They may be scrags, but they’re our scrags
THE reality show was invented in 1916. They didn’t have television then, so people created their own versions at home, as depicted in the George Bernard Shaw play Pygmalion , where two rich guys bet on whether they can pass off a poor woman as a lady.
Throwing shoes at someone and shouting ‘‘ Take your slippers; and may you never have a day’s luck with them’’ was the ‘‘ game on, molls’’ or a bitch pouring beer on your hair extension of its day.
Almost 100 years later, rich guys are still betting, only now it’s TV producers who take, ahem, earthy young women and turn them into ladies. Think Australian Princess , Faking It and the endless number of modelling competitions. This time they’re wagering that TV viewers can’t resist a good scrag fight with a bonus Cinderella story.
Which is why watching a show such as Aussie Ladette to Lady evokes mixed feelings. I do so enjoy a trashy reality show. And there is no doubt that the eight participants in this show need polishing.
But why do they need to embrace some outmoded version of propriety as ladies who know the importance of pouring tea before milk and what to wear when hanging a pheasant, other than for reality TV contrast?
It doesn’t help that the judges are so horrible; and I foolishly thought the cornerstone of good etiquette was not making other people uncomfortable by, say, calling them ‘‘ a little piece of scum’’.
Consequently, a part of me cheered when Maria mooned the panel after her first episode elimination. When she says, ‘‘ They’re really ugly people that make you feel like you’re nothing’’, it’s hard to disagree. What
Henry Higgins would have done it better: you learn here is that if you misbehave, do it with the right accent.
While Nine deserves credit for realising that fans want to see something that’s close to the original, keeping the British location, Eggleston Hall, brings with it connotations of colonial disdain, with the underlying theme that this is the school’s biggest challenge yet, because they’re Australian . As cringe-inducing as it is to hear one of the contestants justify her behaviour by claiming ‘‘ this is how it’s done in moiy country’’ ( er, not in my neck of the woods, sister), hearing the narrator say ‘‘ one of the girls will be sent back home, to Australia’’ with an inflection suggesting Australia is code for ‘‘ vat filled with rancid custard and rats’’ also gets the hackles up.
If you judge a country by its reality show contestants, the whole world will be in trouble.
Aussie Ladette to Lady has its amusements, but it’s nothing we haven’t seen before.
Now where did I put that DVD of My Fair Lady?
Aussie Ladette to Lady