Opinion

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 http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wzErgCZFEuwzelle.
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 http://pic.twitter.com/Fr3DqmPGReagan 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 http://bit.ly/PaFtnD, 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… http://molk.tv/OzQR7HSteveMolk
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 http://pic.twitter.com/pTGQzq9f♔ 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

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