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The Shire. Did you watch?

Vernesa and Sophie

Last night, we met Beckaa.

Beckaa is a 19-year-old, self-described party girl. Her parents love the first letter of alphabet so much that they used it twice. She likes to shop using a credit card but that’s okay because daddy picks up the bill.

Andy is a 22-year-old electrician. His hobbies include “chasing girls” (we assume that’s a little less catch-and-kiss and a little more “honk if you’re horny”) and playing practical jokes.

Sophie is a Beautylicious Ultrasound Cavitation Manager. And ah no, it’s not just you. We don’t know what that is either. Sophie has a very expensive pair of breasts and at age 27 she’s already hooked on botox – which fits with her philosophy of “if you can afford it, why not?”

These are just some characters from Channel 10’s new show The Shire, who we met last night.

Here are some of the others… [text continues after the gallery.]

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Billed as Australia’s answer to programs like America’s Jersey Shore and Britain’s The Only Way is Essex, The Shire will follow ‘real’ people and document their everyday activities.

Sort of.

You see, The Shire is one of Australia’s first ‘dramality’ shows. That means it’s part reality television, with a little bit of scripting thrown in – so when things get a little boring, you can still write in a shock tidal wave or a pregnancy scare.

But with a two drink limit for all of the cast – we’re not sure if this is going to be the biggest thing since coloured jeans or if it’s going to flop like heeled Havianas.

This from Fairfax yesterday:

But just how real is real? Ten is using the word ”dramality” to present the show as a blend of drama and reality. In truth, the industry name for the genre is ”soft script”, so named because it generally involves putting real people into structured situations and ”soft scripting” the outcomes.

The loudest and laziest comparison is Jersey Shore, but The Shire probably owes more to the modern progenitor of the genre, the 2004 MTV series Laguna Beach: The Real Orange County. In a similar fashion, it featured a cast of pretty young things falling in and out of love with one another.

Laguna Beach was followed by The Hills in 2006, and the popularity of those shows has now blown out to a bona fide genre, which includes the US’s Jersey Shore, The City and Baldwin Hills and the British knock-offs Geordie Shore, The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea.

For non-Sydney siders – The Shire is a real place. It’s a region of Sydney and at least for the purposes of Channel 10’s take on the area – you should be picturing southern cross tattoos, fake breasts, tandoori chicken tans and cars that struggle to make it over speed bumps higher than 5cm.

Some people couldn’t wait to watch it. Others said they’d rather eat bark. (For the bark eaters: we suspect you might have been watching Australian Story on ABC instead, in which case you should read this post).

But we suspect there were more than a few of us who ‘accidentally’ fall on the remote and “oops, how did that happen, I wasn’t really watching, it was just on in the background”… i.e. let it play through the full half-hour time slot.

Ratings-wise,The Shire did well last night but it didn’t hit it out of the park like many predicted. It debuted with 941,000 of us tuning in – that compares to 925,000 for the debut ofBeing Lara Bingle last month.

Most importantly for the show’s ongoing commercial success, The Shire was number one in the key advertising demographics for it’s timeslot. It also dominated social media discussion overnight, becoming the number one trending topic on Twitter – and generating some pretty funny responses:

The highlight of the show for us, was the intense discussion between Vernessa and Sophie re: whether you’d rather have intelligence or good looks (which occurred while they used some kind of cellulite melting machine. WTF?).

After some high level debate between the women, the vote was split 50/50 – but that was only because if you’re smart, you can get rich and buy pretty. Now that, ladies and gentlemen, is logic.

So, were you watching The Shire? Are you a fan of dramality television? Could you tell which parts of the show were scripted?

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