Following the success of ITV’s TOWIE, the big bosses at E4 decided to get in on the action; No stranger to the reality show they knew they had to bring something similar enough to steal the audience but different enough to generate higher interest, thus Made In Chelsea was born.
Far from the common tanned trollops of Essex, MIC is set, as the title suggests, in Chelsea, West London’s wealthy hot spot. However, don’t let the beautiful locations and obvious piles of money spent per episode fool you: MIC showcases a cast just as vacuous and entirely unbelievable as their fellows in Essex; and they’re just as enjoyable to watch, if not more so in my opinion.
Made In Chelsea strutted its way onto our screens May 2011, opening with a vapid soliloquy by main cast member Caggie Dunlop (whose constant nose flaring pouts are enough to drive a nun to homicide), the last line of which is the only worth quoting, “In Chelsea the truth is more fabulous than fiction. This is our life.”
The truth, however, is that Made In Chelsea perfectly blends together both the fabulous and fictitious to bring us laugh out loud moments, gasps of exasperation and yes, I hate to say it, tear jerking moments you only get from relating to the situations played out before you.
The fiction comes in the form of staged encounters, phone calls (are we really to believe they go to bed with a camera sat perving over them on the same night their sweetheart just happened to call?), notwithstanding the long and lingering shots of important, and undeniably posed, facial expressions after or during dramatic conversations. All these elements highlight the fakeness of the show, the fiction of it all, however, these moments of wooden ‘acting’ mixed with genuine emotion and real life drama are part of what we as viewers find endearing.
The first series of Chelsea introduced a varied cast of rich and loveable (or hateable) characters for us to pick over. The main focus of the show was the train wreck romance, if it could be called such, of Caggie Dunlop and Spencer Matthews. Whilst he spent the better part of eight episodes asking his best friend, the ever-charming Hugo, whether or not he should dump his girlfriend and making moves tantamount to cheating; Caggie similarly wasted our viewing time pouting at best friend Millie (who holds a naivety that makes her more likeable than Miss Dunlop, even when she is drunkenly throwing herself at the male cast members); flitting between her logical annoyance at Spencer for putting her in a bad position and her loving (and likely lusty) feelings towards him. The result of which were a slightly annoying cold war of emotions, a constant ‘will they/won’t they?’ which left the audience exasperated but happy to be so.
Though they were undeniably the focus, there was no lack of drama from the supporting cast. Hugo and Millie enter a love triangle themselves with doe eyed, lengthy foreheaded, and entirely bland student Rosie Fortescue. After making a play for Hugo, Millie is seemingly rejected for Rosie. However, Rosie, who as far as I can ascertain has nothing of interest to say during the entirety of the series, rejects his advances, throwing him back into the arms of Millie, who manages to capture his heart for real (via his groin of course) by the end of the series.
Enter the next group of Chelsea residents with love spiralling out of control; I am of course referring to the ever fabulous Ollie Locke, whose amazing facial expressions kept me entertained week by week, and his ex-girlfriend Gabriella Ellis, who was tragically dumped in episode three so Ollie could explore his sexuality. Always with them are the ever funny Binky Felstead; who genuinely stated that Charles Dickens wrote Winnie the Pooh in one of my favourite stupid moments of all time; and Cheska Hull (who without Binky and Ollie wouldn’t be worth the screen time).This fun loving foursome were much easier to relate to, and had some of the best Chelsea moments without really interacting much with the rest of the cast.
With even less screen time, and thank Christ for that, was Amber Atherton. Oh she of moonfaced arrogance seemed to be put on the show for one purpose – to annoy the hell out of the public. She spent all her screen time insulting anyone she felt like with a condescension not appropriate for someone as awful to look it, and seemingly to be around, as her.
One of the people who sadly had dealings with this goblin was the brilliant Francis Boulle. Saving the best ‘til last, Francis is the only Chelsea member we ever see working; in fact over the series it beggars belief that these people actually have jobs, since they seem to spend all their time in restaurants, bars or just hanging out on the street making staged phone calls to other cast members; he’s introduced to us as businessman, a young entrepreneur whose confidence in the workplace falls short in his private life. Francis bumbled through the first season losing girls to other cast members, including his apparent best friend Fredrik (as self absorbed as Amber with a portion of the looks to back it up) with a beautiful awkwardness that left me both cringing for and lusting after him.
Series one ended rather dramatically with Caggie jetting off to New York after finally sharing a kiss with Spencer, and Spence chasing her to the airport only to find he was too late. Not to mention Ollie dating a guy, Millie and Hugo finally a real item, and Francis finally getting a girl. So it was with bated breath we waited for series two to start, will Spencer and Caggie finally be together? Will Ollie realise he’s a raving homosexual? The short answer to both those questions is no.
Four episodes into series two and drama is already rife. Millie and Hugo broke up in episode two, after revelations that Hugo cheated on Millie. The highlight of their relationship’s demise however, was the moment Millie confronted Hugo for lying to her about cheating, culminating in her throwing, a no doubt very expensive, drink in his face. Poor Mills then decided to pull a Caggie and run off to another country to ease her broken heart and spend her well . . . inherited money.
Ollie is now in a relationship with new cast member Chloe Green (of Topshop fame), seemingly forgetting his attraction to penis. Ollie and Chloe’s relationship has proved to be strained throughout the whole series due to the affiliation of best friends Binky and Cheska with ex Gabriella. Poor old Gabs has been trying play nice but it seems to be thrown back in her face, that is until her and Chloe have a confrontation which results in an unlikely friendship, leading to more arguments for the ever doomed coupling of Green and Locke.
Francis has come into his own this series, showing less of his business side and more of the man behind the power; he’s snagging ladies left, right and centre, the star of which is Natalia. Francis and Natalia met in episode two and he had no problem charming her with his awkward nature. By the current episode they’re on their second date and everything was looking promising until bitch-face Amber got involved. Sticking her moon where nobody wants it, she stirred the waters on Monday, making Francis out to be a player and promising to ‘tell all’ to Natalia on a lunch date.
Caggie made a shocking return right when Millie needed her most. However, she was caught by surprise by the seemingly budding relationship between Spencer and fresh meat Louise. Starting as a ‘friends with benefits’ situation, it’s become very clear that Louise wants more than Spencer’s stuff, she wants his heart too, but is unwilling to admit so given Spence’s feelings for Caggie. The ‘will they/won’t they?’ aspect is still alive but is more like an old woman quietly passing away then than woman screaming, bleeding out, that it was in the first series.
Spencer’s indifference towards the situation seems only to hold when he’s got someone to hold onto; however, in Monday’s episode he lost a chance at Caggie to Ollie Proudlock, an old boyfriend and new cast member. Not much can be said for Proudlock except that he has a stupid earring, a face I can’t quite decide upon and a thing for Cags.
Also lost to Spencer is Louise, to another newbie Jamie Laing. Jamie is definitely not good looking, and I imagine if I met him I’d hate him, but there is something about his misplaced confidence and boyish nature that makes him hard to hate; especially when he gets together with Hugo and Spencer – the three spending time ribbing each other is always good viewing.
I can’t leave this post without mentioning Mark Francis; splashed throughout both series one and two, I still haven’t decided whether I love or hate this unbelievably fabulous man. He’s mostly seen with his maid serving champagne to all new arrivals. He’s over the top in his hand gestures and speech, elegant in his suits, and sadly currently in cahoots with ol’ moon face. Even though I’m not sure I like him, I’m always interested in seeing more of him.
At the halfway point of this second series, I find myself more in love with the Chelsea cast than ever. With Millie promising to make a dramatic return, as well as the successful date between Jamie and Louise, and the possible breaking of Chloe and Ollie, next weeks episode is promising to be just as drama filled and gripping as the previous ones.