THEY promised real people and real storylines, but viewers of The Shire’s first episode would probably agree that the locations were the most authentic part of the show.
Australian audiences finally got to see what all the hype surrounding the reality series was about when it premiered last night.
But a storm broke this morning, with many online readers sending in comments/letters to the editoroutraged at how the shire was represented.
Others were upset by media comments by Sutherland Shire Mayor Carol Provan about cast members.
But the mayor was quick to defend her comments questioning whether some of them lived in the shire.
Cr Provan said she was not criticising where they were from but for what they were promoting.
''Two of the cast members were so tanned they were almost orange,’’ Cr Provan said.
''They are not good ambassadors for young girls and I don’t think they should be going around promoting the benefits of botox.’’
The half-hour episode kicked off with some shots over Captain Cook bridge, the waterways and Cronulla beach, which did in fact highlight some of the shire’s best assets.
But from the opening scenes, one could be confused that they were watching a soap drama such as Channel Seven’s Home and Away, rather than a “dramality” series.
The format of the first episode followed several different storylines. The first was of protagonist Mitch Dean and his friends Andy Lee and Simon Jaeger, plus some run-ins with his ex-girlfriend Gabby. Next off the rank were best friends and lovers of all things fake, Vernesa and Sophie. Aspiring rapper Rif Raf debuted some of his tunes. And finally there was Beckaa, the girl who loved spending her daddy’s money.
Mitch, 23, narrates the first episode and introduces the shire as what he likes to call “god’s country”. Fast-forward to some small talk with his best mate Simon over the phone about the “pumping surf’’ and ‘‘hot chicks’’ and we have the next scene at the beach. And because it’s a “dramality” - where it is still supposed to be real dialogue but somewhat staged scenarios — viewers see a slightly awkward run-in between Mitch and Simon with Gabby and her brother.
This encounter presents a good opportunity to introduce a new cast member into the mix with Mitch inviting Gabby to a party at Rif Raf’s house. Cue the next scene at a luxurious property at Sylvania Waters where we meet Joel aka Rif Raf and his mate Moukalati. Rif Raf is testing out some of his rap tunes, which may sound a little amateur but it still manages to help his name trend worldwide on Twitter.
Vernesa and Sophie are real from the get go about how they feel about their looks. They both admit to loving fake tan, fake boobs and fake lips. Sophie demonstrates how to use a fat cultivating machine and explains that her goal is to make everyone in the shire look skinner. And Vernesa freaks out about a grey hair, not being allowed to get bigger lips and gives audiences a show on the process of botox – literally getting a needle stuck into her forehead and yes, this is a PG-rated show.
Back at Sydney International Airport is where viewers meet Beckaa. She has just come home from Dubai where she came back with several handbags and a new nose. And just like any other girl who “loves the high life,’’ Beckaa, 20, loves spending other people’s money. In this case, she loves maxing out her dad’s $15,000 credit card each month. Her best friends Kris and Stace tell her they like her nose. But when it’s just the two of them and a camera, one admits it looks like two holes drilled in her face and the other says she looks like a pig. The next thing she wants is a boob job – which her friends don’t argue about.
The last scene is at Rif Raf’s house where the party is pumping with people frolicking around the pool in their swimwear. Mitch is talking to an ex-girlfriend when Gabby, his most recent ex, walks into the party. She tells him he is the one she wants. And with that, viewers are left with a cliffhanger – will they or won’t they get back together.
Fans of reality television shows such as the US MTV series The Hills and Jersey Shore might see similar plots in The Shire including love lines, social outings and self-absorbed cast members. The dialogue for each storyline does seem scripted but then it could just be a case of these cast members struggling to show their “real” self in the first episode.
Tegan Rogers, a singing teacher, and Kerry, a restaurant manager, were the only two cast members from the opening credits who were not introduced in this episode. So there’s a good chance that viewers, who choose to tune in for a second episode, will see some more storylines next week.
The Shire hashtag was still trending worldwide on Twitter the morning after the show.
Residents, personalities and people from around Australia used the social media outlet to put in their two cents about the show. Most critiqued the episode with the occasional supportive Tweet.
Former model Sarah Murdoch said: OK The Shire. Those girls. I am seriously laughing out loud.
Australian dance choreographers The Squared Division said: Will be watching next week! Can’t believe these people exist – LOVE!
St George Dragons player Brett Morris said: The people who made The Shire should give themselves an uppercut.
Funny man Peter Helliar wrote: Thinking of everyone in The (actual) Shire. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Tomorrow is a brand new day. #theShire
What did you think of the first episode of The Shire? Click on the comment link below the story to have your say.