Made In Chelsea Death Threats
May 15, 2012
By: Emily Ives-Keeler
At this time of year, Monday evenings signal an enormously welcome escape from essay writing and revision, as we slip into the dramatic, designer-clad, and ironically amusing world of Chelsea society. Unfortunately, reality stars Spencer Matthews and Louise Thompson have received death threats from viewers following their unpopular ‘hook-up’ in the sixth episode of the season. Most recently this has led to the announcement that the affair never happened at all, and was fabricated for entertainment purposes.
After receiving simultaneous declarations of ‘like’ from best friends Jamie Laing and Spencer Matthews, Louise made her decision in Jamie’s favour, but went back on her choice when on holiday with ex-boyfriend Spencer and other members of the cast in Dubai. The airing of the show this Monday was followed by comments from enraged fans, accusing Louise of ‘cheating’ and wishing the pair death in a ‘car crash’ on Twitter. Needless to say, this reaction is harsh, cruel and intensely over-dramatic; but also completely unfounded: the relationship between Jamie and Louise was based on one date, and Jamie’s confession to Binky that he was just becoming ‘ready for a girlfriend’ makes it clear that no such official status had been agreed between them.
This extreme reaction also betrays a potential naivety amongst viewers that are encouraged by the nature of reality television. Shows like Made in Chelsea, The Only Way is Essex and their American predecessors such as The Hills give the impression of being an unobtrusive window into the real lives of the cast. From the sofa it can be easy to forget the impact of the camera and the filter it imposes on the supposed ‘real life’ action. The cast members’ Twitter accounts are followed by thousands of Chelsea fans; and Channel 4 have introduced an interactive online follow-up show, Live in Chelsea, which this season allows viewers to have their questions answered directly by the cast. All of this serves to narrow the distance between real life and dramatised television, between actual human being and constructed character.
The latest episode was effectively shot and edited so that scenes of a cheerful, excited Jamie verbalising his growing feelings for Louise were viewed directly alongside her moments of weakness in the face of Spencer’s relentless advances. All this combined with a heart-breaking Agnes Obel track laid over the top deliberately creates simplified ‘goodie’ and ‘baddie’ characters that are not true to real life and are not intended to be treated as such. This is an unspoken agreement between the producers of reality television and the viewers, who enjoy the uncertainty of what is actually ‘real’ in what they view. The official denial of Louise and Spencer’s affair occasioned by these shocking Twitter threats, whether true or not, is a disillusioning and unnecessary verbalisation of this agreement; and proves that though we may have expectations of the producers of our television, our role as viewers can be just as important.