In the event you are a Jersey Shore fan who recently got hooked on Downton Abbey and now requires more English accents in your television programming, there is a show for you. Hailed as a "guilty pleasure" by both Hugh Dancy and his wife Claire Danes, English reality show The Only Way Is Essex is now entering its fourth season in the UK, with the first three available on Hulu here in the U.S.
Essex, or TOWIE as the Brits call it, is most often compared to The Hills because the cast is full of clueless, wealthy twentysomethings who have sex with each other and a lot of the drama is created through blank stares. But between the vajazzling that takes place in the first episode and the character who chooses to go by the name Joey Essex and has coined the term "reem" to designate things as good, it's safe to say that TOWIE goes where Lauren Conrad dare not tread.
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Other highlights include a character expressing a sincere wish to look like Justin Timberlake in Alpha Dog -- meaning lean and tatted up -- an inhuman amount of fake tan and the deepest purple V-neck ever seen on a male. But the show does have a dark side.
Much like the controversy over the use of the words "guido" and "guidette" that plagued Jersey Shore, pale-skinned, real-life residents of Essex have similarly complained about the show's effect on their home's reputation. Cast members have admitted to situations being staged, though unscripted, and the [SPOILER] short-term engagement between Mark and Lauren was rumored to be fake, à la Heidi and Spencer.
In spite of any self-serving celebrity marriages, TOWIE somehow managed to win a BAFTA in 2011. It was the YouTube Audience Award, but it did defeat Downton Abbey and Sherlock in the category. Sorry, Benedict Cumberbatch, but the only way is Essex.