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Posts Tagged ‘mockumentary’

Being critical of reality television in general,  I’ve spent little of my precious viewing time watching what the British have produced in that genre.  Okay, I’ll admit I couldn’t turn away from that fascinating ball of contradiction known as My Big Fat Gypsy Wedding, but can you really blame me?

A Irish Traveller girl’s dream come true.

…And I felt it necessary to watch one episode of The Only Way is Essex if only to learn more about cutting edge beauty trends.

For anyone not familiar with this program, it reminds me of the endless hook-ups and artificially generated drama of The Hills (my daughter used to watch it, all right).  The fake tans and male obsession to be ridiculously muscular smacks of that groundbreaking American series, The Jersey Shore.  While I couldn’t ignore the barrage of  media attention,  I can proudly say I’ve never seen a single episode of TJS.

My main complaints about such programs are the self-involved, superficial reality “stars”, their petty little theatrics and the heavy- handed editing that manufactures arguments and other uncomfortable moments.  Therefore, you might find it a contradictory fact that I quite enjoy mockumentaries, that clever form of satire which “mocks” the documentary/reality hybrid. As a rule these series are full of immature and/or incompetent adults engaged in painfully awkward situations.  But through a sense of collusion with the “film crew/documentarian”,  the viewer feels more inclined to root for the characters, no matter how flawed they might be.  And as real as it might seem, you know the characters are just that – exaggerated characterizations of dysfunctional people.

I believe what makes the British so good at this type of comedy is a tendency towards subtle, dry humor and the ability to affect a believable and authoritative tone – in many cases, it’s the accent I’m sure.

 

For my money, the quintessential example of this genre is The Office with David Brent as the outwardly confident but professionally inadequate and socially deficient boss.  Apparently many people who watched The Office when it first went out on television believed they were watching a real BBC documentary.  But I’ve talked about this classic plenty of times so let me introduce you to some lesser known mockumentaries.

People Like Us:  Hosted by fictional, bumbling  tv journalist Ray Mallard, this series pokes fun at the mundane lives of everyday people and how they try to  inflate the importance of  their lives to the rest of the world.

 

Come Fly With Me:  Simulating the style and format of British reality series Airport, David Walliams and Matt Lucas portray dozens of airport employees and customers, from pilots to baggage handlers.  In my opinion, it’s not on par with  Little Britain, but I still marvel at the actors’ ability to transform so completely that they almost disappear. My husband thought that Precious, the work shy coffee kiosk attendant was an actress who had been hired for just that role.

Matt Lucas in a very unusual role as “Matt Lucas”

Matt Lucas as Precious


 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Twenty Twelve – Just in time for the London Olympics, this show examines, in a humorous and sadly accurate way, how inefficient committees are. Everything that can does go wrong and the tongue in cheek narration only underscores the incompetence of public servants in dealing with such a monumental project.  Series 2 is now on YouTube which I haven’t gotten around to seeing yet, but if it’s full of creative bombs like this one, I can’t wait.

What do you prefer, reality or the parody of reality?

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