Would you rather be stuck on a desert island with the cast of Made in Chelsea or The Only Way is Essex?
This question came to mind when I recently watched both shows on the same night. TOWIE’s Chloe was getting the strength she needed from her friends to end her 8-year-relationship with unreliable Jake….while MIC’s Steph was cracking onto her friend Binky’s ex-boyfriend Mytton.
Of course backstabbing, betrayal and rows are integral to both shows – this is the stuff structured reality is made of and I wouldn’t want it any other way.
But while watching these two contrasting scenes, I realised that TOWIE has touching moments of humanity, kindness and community that simply aren’t part of MIC’s DNA.
The idea that ITVBe’s Essex-set reality show could have any goodness in it might sound laughable to those who have never properly watched it, but there’s a surprising amount of loyalty, support and emotional intelligence – especially among the women.
This series saw Georgia and Chloe Sims support Danielle in a calm and empathetic way through her confusing time with Lockie, while Chloe Lewis was told she should “have faith in herself” as she found the courage to tell her boyfriend she was too good for him. We’ve all found power in the support of our friends, and these scenes made me want to cheer for the women of TOWIE.
And when Bobby got a boyfriend, his friends didn’t pick holes in his happiness, whereas in MIC, Jamie and Spencer practically campaign for their mates to be single, often finding girls for them to be unfaithful with.
Even when Essex is filled with nasty rumours and the cast is ‘aggy’ beyond belief, everyone’s so openly furious or jealous that it all explodes and they have it out face-to-face. And it’s rare that friends turn on each other, with the arguments usually taking place with new kids on the block.
Conversely, MIC’s new storyline, which began with Steph casually announcing that she fancied her friend’s cheating ex boyfriend (who has a girlfriend), is something that wouldn’t happen on TOWIE these days. “We date everyone, that’s just what we do” says Jamie casually this week.
While the Essex clan’s moral code is ridiculously rigid (even when Dan talked to new girl Chloe Meadows, it was as if he’d cheated on his girlfriend) at least the rules are clear. I know the pool of suitable sloanes in SW3 is tiny, but the MIC cast often have a fickle, school mentality towards each other which can be unappealing to watch.
So I’d rather be stuck on a desert island with the cast of TOWIE. I reckon they’d build a huge, slightly unstable raft for everyone – while the MIC lot would be too busy trying to push each other into the ocean.