You never know when your life is going to change. You wake up, you brush your teeth, you shower, you eat, you go to work – you've done this thousands of times before. The mundanity of everyday life has its way of lulling us into a false sense of security. We think things will remain the same as they are… the same as they've always been.
And then it happens. You get that promotion, or you get accepted into that school, you meet the person you'll spend the rest of your life with, you chance on a lifechanging hobby – you get the point. Life can change in an instant, and most of the time, the extraordinary occurs on an ordinary day, just like any other. Me? Well, my life changed less than 24 hours ago, when my sadistic editor asked if I could watch the entire first season of Geordie Shore and write a story about it.
See, I hate reality TV. Or at least, I thought I did. To be completely honest, I never really gave it much thought. At some point, somewhere in my life, my brain took the words 'reality' and 'TV', sewed them together, and placed them in the 'waste of time' basket. And that was that. For so long I walked around with this sub-conscious air of superiority.
But now I've just finished the entire first season of Geordie Shore, and I need a minute. I just need to step outside. I need some damn air.
There's a meme floating around the internet; a picture of Billy Ray Cyrus with his gaze slightly off camera, pensive, deep in thought. I can't get it out of my head. His caption; simple, elegant – the human condition encapsulated in four words: "much to think about." As I sit in my backyard, staring up at the cloudy Melbourne sky, smoking a dart not because I feel like it, but because it's the only thing my mind can manage right now, it's Billy Ray's pensive stare that I cannot shake from my psyche. I feel like he's the only one who understands. I just- I need some time to process.
What the fuck does 'howay' mean? And 'scran', what the hell is that? I genuinely looked for subtitles about four minutes in. Proper like. The entire first episode I sat there, notepad in hand, literally physically repelling at what I was seeing. It was like taking all of the worst people you went to high school with, and somehow magnetising and exaggerating their most intense tendencies, and then breeding them for a few generations, until what resulted was the four lads and lasses that made up the cast of Season One.
But then distaste made way for intrigue, and then James introduced himself in his first confessional by saying his "full-time occupation was smashing birds," and I fucking laughed – not for what he said exactly, but how he said it. The guys and girls of the house were just so unapologetically crass and shallow – it was kind of refreshing.
By episode two I began to be able to catch about 50% of what they were saying, which was a marked improvement of my comprehension rate of 30% in the first ep. Except for Greg, who even at the final episode still sounded like an Animal Crossing character. And as my understanding of the horrible, horrible Geordie accent grew, so too did my fondness for (some of) the protagonists.
By episode three I found myself thinking: my god, do these people go out every night? It was exhausting just watching it all. Exhausting, and off-putting… I think it's because the idea of making out with some random in today's climate is just not very social-distancey. Yet the way this lot was carrying on it was as if communicable diseases hadn't even been invented yet. Everyone was kissing and snogging and fighting and necking and dancing and sweating and breathing and oh my god I'm going to have a panic attack put on a fucking mask.
Anyway, I had other big questions too. Like how many V-necks does Jay own? What's with all the flimsy little scarf and t-shirt combos? How the fuck does anyone get a tan in Newcastle? And please, for the love of fucking god, what the hell does 'Canny' mean??? I hate it. I hate it so much.
But I digress. The point is, I was starting to become somewhat interested in the lives of these messed up people, if only for the reason that watching them was making me feel so much better about my own life. There was some comfort in knowing that no matter how bad I screwed up, there was no way it could ever get as bad as the chaos I was seeing unfold on screen.
It's the same kind of comfort I get when I watch nature documentaries. When I see a lion take down a gazelle, or a pack of hyenas eating a wildebeest stuck in the mud, ass-first while it's still alive, it's like, yeah, I got a parking fine today, but this kind of shit is proof that it could always be worse. And this is what Geordie Shore became for me; a nature documentary on trash people.
Or so I told myself, see, putting it that way makes it seem as if I wasn't pulled into the drama, like I was somehow above it, like I wasn't yelling at the TV calling Holly's boyfriend a simp for staying with her after she slept with Gaz on the first night and kissed every bloke in Newcastle, or audibly sighing oh my god STOP this is so toxic as Jay and Vicky had their 12th drunken argument about their will-they-won't-they little half relationship. And do not even get me started on Charlotte and Gaz. Nah. Not going there.
And then, just as I was almost maybe somewhat feeling like I was possibly just a little bit interested in what would happen next. It was over. The credits rolled on the final episode, and it was time to write this article. But I felt empty. Where do I begin? I need a dart. I just need to process.
So now I'm in my backyard, staring at my dog chewing a huge fuck-off bone as big as my forearm. He seems happy. He has his bone. He's chewing his bone. He's a dog. That's what he does. He is living life to its most pure potential. Episode one, Season One of Geordie Shore opens with Gaz staring straight at the camera – "There's nothing to worry about, we're gonna live it up true Geordie style."
And for Gaz, there isn't anything to worry about. In his own words, he "should have a degree in pulling women." Smashing birds is Gaz's full-time occupation. Smashing Birds is what Gaz does. My dog chews his bone, Gaz smashes birds.
We walk around with our imposter syndromes and our social anxieties; easy destinations to reach for anyone who spends too much time swimming in their own head. But none of these young Geordies seemed to have that problem.
"My biggest fear is getting wrinkles," – Jay
"I've never kissed anyone without a six-pack," – Charlotte
"The hardest graft I've ever done is doing me hair," – James
"(Inaudible)" – Greg
The cast of Geordie Shore Season One are tacky, messy, chaotic, petty, superficial, and pure. They're not trying to be anything other than what they are. They're absolute mingas (did I use that right?) and they don't give two shits about it. They are not getting caught up in any existential angst anytime soon. They get smashed, they go out, they neck on with randoms, they pull, they sleep. Repeat.
They're just people. Doing their best to find some sort of purpose on this slowly dying rock. They're people who don't let their heads get in the way of what they want. "A Geordie will always be partyin'."
This was just meant to be a dumb assignment, but watching the entire first season of Geordie Shore in 24 hours forced me to re-examine my relationship with what I had thus far labelled 'trash TV'; and the subsequent people who indulged in such shows.
Who am I to judge? I think to myself as I search MTV's catalogue for Geordie Shore Season Two.
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