can go skiing any fucking time they like, or at least could when they had money and didn’t need to flog their carcasses to pay the plastic surgeon.

I mean, seriously, why do celebrities get to do so many amazing and sometimes life-changing things? In the Jungle, ballroom dancing, they even help them find love. Let’s say I wanted to use the medium of reality TV to boost my career as a ballroom dancer. I’d be forced to slug it out with quite potentially thousands, maybe even hundreds of thousands of other people. On Strictly it’s about a dozen. It’s like everyone wants to win the Champions League, but celebrities start in the last 16 whereas you or I have to start from the bottom of the Ryman’s.

I wouldn’t mind so much if they’d properly hurt themselves once in a while. But no. It’s just another lump of dirt kicked in our faces, proving that the sole point of such shows is to attract larger and larger audiences by seducing us with a glimpse of these demi-gods of modern society.

Why can’t Joe Bloggs do all that cool shit?  What better way to ensnare an audience than by showing relateable people? I’m not Dean Caine, I’ve never been in a cereal advert or played one of the most iconic characters in all 20th century fiction. I do not relate to those people, it merely stokes my ire.

Surely we all remember The Crystal Maze – which has returned to our lives, albeit as a pay-and-play experience – Fort Boyard and the Krypton Factor? Real people, doing real shit. Since Big Brother and the explosion of celebrity culture and reality TV, we’ve somehow all been lulled into thinking that it’s actually interesting watching these vacuous souls.

Fuck, at least if I watch a soap opera, I’m watching paid professionals, expressing themselves through their vague approximation of art and talent. When I peer into the toilet bowl, I do not find myself spellbound. I am not willing to live my life based on what these ridiculous people say and do. Fuck ski jumping.

When cattle played darts

Don’t spend Saturday nights in, that’s the lesson. Go out, make yourself insensible on Disaronno, bang your head on something and wake up with an empty wallet and a sore arse on Monday morning ready for another five days of absurd life-wasting, but for Christ’s sake don’t stay in.

Because if you stay in, you’ll end up watching a programme called Can’t Touch This. Here’s the premise: scattered about an assault course made largely of foam is a collection of circular panels with hands stamped on them. As you navigate the swinging punch bags and garish stackable blocks, your goal is to touch as many of these hand panels as you can – each one wins you a specific prize – while also attempting to get through the course in as quick a time as possible to qualify for additional rounds.

People fall over a lot and make themselves look ridiculous. This in itself is not a problem; seeing someone fall over is one of life’s genuine treats. No, it’s not what Can’t Touch This is that bothers me – it’s what it’s not. It’s not Total Wipeout.

Continue reading When cattle played darts

Playground training

Every year I vow I won’t put myself through it again, every single year. But without fail I still watch it. It’s event TV for the unimaginative, it’s infuriating and it makes me shout angrily at the screen as idiots in expensive suits make fools of themselves.

The Apprentice, Alan Sugar, and naked capitalism – a trilogy of things I hate, but still put up with annually. The producers are particularly savvy in their selection of candidates, as are the editors who tweak the narrative for maximum impact. It’s a parade of stupidity, and it makes me genuinely angry.

My girlfriend hates The Apprentice too, but she loves my apoplectic expressions, my consistent assumption that if I were on the show I could do better. The advertising slogans they coin, even the names they give their shitty and short-lived ‘teams’, lack even a simplistic sense of creativity.

Like a sycophant, I assume that if I made it onto the show I could win Alan Sugar’s favour, and his measly investment in whatever half-assed idea I sold him. The Apprentice sells the narrative that we all need a benevolent and wise mentor to guide us through life and it both appalls and entices me.

Watching this show makes me realise that my character isn’t as strong as I thought it was. I know that I should just ignore it, and let myself breathe more easily. The competitiveness, the backstabbing, and the anger that the candidates display is absurd, and frequently childish. The whole process makes these apparent professionals regress to their playground training, pulling hair and refusing to share the toys.

For me, there are some principles in life that we should defend rather than attack. There are some higher ideals that we should strive towards, instead of letting shitty human nature take over. We should aim to collaborate, and work together with others. And we should know that what we do collectively is always going to be better than what we do by ourselves.

But The Apprentice doesn’t aim for anything higher than naked profit. It champions those who squash, lash out, and venomously attack others. And it sucks us in with its logic.

Years and years ago, in the mystical dark ages of the 1960s, a sage called Richard Alpert discussed the legacy of LSD on the free market system. He claimed that if we all killed our egos, and if we all became mindful of the fact that we’re one consciousness experiencing reality subjectively, the world would become a healthier, happier, and more peaceful place.

It seems that if Alan Sugar, along with his business advisers and his yearly cohort of hopeful candidates, understood that life had more meaning than the arbitrary financial boundaries they believe in, The Apprentice could have a better legacy. It could be a TV show that highlights the positive aspects of humanity, rather than its ugliness.

Perhaps we should dose them all with LSD, we could watch consciousness expand, and we could realise together that there is no they or other, there’s just us, the collective. We could share in the candidates’ joy as they overcame the need to compete, and we could revel in the understanding that to be good to others is to be good to yourself.

There’s magic and beauty in the world, and sometimes we need a healthy dose of mindfulness, and we need to step outside of what we know and the ideas of self that define us to find it. But The Apprentice doesn’t allow for that kind of thinking. It’s an experience that makes everyone poorer. The candidates hurt each other, Alan Sugar watches on like the worst kind of prophet, and everyone celebrates wealth, opulence and greed.

If we don’t partake, if we don’t join in, and if we do it deliberately and vocally, then bad things stop. We don’t need to feed the beast; I could just turn the TV off. My girlfriend would lose out on some entertainment, but my mind would be better for it. The noise, the squabbling, squawking shrieks of anger and irritation, would be silenced. 

But what would I do instead on a Wednesday night? I could read a book, maybe explore my understanding of my own place in the universe. I could come to realise that by analysing the candidates on Alan Sugar’s shit show I become just like them. I could take a breath and realise that by judging others I’m judging myself; that our collective consciousness is harmed by the divisive them and us philosophy espoused by wealthy establishment figures like ‘Lord’ Sugar.

But I don’t have time for all that. The fuckers are naming a shampoo brand and they’re shit at it.

Four weeks earlier

Blood and tears clash on the face of the terrified and bewildered man on screen. He’s cradling a woman’s body in a burning building, fighting the realisation that he cannot save who we understand is the love of his life, and that he has dwindling seconds to get himself to safety before the floor collapses. The fear and fury of the scene is visceral. This programme is going to be pretty thrilling, clearly.

The screen goes black, and next we see an idyllic scene of a child flying a kite by a stream on a sunny autumn day. An adult couple sits on a nearby patch of grass, looking on with a mixture of happiness and mild concern that they may soon be drying off little Alfie who’s already getting in a tangle close to the water’s edge. They laugh together contentedly. They are deeply in love.

We recognise them as the couple from the burning building. On the screen, words emerge: four weeks earlier.

Bastards.

Continue reading Four weeks earlier

Cashing out

Paul Kaye lives in the same part of London as I do. You’ll know him even if the name isn’t familiar – he was Dennis Pennis, that red-haired red-carpet terrorist who used dubious press privileges to ask Wolf from Gladiators if his Nobbies itched on set and whether Eamonn Holmes had ever shat on a glass table.

I see Paul at the tube station from time to time, on his way to film another intriguing character role in that niche he’s etched out for himself in shows such as Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell and Humans. He plays long-faced, greasy-haired, gurning minor villains who inevitably get their comeuppance at some point. He plays them well.

It turns out these roles have been little more than prep work for his finest creation yet. I speak, of course, of ‘Morris’.

Continue reading Cashing out