It’s back. You’ll either love it or hate it. No, I’m not talking about Marmite. I’m talking about the reality TV show The Only Way is Essex.
If you’ve not seen the show, it’s about a group of orange 20-somethings who live in Essex showing us what they do best. Namely, partying at Sugar Hut Village, applying vajazzles/pejazzles, dressing up in leopard print mini-dresses and saying ‘shuuuuup’. Basically it’s trash TV both at its very best and worst.
Now, I must confess. I am not a true Essex girl. I was born in Peterborough. Yes, my dad is from Romford, and yes, I’ve lived here almost seven years. Something about a five-year residency rule means I’m probably considered an honorary Essex girl by now.
While the Essex Tourist Board may love the fact visitors to this fair county have increased some 140% thanks to TOWIE, let’s be honest, it’s not exactly for a great reason is it? I’m betting 97% of the increase in visitors is due to people wanting to party at Faces nightclub in the hopes of spotting a ‘celeb’.
“It’s hard enough trying to get through the Essex jokes when I tell people where I live, let alone having to convince people I do not have, nor do I ever plan on getting, a vajazzle.”
Essex girls have had to endure the negative stereotype associated with the county since the mid eighties. The number of times I’ve heard the ‘what’s an Essex girl’s favourite wine?’ joke would be enough to make anyone’s ears bleed. And in this case, the answer isn’t ‘babes, take me to Lakeside pleeeeeeeeease!’
The stereotypical Essex girl is portrayed as a dumb blonde. She is known for sleeping around, wearing mini-dresses and white stilettos and being generally quite thick. A career of choice for the Essex girl is supposedly glamour modelling (à la Jodie Marsh, who hails from my very own town of Brentwood and who is a lot shorter than I thought she’d be in real life).
Here’s a newsflash. Brace yourself: the average girl from Essex is not like that.
I wish the makers of TOWIE would have at least tried to counteract it slightly by maybe featuring a lawyer or getting someone other than Denise Van Outen to narrate. Guys, you’re not helping me out here. It’s hard enough trying to get through the Essex jokes when I tell people where I live, let alone having to convince people I do not have, nor do I ever plan on getting, a vajazzle.
I love living in Essex. I think it’s one of the prettiest counties in the UK and has some of the friendliest down-to-earth people you’ll ever meet. It’s steeped in history. Did you know Colchester used to be the capital of England? And that BBC Essex is the most listened to local radio station in the UK? And that it has the record for sunniest place in the UK? And the highest population of adders? And the longest pier in the world?
It’s not all about partying and designer clothes and a generation of young people who have no idea who the current prime minister is.
So if/when you watch the show, take it with a pinch of salt. We’re not all like that, babes. Read more by Laura.