BY ZOE FOSTER
In news that has people “shocked,” and “flabbergasted” and “mildly thirsty,” us Australians have JUST cottoned onto the wickedly good TV show, Snog, Marry, Avoid?
The series, which induces shame and delight in equal parts, has been on air since 2008 in the UK, but has just arrived here. (You’ll find it shimmering brightly on Friday nights on digital channel 11. I certainly did last Friday night, as did the many girls I chatted on Twitter with about it. It was like a virtual pyjama party, just with less pillow fights and popcorn.)
Snog, Marry, Avoid? is a makeunder show. An affable host introduces us to a handful of very… exciting young women, (including celebrities) who have been specially selected because of their love of “fakery” – fake tan, too much makeup, fake boobs, hair extensions, fake lashes, fake nails and so on. (And in the UK, well, they really bloody go for it, don’t they?) Of course, these are things that a lot of us are desperately attached to, but we manage to use with a little more restraint than these dames.
From there, they are hurled in front of “computer” called POD (Personal Overhaul Device) who is a ruthless ghoul, but says a lot of the things we’re all secretly thinking a little bit, but cannot, and will not, ever say, because we are nice people who let other people look the way that most pleases them. (As she is a “computer” she is allowed to be a cow and no one can throw a punch. Brilliant idea, really.)
So, there’s nasty old POD, tearing strips off them, telling them they look trashy, and asking why they don’t let their natural beauty shine through, (“because I don’t have any” they say, and my heart breaks a little bit) and doing brutal vox pops with men to get their opinions of each makeunder candidate – “Would you call this girl more of a drag queen or a beauty queen?” and of course, “Would you want to snog, marry or avoid this girl?” – so that our poor thigh-high booted lamb is feeling like a piece of bin sludge, and therefore far more vulnerable to a cleanser and hair dye ambush.
It’s horrible, this part, because even though these young women exude confidence and gregariousness and fabulousness, their OTT appearance is more often than not an enormous (but extremely thinly concealed) mask hiding a cavernous lack of self confidence. This is painfully obvious by the way they choose the “avoid” or “drag queen” option as the one they think the boys will choose. (My heart breaks a bit there too.) (Shoosh, watch it before you judge.)
Next POD demands the girls remove their makeup, direct to camera. They HATE THIS. Dear golden eye liners do they hate this. I squirm watching them squirm. Then I gasp seeing the tsunami-sized tide lines between the colour of their now makeup-free face, and their makeup-laden necks. It’s outrageous.
From here they reluctantly choose their new hair colour/style/cut, makeup and style look from the strictly edited options POD presents, and ZIM! ZAP! KAPOW! In a flash of pretty terrible SFX, the makeunder happens.
And she is revealed! I swoon. I slap the cushions on the sofa in glee. I marvel at how BEAUTIFUL these women are when they are stripped down to their natural skin tone (sun damage-free, thanks to England being, uh, sun-free), some simple eye shadow, natural, skin-matched foundation and lipstick, and hair that is free of ratty, unloved extensions, instead a vision of health and gloss in a shade that makes their eye colour spectacularly enchanting. Their new clothes are flattering, age-appropriate and cover their stomach and bum cheeks, which must be not only a lot warmer, but also far easier to conceal any pasta consumed. In short: they look like a pretty, modern, younger sister of their former selves. (My using the word “younger” was not inadvertent.)