Earlier this year a friend of mine sent me details about an “exciting” new TV show to launch this year, marketed as the journalistic version of The Apprentice. Initially dubious about the damage (as opposed the fictitious benefits) a reality TV show could do to my potential career I decided to give it a miss. It wasn’t until what seemed like the entire population of Kent’s journalism course started applying I decided to jump on The Exclusives band wagon.
I filled in my application with a pinch of salt; I didn’t really want to go on this show. When asked what it would the experience would mean to me I explained it was purely to get one up on my editor (Sorry Sara, in fairness I think you’ve won now) and when asked about the best moment of my life so far, I explained the glorious moment when J2O Maldives retweeted my message about their drink causing glittery poo. I wasn’t sure whether to be surprised or not when I got a call back.
Yet as the show aired this week on ITV2 it dropped lower than even my feeble estimations could have predicted. Whilst I understand in the world of reality TV there’s more emphasis on looking pretty and having a strong character than any kind of actual talent, The Exclusives really does take the biscuit.
I’m not suggesting for a moment that these young people do not have any talents or have worked hard, but the producers of the show have kept it extremely well hidden under layers of glamour modelling, sob stories and pulling pints. There is not a single mention in the entire programme of anything any of the contestants have ever done to gain their goal before.
The closest we get is a contestant who tells us that she sometimes writes for her local paper, when she’s not getting her boobs out for the camera. There’s nothing wrong with modelling, but surely the show should try and focus a little bit more on these people’s writing ambitions? She later explains that “writing is my escape”, which would be fine until she mentions that everyone thinks she’s mental when they read what she’s written and the accompanying video shot shows her doodling flowers.
Equally the show does nothing to enforce the realism of starting at the bottom of a very long ladder, with the contestants put up in a swanky London flat and told to “get some sleep” after they’ve completed a couple of tasks. It’s also highly implied the girls will be getting through on their sexual charm, which is definitely a stereotype that needs enforcing in a historically male dominated industry.
Whilst I understand that the show isn’t aimed at an audience of journalists, it’s distorting the profession beyond belief. At the least in The Apprentice they pretend to have business drive.