TV review: Orange boobs and a political underbelly

Snog, marry, avoid… Eli? Photograph: BBC
26 Mar 2013 @ 8.22 am
| Entertainment
Snog, marry, avoid… Eli? Photograph: BBC
Snog, marry, avoid… Eli? Photograph: BBC

lucy-bellerby-byline-photo-bwSome say it’s cruel, but for Lucy Bellerby BBC Three’s makeover show often discovers happiness lurking under all that foundation


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I’ve got my TV mojo back, and it’s come in the form of giant orange boobs and fake eyelashes. Snog, Marry, Avoid (BBC Three) divides audiences; you either love it or hate it, it is the Marmite of television. Expect that if it really was a foodstuff it would be a greasy kebab, and a girl would be eating it off the pavement, with mascara down her face and a broken shoe in her handbag.

First into the show’s POD (Personal Overhaul Device) is a Lady Gaga loving drama student (eugh) who dresses like Julia Roberts in Pretty Woman, if Vivian had been a drug addict living in Scarborough. She explains that Gaga thinks you should always be yourself and never try to impress others, before going out in a flesh coloured thong and bottom-skimming peroxide hair extensions.

I for one hate Gaga’s faux-female empowerment nonsense; she always witters on about how she dresses only for herself, or women, whilst writhing about with her hand down her rhinestoned pants. So I was glad to see this girl stripped of her push up bra and seven layers of foundation, and at her reveal she looked so lovely au-naturel that her dad promptly burst into tears.

Vicki is next in POD. She is basically Kat Slater’s little sister; a mountain of dyed black hair framed by swathes of leopard print. I have an overwhelming urge to put my hand through the TV and scrub her with my granddad’s famous own brand of soap, aka white spirit. Afterward she looks unrecognisable, and beautiful, and everyone asked wants to “marry” her.

The show does make fun of these girls, but they apply to go on and so enter the “make-under” willingly. They obviously use make-up to cover their insecurities, and so by stripping them bare the show is sometimes called cruel; but in fact they all seem to come out happier, more confident, and glowing.

Not Frasier Crane, but Tom Kane. Totally different. Photograph: Channel 4
Not Frasier Crane, but Tom Kane. Totally different. Photograph: Channel 4

Frasier Crane is probably my all-time favourite sitcom character; he is completely loveable, endearing and sweet, despite his fastidiousness (and his hatred of Eddie the dog). When I found out that Kelsey Grammer was not in fact cuddly and pompous but a rip-roaring Republican with a drink problem, my dreams were a little bit shattered. So imagine how I felt when I saw Frasier in his new role of mayor of Chicago, receiving a package containing an enemy’s ears then casually chucking them down the garbage disposal.

After playing one character for so long, it’s clear Grammer wanted a complete change. After the first 10 minutes of watching Boss (More4), you forget he was ever Dr Crane. Which is a compliment to his acting skill, but also because the character of Tom Kane spends his time red faced and bellowing, with his jowls wobbling as he attacks people in his office.

The show is enthusiastically jumping on the Breaking Bad bandwagon, with storylines about terminal illness and lashings of class A’s. If you’re looking for a bit of light relief from The Killing, Breaking Bad, The Wire et al, this is not the place to find it. There is crime, corruption, and the seedy underbelly of US politics. It’s fairly calculated middle-aged box set fodder, but in a good way. I just hope it doesn’t ruin Frasier for me. I’m off to watch the one where Niles and Daphne run away together; safe in the knowledge that I will find many jokes about getting caviar out of suede, and no severed ears.