There are some telly moments that are so familiar, they're completely reassuring. Ross and Rachel getting back together on Friends, someone on Come Dine With Me messing up a souffle, Liz McDonald in leopard print on Corrie. Y'know, reliable.
On TOWIE and Made in Chelsea, though, it's people not being able to exchange 30 seconds of small talk outside a coffee shop in Romford without accidentally spilling a major-league bombshell secret the same way each time. Here's how all "structured reality" reveals play out...
1. The Beginning
A total random – like Mark-Francis and Victoria, who have probably met Sam Thompson and Tiffany Watson about twice in their lives – discovers a secret. In TOWIE, the rule is that this part almost always involves Gemma Collins.
2. The "Coincidental" Meet-Up
The mate whacks on about eight layers of eyeliner, heads out for a Romford coffee (TOWIE) or a dubious loiter next to the Thames (MiC) and bumps into someone close to The Person Involved In The Secret. For absolutely no reason, with no context whatsoever and despite promising their mate about ten minutes ago they wouldn't say anything, they tell them absolutely bleedin' everything.
3. The Weird Omissions
For newcomers to structured-reality TV, this is a very, very weird part. You'll be watching, thinking, "Why is no-one mentioning that this was on the front page of The Sun?" but this is the first rule of structured-reality club: no-one can mention the bit about them all being famous.
So watch out for TOWIE's Megan McKenna glossing over exactly how she heard about Pete Wicks sexting his ex, or Andy from MiC never naming the bloke he thinks Louise Thompson allegedly spent the night with, owing to the fact that everyone knows he's a world-famous musician and that's not relatable for the viewers. Oh, and despite the fact that most of the indiscretions always happen at personal appearances, no-one can mention that either. Because there isn't much call for a barista from Chelmsford to do PAs at clubs in Oldham.
4. The Big Reveal
Now that the mate knows what's gone down, they'll discuss whether they should reveal it with another crew of friends. When Cheska and Fran were in Made in Chelsea, they owned this part.
Everyone will unanimously and sombrely, with a glint in their eye that says "AWESOME GOSSIP", vote that they have to really, though they obviously don't want to. Then they will head round to their mate's house – Lydia Bright's kitchen table is a favourite spot for these reveals – to look shifty and drink tea until they're ready to spill their big dramatic secret.
5. The Confrontation
Look at that! Now the secret is out, a tenuously-themed party or stupendously posh dinner with lots of red wine has been scheduled. It's happened to everyone from Ricky and Jess to Arg, floundering in the pool while Gemma told him he wasn't "ever going to get this candy", to Spencer Matthews, pretty much every time he's ever eaten dinner.
6. The Denial
The Baddie (Alex Mytton, Mario Falcone – you know the type) will deny anything happened, then admit something happened, then in the next episode confess that oh yes, they actually did sext 25 women or get involved in a teeny-tiny orgy round their ex's best mate's house.
7. The Drink Throw
A structured-reality classic, first practised by the master of the throw (Millie Mackintosh, obvs) and wheeled out since by Gemma Collins (of course), Danielle Armstrong, Lucy Mecklenburgh and, actually, pretty much everyone who's ever picked up a glass of wine on TOWIE.
TOWIE is back on ITVBe on Sunday, March 5 at 10pm. Made In Chelsea returns to E4 later this month.
You Might Also Like