Monday, 30 March 2009

Bring on the freakshow.

I foresee many weeks of trashy television ahead. It seems that if we're no longer satisfied by endless panel shows and cheap reality TV, we should all just get lost and watch something else. Like programmes about freaks, thinly veiled by the documentary format, fooling us into thinking we've moved on from the Victorian freakshow.

We have Channel 4 to thank for our endless stream of educational heart-wrenching documentaries about people battling with rare diseases, disabilities and health conditions. How lucky we are that this education is also extremely funny. They call it 'extreme biology'. I prefer to think of it as television giving us the ability to stare at those we wouldn't be able to in the street.

For those in doubt, switch over to Five and see the same poor bastards, but with a less sensitive title and a rendition of "Yakety Sax" set to a narcoleptic trying to climb a staircase. Case in point, a programme documenting the struggle of a teenager suffering with hypertrichosis; the title being "It's Not Easy Being a Wolf Boy".

Kudos to Five, at least they're honest.

Channel 4, on the other hand, seem more concerned with meeting their public service output standards. They have the upper hand when it comes to this sort of thing. After all, who is going to write to Ofcom saying that they found this week's freak too funny? The only people who don't watch these types of things for entertainment are the ones who are lying. There's a limit, however, and C4 leaves that to Five, who are more than happy to stick "I Gave Birth to a Mummy" into their schedule. Not before "Extreme Fishing with Robson Green", though. That goes without saying.

Fat people are easier to make documentaries about. There's less of a problem with poking fun at obesity. After all, it's almost always self-induced, and even if it isn't, we assume these people are liars. Editors seem to have a great amount of fun when piecing together a documentary about fat people. There seems to be a textbook equation for the genre (which can be succinctly described as the 'ChubDoc'); leave the swimming pool underwater shot in. Make sure their rolls of flab are rolling as they cry, to destroy all credibility in what they're saying. Film them eating as much as possible. If they look like whining porkers, job done.

If that fails, get Gok Wan in to tell them they're going to die (and so he'll probably be the last person they see). That'd be enough to put anyone off their chips.

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