Editorial: Top 5 Reality Shows.
So, here's something new.
We don't tend to talk much about reality shows on this blog, because I don't watch all that many, and more importantly, it kind of only fits tangentially into this blog's remit. But even a tangential fit is worth at least one post, especially since the alternative is doing that Kamen Rider Ghost review, and I really don't feel like doing that.
So, without further ado, here are my top five reality shows - which surely means that they're everyone's top five, because I am always right, yes, good.
5. Strictly Come Dancing.
Strictly Come Dancing is great because it combines three things I love: Celebrities who I've never heard of before, dancing, and no particular need to pay particularly keen attention to what's going on. I mean, worst case scenario, I miss someone getting dropped during an illegal lift or something, but that's not happened yet.
Like several shows on this list, Strictly Come Dancing's claim to fame is that it is so very good-natured. Nobody is making veiled spiteful comments about each other or aught like that, everyone is just full of joy and quiet whimsy. Even the judges are nice, because by now everyone has realised that Craig's Cowell-esque nastiness is a very transparent act.
4. The Voice UK.
As I am an ancient, withered skeleton of a person, I remember the eras of Popstars, Popstars: The Rivals, Pop Idol and X-Factor, the last of which is actually still on television but sometimes feels like it isn't. I've seen the steady evolution of televised singing competitions, and The Voice UK is in many ways the apex of that evolution, for the moment at least.
What makes it such, I think, is that the judges are all so nice. While X-Factor still thrives off Simon Cowell's increasingly tired and repetitive attempts at wit, The Voice has apparently decided that its particular niche is going to be having its judges behave in a much more professional fashion, avoiding needless cruelty and instead being straightforward, honest, and very pleasant.
That is incredibly refreshing, and it has sustained my interest through three series of the blasted thing, when my interest in other singing competition shows died off long, long before.
3. The Apprentice.
I'm talking, obviously, about the UK Apprentice, because that one doesn't involve an angry orange man who is probably less competent at business than the twelve people he's yelling at (seriously, Donald Trump has gone bankrupt five times, guys), and instead involves Lord Alan Sugar, who is a lovely old fellow who gives generously to charity and doesn't yell so much as growl ominously at people.
If I'm being honest, though, the real draw of The Apprentice comes from how almost all the candidates are total failures, with preposterously huge egos that are not remotely backed up with any business acumen. There is something oddly transfixing about watching someone brag about how he's the best businessperson who ever lived (and that's a claim that's come up multiple times, and always from the men in the competition) before falling totally flat on the most basic principles of business. It's delicious.
This year, someone tried to claim that they were better at business due to being taller than average. It was a beautiful moment, and I will treasure it in my heart forever.
2. Come Dine With Me.
Come Dine With Me is a show about people throwing dinner parties for each other and then scoring each other while making snide comments about the quality of the tablecloth, and if that doesn't sound like the most aggressively upper middle class thing to you then I just don't know what to tell you.
I've not watched it for several years, because it's not the kind of show you tune into willingly: It's the kind of show you watch if your life is empty and meaningless and you have nothing better to do with your time, and as you flick through the channels you happen to come across it and get sucked in.
I'm not even sure it has a regular timeslot or channel, I think it just materialises when it senses desperation and melancholy.
1. The Great British Bake-off.
"Yeah, you and the rest of the UK," someone is probably saying as they read this, and it's true: The Great British Bake-off is the country's favourite show, because it combines the two things we love most as a nation: Happy, lovely people and crushing despair.
The emotional layout of a GBBO episode is roughly like that of a Game of Thrones episode, only instead of being betrayed by their friends, the bakers are being betrayed by crumb structures and lacklustre provings.
At least half the fun, of course, is that for about eight weeks you have four countries, with a population in the dozens of millions, get swept up in baking related fervor. We get more emotionally invested in what happens on the bake-off than we do about our own general elections.