They may be scrags, but they’re our scrags

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Tv -

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?

Kerrie Mur­phy

Aussie Ladette to Lady

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