I have lockjaw from watching Channel Ten’s new reality show The Shire. I spent half an hour on Monday night with my mouth open. In disbelief. In horror. In shock. I looked like Maculay Culkin in the Home Alone poster. Who were these people? Why did they spell their names so strangely? Why did they speak like robots? And what in the name of all that is Australian were they wearing??
I’m not alone. Social media has been in overdrive confirming similar sentiments. Are these men and women for real? In the opening scenes we meet most of the cast on the beach in their swimsuits. Or rather bits of fabric stuck onto body parts that would otherwise be pixelated in the 8pm time slot.
There’s good-looking Mitch and his cute, blonde ex-girlfriend Gabby. A couple of other guys (Simon and Andy) who look so much like Mitch that I can’t be sure he wasn’t playing all three. Then there was Vernessa and Sophie who Twitter quickly dubbed the ‘Botox Twins’. At first I mistook them for rocks lying on the sand because they were spray tanned the colour of well, dirt but soon realised that they were a life form with massively enhanced cleavage and lots of fake hair. Sophie was wearing a pair of denim shorts that defy description. But I'm going to try: imagine a leotard circa 1985. Really, really high cut on the thigh. Then imagine it in acid wash denim with a frayed hem. Then imagine wearing them in the same way you would wear underpants but in public.
Sophie & Vernessa on Facebook
Vernessa and Sophie thought the shorts were hot. They think each other is hot. The only life pursuit they seem to be interested in is The Getting of Hotness. Or was it Fakeness?
Vernessa: "We've got fake lips, botox, boobs, tans, so forth. In the end, we're real." Um ... but you just admitted that 30 per cent of your body is fake?"
And…Sophie: "I think image is everything. If you look good, people will fit you into that role."
The role of what Sophie? What?? These two young women – their life goals, attitude, fashion choices- are beyond adjectives.
Beckkaa however is not. I could throw the whole dictionary at her. Disturbing. Vacuous. Beige. Beckka is the princess of the show who we meet as she returns from a shopping and plastic surgery trip to Dubai. Her Dad picks her up in a stretch limo at the airport and for two horrifying minutes it seemed like her might be her Sugar Daddy not actual Daddy. Beckaa gives him a throwaway hug and proceeds to list all the stuff she’d bought with his money including a new nose. Later she lay on her bed with two really bitchy blokes (friends) and told them she wanted to devote her time to pageants. Of the beauty variety. They offered her this heartfelt advice.
Kris: "You've lost weight, but you've got a massive arse."
The Shire fashion looks are stripper, Beach, Barbie and Beach Stripper Barbie.
The backdrop to The Shire is all gorgeous white sand and shimmering blue water. It really doesn’t look that different to Summer Bay. Nor does the core cast. Pretty, beachy, everyday Aussies. It’s the fashion that separates The Shire from any other cast on reality television anywhere in the world. It is devoid of glamour, humour, irony - it’s just plain woeful. The key looks are stripper, Beach Barbie, surfer and Beach Stripper Barbie. It’s as though the girls made a deal with the Style Devil and traded new consonants and vowels to spice up the spelling of their ordinary Australian names (Beckkaa I’m looking at you) in exchange for every ounce of fashion sense they might have possessed.
If The Shire's plot makes Being Lara Bingle look like Q & A then its fashion makes Jemima’s smock on Playschool look like couture.