‘The Circle’ – Channel 4

The Circle is a new social media reality show, launched in the week that Channel 5 has finally confirmed what viewers have known for years. Big Brother, once the undisputed king of reality shows, is dead as a dodo. It’s strange times indeed in telly land. The Circle was trailed heavily on Channel 4 for weeks, with each advert being a full instruction manual for the show, not really helping the initial audience reaction that it was overly complicated. Then before and after every ad break the presenters Alice Levine (My Dad Wrote a Porno podcast, coming to HBO in 2019) and Maya Jama (dunno, off some youth radio show at a guess) took the opportunity to again explain the rules in painful detail. We get it  – you’re expecting the audience to be on the thicker end of the education spectrum.

So this is the start of three weeks of Alice and Maya talking about a bunch of people talking to themselves in their pokey little flats, sorry apartments, with an all-knowing Alexa console for company unless they’ve had the foresight to bring their own baby or  turtle for company. The twist on the classic Big Brother format is that they don’t ever meet face-to-face. All contact is conducted via a specially-designed social media platform – the eponymous Circle. The total number of contestants vying for the £50,000 prize is eight which is surely more than enough. But apparently people who get evicted get replaced! Dear God –  is this Black Mirror? Is three weeks actually eternity? Will it ever end?

Circle+hero
Alice and Maya explain the rules again, and again, and again – we’re none the wiser

So down to the fundamentals – how do you get people to like you? Are you true to yourself, as every Insta bio assure us is the way, the truth and the light, or are you more controlling of the image you portray to the world. Do you edit out your bad bits and concentrate on your good bits, both in your personality and your physicality or is it slightly repulsive to be so obviously manipulative? Is all this false advertising even ethical? Some of these contestants have said fuck ethics and they’re halfway to scamming retirees out of their pension as a sketchy African prince.

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Ordinary Lies: Series 2, Ep 2 – On the Box

Ordinary Lies is a BBC drama now in its second series made up of interconnecting stories about colleagues in a workplace who all have dark secrets set to be revealed.  Series 1 starred Max Beesley in a car dealership in Warrington and series 2 is set in a Sports Direct style clothing company warehouse in Cardiff.

Episode 2 looked most interesting, as it deals with very topical issues of catfishing and editing your life to show they very best bits only on social media. It’s all an illusion because real life is so boring.

This is bright and funky drama, and feels very daytime like it should be in an early afternoon Doctors slot. Not a bad thing, just a sightly unusual tone for a drama broadcast at 9pm. Although I feel I must complain about one thing – the  unrealistic sunshine. This is not usually available in South Wales, even at the height of summer.

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First Birthday!

It’s my birthday! I’m not 100% sure (and WordPress makes it hard to find out) but I’m going to record this day 17th August as the official Dead Pixel Test first birthday. I know I’m close because it was last summer I started to see articles about how there’s too much high quality tv to try to keep up with. I’d been feeling that way for a while and it was heartening to hear other telly fans and industry people say it too. That, and a nagging desire to write more, was the drive to start the blog.

To be honest we shouldn’t complain. You don’t have to go to the cinema to see beautiful complicated drama any more, or the newest comedy sensation. You can stay in with your slippers on. TV isn’t just silly game shows and amusingly shaped vegetables any more. Too many good things is a bit ‘first world problems’, I know, but you want to give your precious leisure time to something worthwhile. Literally worthy of your attention and devotion. And I like to think that over the course of the year I’ve helped bring a little more attention to great television (Murder in Successville, Chewing Gum, Billions) and show that even if everyone is talking about it, it still might be a total stinker which you should do your utmost to avoid (Marcella, Gamechangers, A Gert Lush Christmas).

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‘House of Hypochondriacs’- On the Box

Important note: this blog post was written after watching the show and I’ve left it exactly as written at the time, but please see the comment from Shaun (a participant on the show) below. He’s not happy with how his comments were edited by Channel 4, and I’m very thankful for him contacting me to set the record straight.

I am not well.

It’s a virus, or a weird skin thing, or very possibly both. I need to leave it alone and it’ll get better and I need to hurry to Clinical Photography and get pictures taken to aid diagnosis. I need to continue life as normal and I need to stop using soap, cut myself off from all contact with humans and animals and never even look at another kiwi fruit for the rest of my life.

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