Wednesday, March 23, 2011

The depressing TV files: Lily Allen: From Riches to Rags

Somehow, beyond all logical explanation, I found myself watching Lily Allen: From Riches to Rags last night. I don't normally punish myself in this way but somehow it just happened.

Now I will say before I begin that I was never a fan of Lily Allen’s music. Her mockney tones – put on despite a privileged upbringing in the well to do Chelsea and Kensington area - and whiney lyrics, which had all the wit and maturity of a group of eight year old girls discussing gender politics in a treehouse with a “no boys allowed” sign on the door, alienated me from her songs, even though a few had at least a half decent tune.

Anyway, Ms ‘Knees-up-mother braaan’ Allen has thrown in the towel with the music trade and has decided to become a fashion retail owner, with her Lucy in Disguise brand. The idea is to loan out vintage dresses to shoppers unable to afford such designs. Seems like a good idea – in a kind of Jamie Oliver class/disadvantage campaign way – although there are several downsides to her plan. One of which is that despite the idea of helping underprivileged people try out vintage fashion, the team decides to hire out the dresses for extortionately high amounts, which it is pointed out people can pay to actually buy the clothes.

Then there is Lily herself. She doesn’t seem to care very much about this project or about anything as a matter of fact. She seems to have got into music by accident (probably helped by her father’s contacts) and made a go of that only to get bored and to do something else she’s vaguely interested in. The only downside is that once again this achieved in an industry with a heart-breakingly high entry level that less well off/poorly connected people couldn’t even get a look at. You do get the impression that Lily will tire of this too (if it even works) only to give up and do something else that vaguely interests her. Given the focus of the series, it looks like the next aim is to start a family. Lord only knows how long she will stick at that for.

The second problem with the Lucy in Disguise idea is that she’s given her hopeless party-girl sister Sarah the task of looking after the money. To give a little background on her sister, she is the epitome of the ‘poor little rich girl’ label who lives a completely hedonistic lifestyle. She doesn’t have a clue about business whatsoever and you get the impression that one day the money invested could disappear completely only to be replaced mysteriously by empty champagne bottles and spent cigarettes.

Thirdly, the company’s other employee is an airheaded lady who at some point held some vague position in the fashion/ PR industry. She is the worst of the threesome as she is actually playing a part in leading the clueless Allens away from sound business ideas, towards a romantic flight of fancy that will never get off the ground. Instead of setting up in a prime retail location, selling older but popular fashions, she seems to inhabit a small world of her own where fashion boutiques need to be “fashion destinations” away from the high street that attract attention from some mysterious fashion industry buzz (presumably spoken entirely in backhanded compliments). In short she’s suffering from delusions of grandeur, not helped by well-meaning friends, stuck in the same over-moneyed little fashion bubble she lives in, saying that her ideas are good.

In short with business acumen like this it’s no surprise the idiots left retail expert Mary Portas open-mouthed as they described their plans and showed her a possible location for the shop which happened to be an office.

Watching a trio of air headed women who are completely out of touch with reality and have been granted great privilege and access to a world people would literally sell their souls to work in just made for a frustrating and utterly depressing hour of TV and sums up a lot of what is wrong with the media and entertainment industries in general. The show felt very similar in premise to Joachim Phoenix’s recent film I’m Still Here, albeit made for TV, as you do wonder if Lily Allen is purposely trying to wind us all up with this venture.

The programme itself and the fact I was watching it at all made for a thoroughly disheartening evening.

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