It takes exactly one hour — and 25 stops — to travel from the edges of London’s eastern urban sprawl in Loughton, Essex, to the heart of affluent Chelsea to the south west of the capital’s centre on the Central and District lines. What connects these two neighbourhoods in the vast reaches of Greater London, however, is more than a painfully long tube ride: they have both become locations associated with the genre of regional scripted reality drama (RSRD) that has enjoyed growing popularity in the UK since 2010 in the wake of the success and import of MTV’s Los Angeles based The Hills (2006–2010). Loughton, alongside its neighbouring areas of Buckhurst Hill and Brentwood, serves as the setting for ITV2’s The Only Way Is Essex (TOWIE), which premiered in October 2010. The Royal Borough of Kensington and Chelsea in turn, alongside further central London locations, is home to E4’s Made inChelsea (MiC), first seen on UK screens in May 2011 on the heels of TOWIE’s original success. Both shows, in line with their Spiritus rector, MTV’s The Real World and The Hills — and in the tradition of much reality television — are part of a hybrid genre category that draws alongside documentary traditions on television drama and in particular serial teen and high-school drama, as well as soap operas and telenovelas. The shows feature a cast that largely compromises twentysomethings with the occasional addition of younger and older members of their families, such as parents, grandparents, siblings or cousins.
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- Television Fandom in the Age of Narrowcasting: The Politics of Proximity in Regional Scripted Reality Dramas The Only Way Is Essex and Made in Chelsea
- Palgrave Macmillan UK