Wednesday, October 03, 2012

"Baggage" - a review

This will be a rant. I couldn’t sleep last night because I had tried to watch Gok Wan’s new TV show , ‘Baggage’, earlier in the day and the half of it that I did watch was so awful I was itching to get my HATRED for the show off my chest.

Channel 4 brands it as follows:

Gok Wan hosts this dating game show series, where contestants must choose and reject potential partners on the basis of their baggage. Daters choose from three contestants who gradually reveal the hidden secrets and crazy flaws that they'd normally keep firmly under wraps on a first date.
As the show goes on, the contestants bring on bigger and bigger suitcases, which they open to reveal their secrets. And the bigger the bag, the bigger the Baggage! Who'll find love and win a romantic holiday, and who'll have just too much Baggage?”
Here are 5 reasons why ‘Baggage’ is a huge waste of space:

1.    The half-dressed girls in shiny outfits
Gok’s assistants ooze tackiness and I actually cringed at the way they enter the studio and provocatively bend down to present a suitcase…completely unnecessary. I get the whole ‘baggage’/luggage/flight attendant theme (although, thinking about it, last time I got a flight it was a conveyor belt that brought me my suitcase…) but watching this is like stepping back in time/something I wasn’t aware I’d signed up for.

2.   Nothing of note is actually said
The show’s concept is flawed. Not only does nobody actually care about pointless facts about people that the viewers will gain no attachment to whatsoever given that they are only on the television for an absolute maximum of 30 minutes in total but the ‘baggage’ is hardly something that would put you off going on an expenses-paid romantic holiday. The game show features like the names of the rounds such as ‘Big Baggage’ which reveals that one of the potential dates is a huge Harry Potter fan really is quite misleading. For a show pretending to be charged with innuendo, the so –called ‘baggage’ is tame and boring. It is genuinely a complete waste of time.

3.    It is humiliating for the contestants
Sure, they get to parade down the steps and walk a few metres flaunting their good (?) looks, but they are ridiculed. Even the audience look bored and over-compensate by putting all their energy into 'oooooh'-ing, clapping and wolf-whistling with unnatural pace and vigour. In Episode 1, one poor girl was pretty much victimised by Gok who stereotyped her as a blonde bimbo and made snide remarks about her lack of intelligence on no sound basis whatsoever. I understand that the contestants willingly put themselves forward for the show but the very behaviour that the show tries to pull off as ‘banter’ is degrading and not really the direction we should be heading towards. The girl was actually scowling as she left the studio, having just been rejected for revealing her trust issues. As well as the evident sexist slant, the final round is also humiliating. In this final round before the couple win the holiday the last piece of ‘baggage’ is revealed, only this time it is the deepest, darkest secret of the guy/girl who has been choosing so far – except, if the potential date guesses what the secret is correctly (50:50 odds), they have no chance to say that this ‘baggage’ is too much to handle, thus exhibiting the potential date as desperate and submissive. And off they go, hand in hand, perhaps unwillingly having just discovered that their date lives with their Nana. Shock horror.

4.    The delusional idea of ‘beauty’
Okay so I only made it half way through Episode 1 and may be proved wrong on this point if an atypical candidate is put forward (though I doubt it) but from what I saw, the girls at least that were brought out as potential dates fit a very specific definition of ‘female’. The game’s methodology tries to focus on things other than appearance i.e. candidates choose who to date based on their secrets, but unfortunately is tainted firstly by the fact that the candidate can see all the potential dates and thereby pick based on looks anyway, and secondly, Gok’s every other sentence describing how ‘gorgeous’ these dates are. Beautiful people are obviously allowed to be on television but what I think I have a problem with is that it is the same type of female which is presented as ‘stunning’ and ‘beautiful’ - there is literally no variation other than hair colour and I don’t think that I have ever seen anybody that resembles me. This can’t do much for self-esteem of young people either who are so heavily influenced by what they see on television. Yet another programme that promotes fakery.

5.  Gok Wan himself
I would have thought that a man who attempts to boost self-confidence of women in other shows such as ‘How to Look Good Naked’ and ‘Gok’s Fashion Fix’ would not engage in a show that embodies the above. Clearly Gok is unfazed by the fickleness of what he promotes by presenting this show and actually embraces it sinking into a patronising role which, judging by the facial expressions of those who took part in the first half of Episode 1, were ill-received.

Not impressed. 

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