I used to be a reality television show hack. From X Factor to Big Brother, I was there, sat like a couch potato watching whatever rubbish was being rolled out in front of me. I can’t possibly justify my viewing, it was junk television and for the most part still is. In a way, it’s our guilty pleasure. We take to Facebook and Twitter to rant and rave about it, but our watching it belies the hypocrisy of these grumblings.
When RTÉ Two announced they had a reality television show lined up, I didn’t take much notice. Despite seeing some rave reviews on Twitter, I still didn’t tune in. Saturday night rolled around and following a nail-biting episode of The X Factor, I flicked on The Saturday Night Show with journalist-turned-presenter, Brendan O’Connor.
Amongst his guests, were three of the women from the new reality televisions show, “Connected”. A modest name I thought. Intrigued by not only the clips from the programme shown, but also how they came across during the interview, I ventured onto the RTÉ Player. I am now fully bingeing on it.
The premise of the show is simple. Six women are given a camera and record their lives for ten months or so. It charts the ups and downs of life and portrays them not as silly reality television stars, but as real women. They are not “television stars”. Not in any sense of the word, in my opinion. They are six women telling their own story, all different but all unique.
What I found with all six was this rawness that couldn’t be unleashed in a regular reality TV show. It’s something that unites not only women, but all of us as humans. This wonderful sense of genuine emotion that we so rarely see, particularly on our screens on a weekday night. Spielberg’s cameras could not capture what a small hand-held camera can. It sees the cracks, the imperfections and none of this is glossed over in “Connected”.
While all women are different, some struggles are universal and ones women across all ages can relate to.
From unemployment and finding your feet in the world, to moments of grief, turbulent relationships, the financial struggles and the impact of the recession, loving your job, hating your job, some are in college and some are still figuring it all out.
It differs from anything we’ve seen on Irish screens in a long time.
Despite all the real problems, there is a wonderful humour to the women, who age between twenty and forty. Behind the vulnerability that is often conveyed, all are extremely tough and what is revealed is admirable.
For a half hour show, it fits a lot in and while I’m impatiently waiting for the next episode, it taught me that life is for experiencing. These women don’t sit about the house, regardless of whatever problems they have. They get out there, they’re proactive and while they may feel rubbish, they get on with things. They cry, laugh and vent their frustration to the camera.
I don’t think I realised how much of an impact the show would have on me, but as someone who has not figured it all out and is currently sitting at home in her pyjamas typing away, it gives me this reassurance that we’re all in the same boat.
Some are just paddling faster than others.