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The Shire's stereotypes are false

Sophie (left) and Vernesa from TV series The Shire.
Sophie (left) and Vernesa from TV series The Shire. Nigel Wright / Channel 10

IT was not surprising that young Australians were offended by the controversial television program, The Shire, a Sunshine Coast expert said yesterday.

"We're nothing like those idiots," one angry Coast viewer in his 20s said.

"People are going to think Australians are like that, and we're not."

He did not want to be named.

The reaction to the show in Sydney, where it is set, was angry too.

But that may have been what The Shire's producers and Channel 10 were hoping for.

The Shire has been touted as following the lives of Australians in their early 20s who "live, work or play" in Cronulla, on the city's southern beaches.

Cronulla is part of the Sutherland Shire.

"The problem is," University of the Sunshine Coast media lecturer Anna Potter said, "that the characters are cruel, stupid and, well, awful.

"The Shire is deliberately provocative. They even have a term for it, Freak TV."

The Twittersphere was seething with high-profile critics yesterday, many associated with Cronulla.

They included US NBA basketballer Andrew Bogut, rugby league players Brett Morris and Eric Grothe junior, rugby forward Laurie Weeks, singer Anthony Callea, TV host Ruby Rose and cyclist Chris Sutton.

Coast psychologist Rachael Sharwin said the reaction was expected.

"Many people in their early to mid-20s are egocentric, narcissistic," she said.

"It's a perfectly normal part of development.

"They would not like the stereotype The Shire has given them.

"But let's be fair, no one would.

"Older people are not happy being thought of as doddery and slow.

"Stereotypes are not accurate and not fair."

Ms Potter said she did not believe The Shire would necessarily put young Australians in an unfavourable light if it was shown overseas.

However she said when she was growing up in England she thought the family portrayed in the controversial 1990s ABC reality show Sylvania Waters were "typical" Australians.

They were not.

 

ALL ABOUT THE SHIRE

The real Shire:

  • Is the colloquial term for the Sutherland Shire, on Sydney's southern beaches.
  • Was the scene of Australia Day race riots in 2005.
  • Contains Sylvania, the setting of another controversial TV reality show in 1992, Sylvania Waters.

The Shire TV show:

  • Few of its 14 or so cast members are from Cronulla.
  • Its production company, Shine, is owned by News Ltd, which has also produced MasterChef and The Voice.
  • Its first show this week attracted only 941,000 viewers, beaten in the timeslot by the ABC's Australian Story (942,000).

Topics:  channel 10 reality tv



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