Trend Document Research: The Only Way Is Essex (Julia)

Is Essex really the only way?

Many of our panellists are unimpressed with new ITV2 reality drama The Only Way is Essex, which burst on to our screens earlier this month complete with orange tans, fake boobs and sparkly vagazzles (yes, you read that right). While the show clearly takes much glee in playing up to the ‘Essex stereotype’, it would appear that its portrayal of the type hasn’t gone down well with everyone.

Of the nearly-750 panellists we asked on the issue, some thought that the typical stereotype of an Essex person was true to life.

  • One Essex dweller said she could ‘confirm’ these stereotypes exist and that ‘typical’ Essex residents are ‘keen to live up to that image’.
  • Another person not only thought the Essex reputation was correct but that people ‘only have themselves to blame for portraying this image’.

A few of our panellists thought the stereotypical ‘Essex’ person could be found anywhere in Britain.

  • One person pointed out that the stereotype ‘is applicable to all areas of deprivation throughout the UK’
  • Another said ‘I agree that the Essex stereotype applies to other areas of the county but Essex does it best’.
  • A couple of respondents ranted that ‘unfortunately there are an ever increasing amount of people who are preoccupied by false everything (hair, nails, boobs etc)’ and ‘show an appalling ignorance about current affairs’ but are able to ‘tell you everything’ about theThe X Factor and Victoria Beckham. One said these people even made them ‘embarrassed to be English’.

The show itself did not get many positive responses from those we asked.

  • A lot of our panellists blasted the show for being ‘another piece of rubbishy reality television’.

The The Only Way is Essex follows in the pattern of US shows such as The Hills, following the intertwined lives of young, supposedly ‘typical’ individuals of the area.

Narrated by former Essex girl Denise Van Outen, it follows six Essex guys and gals through the romantic entanglements and quest for celebrity that characterise their daily lives.

The show has been strongly criticised for the stereotypes it portrays, and despite achieving viewing figures of nearly one million viewers on its first airing, it seems the show leaves a lot of be desired among those we asked, one of whom emphatically noted, ‘I wouldn’t watch it if you put a gun to my head’.

The Only Way is Essex is on Wednesdays and Sundays on ITV2 at 10pm.

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Filed under Big Idea, Core Values Campaign, Julia, Secondary Research, Trends Research

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