I’m a bit of a trash TV addict. My habit started young with My Super Sweet 16, Don’t Tell the Bride, and pretty much any other semi-reality format I could wrap my peepers around. And now it continues as I begin my twenties – nothing has changed. Well…actually, one thing has changed. The content of the trash that I watch has got a lot more adult, and now involves endless ‘fucks’ and drug references, rather than just ‘THIS IS THE WRONG TIARA’ and some noisy crying. But, y’know, horses for courses.
Being a feminist and having a penchant for crap TV is a hard line to walk because like a lot of mainstream culture, there’s usually an unfortunate dose of misogyny in it somewhere. There’s always something that will make me cringe, or spill Earl Grey all over my lap because I’m screaming, ‘No, no, no, that’s…that’s a terrible message…please no’, as if the Kardashians can hear me. Trash TV is such the good pal of mine who sometimes behaves like a total asshole, and I hate watching it be sexist and do sexist things. I come home from sitting in a university library for seven hours, and all I want to do is snuggle up with my laptop and not think for a while, but that’s quite difficult to do when you’re watching the same old ‘hapless groom/crazy bride’ formula. Again. Then Geordie Shore came along, and changed everything.
On the surface, Geordie Shore is a show that’s enjoyable to watch because it seems to have very little substance to it (and I can vicariously live through their exploits without getting a hangover). However, after some analysis and a lot of…erm…data, (we’re calling my TV-watching habit ‘collecting data’ now, officially), I have surmised that Geordie Shore is actually quite feminist. Bear with me, please, before you skewer me on the sharp end of a bottle of Lambrini.
Where on TV do we really get an honest portrayal of women’s bodies? And where do we see women who aren’t just reduced to their body? This, after all, is a major struggle for feminism at the moment: the lack of representative and varied female bodies in the media. You might think that the parade of fake tan and hair extensions on Geordie Shore isn’t particularly honest, but the key thing to note is that we don’t just see the cast post-salon, coiffured and ready to go. We see them all lined up in front of a mirror, hair shooting off in a hundred directions waiting to be back-combed, and then we see them the next morning, bare-faced and wearing a massive t-shirt, talking about how wrecked they were last night. And the boys are exactly the same. They take just as long to get ready for one of their famous nights out in Newcastle, what with their weight-lifting, chest-shaving and deep-V-measuring. There’s no illusion, no ridiculous expectations, and nothing that points at a lone, female viewer like myself and says: ‘You’re weird. You should look like Miranda Kerr, you gross lump.’
And you know what? It’s refreshing to see a woman on TV say, ‘I shit myself’ while on holiday in Cancun. It’s refreshing to hear a woman talk about her ‘fairy’ and her body hair (or lack thereof) like she doesn’t give a shit what anyone else thinks. And it’s particularly refreshing to see all their relationships and friendships unfold at the same time. I don’t care how scripted it may be (as aforementioned, I love the trash), it’s still a darnsight more affectionate than watching the characters on Made in Chelsea tear each other verbally limb from limb.
Geordie Shore is doing something that very few TV shows do. It’s saying: ‘Here are some women who enjoy sex and fake tan. Now here they are vomiting on a beach. Now here are some men who enjoy sex and fake tan. Now here they are vomiting on a beach as well.’ Within that untidy, drunken, lovely house, littered with false eyelashes, is a utopia of gender equality, where they all get pissed, piss themselves and have complete body autonomy.
‘Tonight, I am going to BANG,’ Charlotte will say, gleefully, her eyes bulging. And she does, and isn’t that wonderful? You can tell this is subversive stuff because the show has been accused of being ‘pornographic’, mainly because of its night-vision sex cameras and the constant use of the word ‘cock’. But to me, pornography is material created to encourage people to masturbate. And more often than not, unless you’re looking at some pretty niche amateur stuff, porn is aimed at straight men. There’s a lot of exaggerated moaning, and very few genuine female orgasms, and there are a lot of women’s faces covered in cum. That’s the majority of pornography, that’s the abysmal state it’s in. Women’s pleasure is barely even a factor; they’re a prop.
The women of Geordie Shore (that ‘pornographic’ show, remember) talk about dildos they’ve bought for their own pleasure, the cocks that they want to go down on, and the men that they want to have sex with, and then we see some duvets bobbing up and down in the dark whilst they act upon all three. That’s the extent of the pornographic content. It’s just conversations that men and women have been having with each other and themselves since pubs were invented. So it seems to me that when someone brands Geordie Shore ‘pornographic’, what they’re really saying is, ‘These men and women talk about sex a lot and then go out and have it, and I’ll be damned if I can get on board with that!’ Yeah, thanks dude.
If you want further proof of how great it is, just look at how the (overwhelming malicious) press and the Twitterati respond to the women on Geordie Shore. All criticism seems to revolve around the cast being ‘bad role models’, as if they purport to be anything but 23-year-olds paid to get pissed. I think we’d all be bad role models under those circumstances. And then it’s the idea that they’re ‘fat’ and they ‘dress like slags’. Well, I think we all know what to do with that one.
Geordie Shore isn’t even my guilty pleasure anymore, it’s officially A Pleasure, with capital letters and bells on. I enjoy the sexual exploits, the soundtrack, the chaos, hell, even the accents. I enjoy the fact that the women (and of course, men) of Geordie Shore do what they want with their bodies and refuse to apologise for it. And I enjoy the fact that it’s loudly-yet-quietly ground-breaking. Three cheers for the men and women of Geordie Shore: I bloody love you, you beautiful, horny lot.