The Shire: a thin line between love and hate

shireThe number one trending topic in Australia last night was #TheShire. The conversation on Twitter and Facebook continues this morning. It’s on most home pages, radio and indeed the real world. And the sentiment is undoubtedly negative. People are outraged, repulsed and furious about a range of issues: the show, the depiction of Sutherland Shire, the provenance of the people featured (to say they “star” in it might be going too far), what constitutes “dramality” anyway.

Which I would say makes the first night of the show an unqualified success.

The Shire Facebook Vernessa and Sophie

According to an analysis of the conversation by We Are Social Australia, there were 33,000 tweets, made up of 18,530 Tweets and 14,556 Retweets (data from Radian 6).

That’s thought to be a television first.

A preliminary assessment of the content of the tweets found that 93% of the comments were negative. The breakdown is as follows:

  • 36.2% Worst Show Ever
  • 16.9% Embarrassing
  • 17.8% Stupid/Fake
  • 22.1% Misc. Negative
  • 7.0% Misc. Neutral. Semi-Positive
And the conversation on Facebook was similar, categorised as follows:
  • 60% Generic ‘worst show ever’
  • 10% Cast related – stupid, fake people, fake lips, fake boobs
  • 20% Embarrassing representation of Australia
The breakdown of Tweets by city (from Trendsmap):

20427 – 40% : Sydney
9965 – 19% : Melbourne
6000 – 12% : Brisbane
2029 – 4% : Adelaide
1965 – 4% : Perth
1239 – 2% : Canberra
263 – 1% : Newcastle

I watched about half of the show, until I could stand it no more. Frankly, I thought it was awful. But what was most awful was that despite the  mumbling incoherence of the cast, I had a sneaking desire to keep watching. It’s the same ghoulish impulse that makes us turn and peer into accident scenes, or sometimes experience a moment of guilty glee at hearing of the minor misfortunes of others.

Ten’s summary of the show positioned it as follows:
“Set against the backdrop of the Southern Sydney region that commands the loyalty of its residents like no other, TEN’s brand new ‘dramality show’ The Shire is the latest daring addition to its schedule … The Shire isn’t another contrived piece of TV faux-fact; it’s true unscripted Shire life-through-a-lens.”
It’s implicit in that statement that the show was designed to court controversy. And Ten’s social media outreach continues to cleverly fan the flames:

The Shire Network TenThe Shire

Taking an already controversial show onto the news clearly implies that Ten knows exactly what it’s doing. It is creating a community of outrage around this content, which will keep viewers coming back for more.

Unprecedented numbers of people are sharing content from the Shire’s Facebook page – at time of writing not only had 1800 people commented on a photo of Vernesa and Sophie, 536 had liked it, and most telling, it had been shared almost 150 times.

These are engagement levels most brands on Facebook would fill their faces with collagen to achieve.

It’s a spike into the vein feeding viewers concentrated Schadenfreude, and if there’s one thing that you can guarantee in social media, it’s that haters gonna hate. Memes are being created; comedians are adding it to their repertoires.

To view the show as a disaster because people loathed the characters is to ignore that fact that the show wasn’t created to offer Australia new role models, or as a tourism vehicle for Sutherland Shire.

It was created to get people talking, get them righteously indignant, to get them engaged: to get them to watch the show.

If you didn’t see it this week, the oft-cited current cultural trend “FOMO”, fear of missing out, will get you tuning in next week.

And I’ll be very surprised if hordes of people don’t tune in next week to find out what they missed.

Cathie McGinn
A sample of the conversation on Storify


Haters gonna hate: the social media reaction to The Shire

Channel Ten’s new "dramality" show The Shire generated a massive response on Twitter and Facebook

Storified by Tim Burrowes · Mon, Jul 16 2012 18:09:20

Showing this show overseas is really how we stop the boats #theshireJosh Taylor
Thinking of everyone in The (actual) Shire. Our thoughts and prayers are with you. Tomorrow is a brand new day. #theShirePETER HELLIAR
WARNING: if you see tweets offering a videoclip of #TheShire DO NOT CLICK THE LINK. It is a videoclip of #TheShire.Travis Brown
#theshire is great. Chris Lilley is a genius.Seamus McAlary
#TheGC is just as worse as #TheShire
If The Hills and Jersey Shore had a baby TV show….it would be called #theshire.Jen Cash
Fill in the blanks: Instead of having the watch #TheShire I would rather have done _____ _#almostanythingelse!FritzBox
fuck the bitches on #TheShire have to be the most fake people on the planet! One of the boys are kinda cuteMattie Corey
Lots of negativity about #TheShire! Did anyone enjoy it??Jess Hunichen
Interesting reaction to #theshire from public/press. Format closer to #towie than #geordieshore but are the characters captivating enough?Charlie Leahy
LOVED #theShire, especially Sophie and Vernessa. Every single word out of there artificially bloated mouths was gold. #bottomrungoffoodchainSean Craig Murphy
Did anyone really have to watch #theshire to know that it was gonna be craptacular?Richie Davies
The Shire makes us look like 24/7 bikini wearing bimbo sluts -.- #TheShireJessie Paynhoralik Stylinson
#TheShire "a train wreck that crashed in to a bus on top of a jumbo that fell out of the sky"trina ward
not sure if sugar daddy… or disturbing father daughter relationship #theshire Mackrill
The louis vuitton skank reminds me of jayce. #theshireMitchell James Kevin Little-Nadal
@Jessica_Yates Is #theshire an improvement on the Kardashians? Is this possible?Skybirdmax
Woohoo Bogan Australia! #TheShire #embarrassinglyexcitedaboutitAli Asghar
Great #theshiretv review by @michaelidato, he picks the #Towie pedigree, it’s not Jersey Shore ppl! #ratingsThang Ngo
RATINGS FAIL: The Shire was beaten by ABC’s Australian Story 913,000 to 942,000 #ratings #theshiretvAaron Lucas
I know #TheShireTV wasn’t aimed at me, and there’s lots of flaws, but my goodness it’s fun…
Last nights documentary of the shire was an accurate portrayal. #TheShire #goodthingsaboutthesutherlandshire #theshiretvAndrew
Hate it or love it. But fuck everyone is talking about it today! #TheShireTVSamuel Parrott
#TheShireTV what a disgraceful & humiliating take on the Shire. I grew up there & am proud to say I’m nothing like those characters. Yuck!Miss Rose
What can I say about #theshiretv apart from, I won’t be watching it again? Absolute crap, fake & not reflective of the REAL Shire in any wayStephen Brann
That was the most entertaining episode of anything ever. I hate it but I love it. #TheShireTVKrys De Luca
#TheShireTV is the #1 trending topic in Australia. Love it or hate it, Channel 10’s work here is done…Benjamin Steele
emotionally damaged. seriously. reminded me of a few airport workers I know. #theshireTrent Evans
Had my IQ raped by #theshiretv now I’m gonna test #thelarabingle show because it can’t be any worse…right?!Rebeka Rilakkuma
I totally understand why my Twitter was clogged with tweets about this show. I really get it #TheShireTVKrys De Luca
Lol loves it #theshiretv♔ matteo ♔
#TheShireTV is probably one of the stupidest shows i have ever seen. i hate those girls that look fake. what happened to natural beauty?paigee.southh


  1. Bitter and Twisted
    17 Jul 12
    12:25 pm

  2. based on those sentiments I think Channel Ten are on a winner.

  3. Nicky Bryson
    17 Jul 12
    12:59 pm

  4. I hated/loved it and will tune in next week and the week after that. My attention span is pretty short, though, so I can’t make any promises after that.

  5. Lisa
    17 Jul 12
    1:03 pm

  6. This is the same fire that started whe TOWIE was aired in the UK, I sit back and see if the tides will turn.

    Two years after TOWIE first aired, tourism to Essex has gone up by 300%. I wonder if the Shire can do that for Southern Sydney?

  7. Tom T
    17 Jul 12
    1:04 pm

  8. It seems pretty obvious what Channel 10 are intially trying to do – polarising opinion, creating commentary and outrage. But where to next. Surely for long term viewing you have to actually like some of the characters?

  9. Stuart
    17 Jul 12
    1:07 pm

  10. If this engagement continues over the next few weeks, then not only has Ten created a monster, but you the viewers are perpetuating it. And sadly, if engagement does continue at this level, then the real idiots are those watching and engaging, not the show or those on the show.

    I weep for our society where The Hills, Being Lara Bingle and The Shire draw high audiences and high social engagement.

  11. Mel
    17 Jul 12
    1:11 pm

  12. Absolutely loved the show. I thought the casting was spot on and actually better than The Hills or Essex.

    The show was always going to polarize – but I definitely will be going back

  13. Clare
    17 Jul 12
    1:14 pm

  14. Yep it did exactly what it was meant to do. Rated well and engaged an enraged viewers. This exact senario played out in the UK and the US.

  15. Surry Hills
    17 Jul 12
    1:15 pm

  16. lucky for me i dont’ suffer from FOMO…good luck to channel 10, but this is not a show that i will ever bother with…

  17. just awful
    17 Jul 12
    1:15 pm

  18. James Warburton, is this the best Ten can do…..seriously?

    You have to be kidding mate.

  19. Rodd
    17 Jul 12
    1:15 pm

  20. According to Vernesa and Sophie’s own Facebook page, the girls will be answering all questions on Channel Ten News today at 5pm.

  21. JacTation
    17 Jul 12
    1:15 pm

  22. I thought it was hilarious and will be watching it again.

    Good on 10 for trying something new the networks are so boring and predictable

  23. Anonymous
    17 Jul 12
    1:23 pm

  24. Vernessa and Sophie-I smell a spinoff……………seriously-they are hilarious and they are not even trying to be Bwahhhhhhhhhhhhhhh

  25. Chris
    17 Jul 12
    1:27 pm

  26. It would be nice to see this kind of investment and network support going into the kind of creative projects that Australian writers and directors are actually genuinely capable of…

    I won’t bother getting into the ridiculous situation of every single new Australian show being another shitty incarnation of some poorly written crime/cop/hospital drama, because that’s an old story, and we are not on the topic of “scripted stories” anyway are we?… Or are we?… The Production value of The Shire was out of control, and from the dumfounded faces on the cast, you could actually picture the producers standing behind the camera yelling out to the cast “Now act a bit awkward! Make sure he knows you like him! Talk more about the botox! Look at him in the eyes now!”…

    It’s just another example of the fact that the idiots running the Australian TV Networks will throw money at shit, and be more happy with a 90% negative conversation, than they will be to look at a great new idea, or take a risk with something that might be a ground breaking new Australian TV Show… We Australians are capable of writing and producing quality entertainment the likes of Mad Men, Breaking Bad, Entourage, Mighty Boosh, The Sopranos, The Office, The Extras, Flight of the Conchords… it’s just that no muppet at a network would have ever given them a go on Australian TV… Why do you think all our talented creators and performers fuck off to America?

  27. Jem Reis
    17 Jul 12
    1:32 pm

  28. Love to hate it. Great work from ten, yet concerned about social degeneration and effects on youth etc. (I’m getting old!)

  29. India
    17 Jul 12
    1:33 pm

  30. I thought it was fun – young, dumb and fun. Exactly what I thought it was going to be.

  31. RatsRepus
    17 Jul 12
    1:34 pm

  32. They did an interesting experiment in the states after five passes of Car Accidents people stopped looking. I don’t think the shire has five passes. I approached the wreck that is The Shire I took a detour to an Amazing Race!

  33. Alison_F
    17 Jul 12
    1:43 pm

  34. Well… I expected pure crap and that’s exactly what I got! Loved it!!

  35. BJD
    17 Jul 12
    1:48 pm

  36. I don’t understand all the outrage. We all knew what to expect and the show lived up to its genre (designed for jaw-dropping viewing with a bit of audience outrage). If you tuned in expecting anything different…then fool you. If you wanted something else, as people have said, Australian Story was on the ABC.

  37. Chris Berkeley
    17 Jul 12
    1:48 pm

  38. I’d say the reason ABC’s Australian Story beat out The Shite was because a lot of people wanted to see Warney (who did the intro) talk sensibly on camera for once.

  39. Marcus Speechley
    17 Jul 12
    1:54 pm

  40. I don’t understand how people that work in the media can be so subjective when looking at a program like this. It never professed to be deep or intellectual television but yet so many people are complaining that it’s trash. How is this trash different to the other trash that is produced and shown all over the world. One man’s trash is another man’s treasure, and the show has an audience who will watch.

    How about we look at it objectively and congratulate the producers on its actual production merits and for gaining an audience that it did? Look at the attention that it’s created. When has a show on Australian television received so much attention by every single media outlet?!

  41. Nick Peters
    17 Jul 12
    1:54 pm

  42. I’m dubious about FOMO – I think people use that as an excuse because revealing the real reasons they watch these shows – schadenfreude, sneering at others – would portray them in a negative light. Much easier to pretend it’s for a more sociable reason.

  43. Daniel
    17 Jul 12
    2:01 pm


  45. Nick Peters
    17 Jul 12
    2:23 pm

  46. Come on Marcus, the media likes nothing better than talking about itself. So putting that aside, what exactly are the “actual production merits” of this show?

  47. Frankly
    17 Jul 12
    2:54 pm

  48. Umm, the hashtag for the show was #theshiretv

  49. Cathie McGinn
    17 Jul 12
    2:57 pm

  50. Hi Frankly,

    You’re right in saying the ‘official’ hashtag was #theshiretv, but a larger number of people used #Theshire.



  51. Tiki Godzilla
    17 Jul 12
    2:57 pm

  52. This is such a “Mumbrella” piece. Oh, the show lit Social Media up so it is therefore a success! Comments on Twitter and facebook do not equate to advertising revenue and brand traction in this case.
    Is it possible that social media was aflame because people watched it, hated it, vented about it and will never watch it again? Highly likely.
    A strange world we live in indeed where an organisation would court this kind of attention. Is it the first instance where a t.v network has deliberately tried to make a terrible show to court attention?
    Facts are that it didnt rate that well despite all the hype in the world. It will rate worse next week and the week after that God knows because the carachters are shit and the stories are bland and people hate it.

  53. Frankly
    17 Jul 12
    2:59 pm

  54. why not provide analysis of both?

  55. Cathie McGinn
    17 Jul 12
    3:10 pm

  56. @Frankly, life is short and deadlines are tight.
    We used an aggregate. But here’s a breakdown:
    27521 : #theshire
    9947 : #theshiretv
    480 : #theshite

    (bear in mind these may have been used within the same tweet)
    Data from Trendsmap.



  57. Surin
    17 Jul 12
    3:11 pm

  58. Tiki , perhaps the best point made so far. Its commercial TV, its been made to rate and ratings = revenue. Regardless of talkability ,Social media phenomenon etc etc its going to drop in ratings and its not going to help TEN fix their current diabolical situation. See SMI data!!

  59. Adam
    17 Jul 12
    3:22 pm

  60. Can someone please tell me how the ‘success’ of a tv show is now measured? If this rubbish is deemed successful somehow purely by the number of posts on social networks, even if 90% of them are negative, then following that logic a 1 hour show of people being executed by various means could very well become the most successful tv show Australia has ever (not) seen?

  61. TV Weak
    17 Jul 12
    4:12 pm

  62. The Shire serves as further proof that Australia is a good few years behind cultural trends overseas. Jersey Shore was first aired in the US in 2009 and The Only Way is Essex was first aired in the UK in 2010. Just as The Shire gets started, Jersey Shore is planning for season six while TOWIE is about to start screening season six. I can’t wait for the Aussie TV geniuses to come up with “Pawn Stars – Gold Coast”.

  63. foraggio
    17 Jul 12
    4:30 pm

  64. The saddest thing about all this is the gullibility of Australian television audiences. Is it any wonder that programs made here are so bad? People wonder why we’re downloading Breaking Bad, Dexter, The Newsroom and other quality shows from overseas. It’s pathetic that an idea like this can even be commissioned, let alone make it to air. And the more we label this type of programming “an unequivocal success”, the more we stifle creativity and ideas that could actually enrich us rather than enrage us. Those responsible for putting this on television are no less vacuous than the character within. Mark this as the day Australian television really fell behind the rest of the world … and I didn’t even watch the programme.

  65. Goodone
    17 Jul 12
    4:31 pm

  66. c’mon guys, yes hype around the show is great, but it was so goddamn boring. And poorly produced. No advertiser is going to go anywhere near it, and people will forget about it in two weeks and it will fade away into oblivion…

  67. Craig
    17 Jul 12
    5:44 pm

  68. First Sylvania Waters and now The Shire. It is clear there is a real hatred of southern Sydney on the part of TV executives.

    Notably they never make shows about the Northern Beaches.

  69. Sun Journalist
    17 Jul 12
    6:23 pm

  70. Surely the headline to this article should have been – The Shire, a thin line between love and rate.

    So close, mUmbrella, so close.

  71. Meanie
    17 Jul 12
    6:29 pm

  72. The new Big Brover BRO – excellent trashy trash !!!

  73. kia
    17 Jul 12
    6:45 pm

  74. I don’t think it’s a success at all. Rated under 1 million, for one thing. I’m in all three key demos, as are the vast majority of my Facebook friends, and all but one that actually tuned in last night has said they won’t be watching next week. Sometimes, negative feedback really *is* negative. I personally found it boring. No outrage, no fascination… just boredom, and I turned off after 10 minutes.

    The idea that being number one on twitter meaning the show is a hit is just wrong. The revamped YTT did the same thing, overwhelmingly negative feedback just like with The Shire, and it limped away with it’s tail between it’s legs halfway through the season.

  75. surin
    17 Jul 12
    6:54 pm

  76. Shire’s, Shores, Hills, Essex now Valleys!

    There not going away!!

  77. surin
    17 Jul 12
    6:56 pm

  78. surin
    17 Jul 12
    6:57 pm

  79. insert valleys….

  80. Peter A
    17 Jul 12
    7:12 pm

  81. I knew it. I knew it! This wasn’t the real Shire. It was western suburbs by the sea. This was also confirmed by ACA.

  82. David
    17 Jul 12
    9:25 pm

  83. I hope Warburton is happy with himself.

    There’s a social responsibility issue here and this is sadly missed with the majority of commentary.

    Forget the originality for a second, this is socially bad TV (or anything for that matter).

    And these girls are someone’s daughters. Worse still, someone’s their mother and father. So sad and I hope they’re proud.

  84. WTF
    18 Jul 12
    10:55 am

  85. Shire-t

  86. Peter A
    18 Jul 12
    11:19 am

  87. WTF – No, it’s Shite.