If there is any real triumph to reality TV it is that it has managed to package and commodify nihilism and despair for our collective pleasure. It’s a very modern and creative meaningless, futile horror as well. There are no plagues desolating everything anyone holds dear or mad tyrannical governments crushing the slightest spark of joy or friendship. Instead, we are greeted with either a relentless series of images displaying how the disgustingly rich and/or peerlessly stupid waste their time, as with the soul sucking TOWIE, or we have more gritty down trodden proletariat offerings in the form of ITV’s modern bear pit cum gladiatorial arena Jeremy Kyle.
Party House sits firmly in the former category as the tip of a lumbering monumental colossus, constructed primarily from big brothers offspring, that has steadily staggered its way through TV over the past 20 years. It very similar to the deliriously sickening Scousewives Made In Essex trinity in that it’s a self-admitted unreal reality TV show, with various scenes being staged.
The basic premise is fairly simple: troll the length and breadth of Britain’s dubiously green and pleasant land to find a group of gullible, bitchy twenty-somethings whose respective hair and makeup is more complex than their portrayed characters. Give them 12 tanker ships full of booze and a swank house to wreck and let the spontaneous/staged carnage and kafuffles unfurl.
Each episode is a hour-long journey though opulent gluttony, catty arguments and the predictable makeup/breakup/make out scenes. Like its unholy spiritual predecessors, Party House seems to have decided not just to dispense with the whole “reality” thing but to actively catapult it into low orbit. The vast majority of screen time is taken up with suspiciously well framed and shot images of drunken revelers partying their life and dignity away or just simply lying in a puddle of their own vomit and other unknown liquids. Even the introductions and more downplayed talking scenes look like they have jumped straight out of a Hollywood film. I am reminded of one particular introduction where a bearded hunk, whose name now thankfully alludes me, is introduced doing his day time job as a garage mechanic. The camera moves slowly in as he welds away for him to remove in slow motion his welding mask which reveals a perfectly geometric quiff. The hours of work he has apparently engaged in having done nothing to defeat this stubborn up turned hair that sat defiantly unruffled and unbruised upon his head. Frankly, you are only one explosion away from the introduction of every Michael Bay movie ever.
How much you will ultimately like Party House will depend entirely on how much you enjoy its carefully constructed and sleekly packaged meaninglessness vapidity. One thing which it has over its other competitors is that it condenses all the drama of a series into a single episode. Each episode introduces a new gang of scwabberling morons where the standard cat fights/breakups/make ups and off-screen shagging is kept to a tight schedule so as to fit into a single night. In this sense even the most ardent pretentious misanthrope, such as myself, can enjoy it more so than something like Made In Chelsea because it is over relatively quickly, like a really efficient bowel movement.