If you get a chance to watch the Extras Christmas Special, please do.
Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant have produced one of the most exquisite and searing critiques of our celebrity culture I have seen.
The beauty of this show is that it is largely bereft of laughs throughout, as the main character, Andy, quits his popular but low brow television show to seek “proper” fame and fortune as a serious actor. However, having burned his bridges with the industry, he is left adrift and forced to admit to his agent that he just wants anything to make him famous and get him “on the tele”.
He hits his lowest ebb while appearing on “celebrity” Big Brother, at one point accusing Big Brother of transgressing the trade practices act for not actually having any celebrities on the show, just has-beens, opportunists and media darlings.
Andy then delivers a scorching soliloquy, questioning his motivation to be famous and questioning how we let our media outlets force feed us non-stop, vaccuous coverage of the insipid, banal goings-on of the pretty and/or ugly types. He calls out the incestuous relationship between the “in crowd” and the media, who feed off each other and who we uncritically and lazilly follow in our numbed, escapist consumption habits. (I note that here in Adelaide, Australia, our local Murdoch paper, The Advertiser, has more-or-less become a supplement to the paper’s gossip section, covering z-grade “personalities” and “artists” as they titter from one meaningless opening or fashion parade to another – arrrggghhhh).
It is a masterpiece of small screen “comedy”.
Bravo Ricky, Stephen and the cast. You have all brought this viewer great pleasure and this latest offering is simply sublime. Thank you!