Kerry Provenzano

Shows like The Only Way Is Essex produce poor role models for teenagers, says Kerry
Shows like The Only Way Is Essex produce poor role models for teenagers, says Kerry

There comes a time when you find yourself in a situation thinking ‘I don’t believe it, I’m doing what I said I would never do’.

For me, that moment was when I sat down a few weeks ago to watch the final episode of The Only Way is Essex.

If you’ve never seen it before, I urge you to stay away when the next series starts.

I mean it. Avoid it like the plague because it’s one of those shows you moan about and cringe at, but at the same time you just can’t stop watching it.

It’s not just TOWIE either. Only a few months ago I outwardly judged my friend, Shauna, for going on about Keeping Up With the Kardashians only to think one night ‘OK, I’ll give it a go’.

Sure enough, two hours later I was glued. What had I become [puts hand over face and sighs dramatically].

One of the things that became most evident while I began to indulge of my new guilty pleasure of seriously bad TV was that I began to understand where phrases and behaviours of some people my age had come from.

As far as I knew, ‘reem’ sounded like something you scream when you stub your toe, and as for ‘jel’, that was the misspelt version of the gunk guys put in their hair... until I saw TOWIE, of course.

It doesn’t just stop at linguistic coinage either, I stumbled across Geordie Shore and it made me realise that the cliché that ‘TV shows can cause problems in society’ wasn’t far from the truth.

And in this particular show, any feminist would have wanted to bang her head against the wall.

A couple would have a huge argument and no matter how much of an idiot (to phrase it politely) the guy was being, it’d always be the girl who crawled back sobbing her apologies.

What sort of example does that set?

I realised that all this time that I’d avoided watching these shows, I’d been very blinkered to where some teenagers found their role models.

The things these reality ‘stars’ were saying, the way they were acting all made them seem like reincarnations of people I’d already come across.

It seems as though there can be a massive error in the selection of role models and it’s sad beyond comprehension that some teenagers were more upset by Jay leaving Geordie Shore than at the death of Neil Armstrong, the man who broke new frontiers with that little matter of landing on the Moon in July 1969.

If that’s not a sickening imbalance, then I don’t know what is.