Thursday 27 October 2016

Television: The Ice Queen cometh

The Royals, E!
*Camden Chaos, RTE Two

Published 11/04/2015 | 02:30

Elizabeth Hurley plays the Queen on the E! Channel’s snarky new series 'The Royals'
Elizabeth Hurley plays the Queen on the E! Channel’s snarky new series 'The Royals'
Camden Chaos on RTE2
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One of the most irritating phrases known to man is surely the odious refrain that something 'is so bad, it's good.'

That's simply not true. Good is good, and bad is bad and when you enjoy something on the grounds that it is unutterably shite, then you know your critical faculties have abandoned you.

There has been a lot of talk about E!'s new drama, The Royals, and how it's so bad it's good. Well, it features Liz Hurley as the Queen, so it certainly has the 'bad' part of that equation covered but a strange thing happened to me when I was watching it - the creeping horror that actually I was kinda sorta enjoying it because there are some deeply, deeply funny moments here.

And for some strange reason they all seem to come from two minor Royal sisters who are most definitely not based on Princesses Eugenie and Beatrice.

A sort of Buckingham Palace version of 'The Fat Slags' from Viz, they're all farts and fanny jokes and speak in that equine braying that we have come to expect from junior nobles with too much money and too little genetic diversity in their bloodline.

Hurley is hardly stretching herself as an icy, bitchy clothes horse, but taken as a smarter than expected satire on the Royals and their views on the little people (such as the quip about the working class 'with their football jerseys and false emotions... God you can almost smell them from here'), it actually is rewardingly snarky.

Let's put it this way, any anti-monarchist Republicans who tune in won't be disappointed.

We've a strange of habit of trying to pretend the things we have aren't really ours. For example, I remember the excitement which greeted the opening of a Chinese food emporium on Abbey Street a few years ago.

It was so good, parped the hipsters (although back in those simpler times, they were more commonly known as 'twats'), that it was like being in a little slice of New York's Chinatown.

Of course, it was nothing of the sort. There were no clusters of cooked ducks cooling outside the shop doors. There were no live fish splashing around in buckets, scaring passers-by.

It was, instead, a breath of fresh air for foodies who fancied buying and cooking things they had never seen before. But that wasn't enough for our emerging hipster elite, who tend to be the type of people who insist on referring to all of Brooklyn as Williamsburg and like to call New York 'the Apple'.

Of course, while they like to think of New York as their spiritual home, they actually owe more to the infamously hipsterfied Shoreditch in London.

In fact, I wonder what half the people who appeared on RTE 2's latest episode of Reality Bites, called Camden Chaos, and their talk of the 'Camden Quarter' would make of the prescient Nathan Barley. In that remarkably astute sitcom, Barley was a hopelessly deluded media wannabe who was prone to fatuous outbursts of undeserved grandiosity while informing his equally idiotic friends that they should: "Keep it livid. Keep it dense, yeah?"

The pretentious ghost of Barley loomed large over this strangely celebratory/sneery docco about the nightlife and day trippers in the Camden Street area, particularly in the shape of an 'experimental' comedy troupe who seemed to think that any comedian who wants to make people laugh is a bourgeois sell-out. As one of them said, without any discernible trace of irony, he wanted to: "Be as non-conventional as possible... It's about keeping it niche."

Keeping it niche is the new keeping it dense, I suppose.

He then went on to describe his ideal gig: "Just a small, select, elite audience, so the people who make it here really think they deserve it." And yes, I can also imagine the people who turn up wondering what they had done to deserve it, but not in the way our avant garde non-joker hopes.

As he messed with the definition of what a comedian is, he was certainly successful in one aspect - he was far from the funniest person to appear.

That honour would probably go to David, who proudly boasts of being a cousin of Amy Winehouse but, more intriguingly, is the self-proclaimed 'bad boy of yoga.'

In fairness, I wouldn't imagine there's a lot of competition for that particular title. Is that like being the enfant terrible of dressage? The mad bastard of the meditation world? The hell raiser of holistic medicine?

Anywho, he was quick to point out that his form of yoga is "very sexual" and that was before he started handing out shots of tequila to his female pupils. Strangely, there was little mention of the anti-social violence that has blighted the area in recent years, particular the death of journalist Eugene Moloney, who died after being felled by a coward's punch while he was walking home in June 2012.

It wasn't that sort of programme, I suppose, but between the tequila-slinging yogi, the comedian who seems to think that making people laugh is like, totally passe, or the chap who defended beards on the basis that they make men "handsome and rugged", it was clear that we have now reached Peak Idiot.

But the most startling sentence of the whole programme came over the closing credits when narrator Dermot Whelan warned that the hipster scene would soon move on somewhere else and, he added: "The smart money is on Terenure."

Not on my watch it won't.

Irish Independent

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