TV Review: Gogglebox, The Lockdown Love Affair

Channel 4’s Gogglebox first aired in 2013, the show that features recurring British couples, families, and friends sitting in their living rooms while watching and commenting on TV. As a viewer you’re watching others on television watch television, a concept that may sound both ridiculous and unentertaining, but the show has proven to be a huge hit and continued to captivate the hearts of the nation.

On the 26th February 2021 at 9pm the show returned to kick off its 17th Series and our Friday nights are back in business hearing our favourite telly watchers. Although the show has been long adored and viewed by many, it’s to be appreciated now more than ever. With England amid its third Lockdown, shows like this are an essential watch, and a huge metaphorical hug when we’re unable to see those we miss dearly. The love for the show is evident across the country, reaching its biggest ever overnight volume of 4.5 million viewers in November and second in December with 4.6 million.

Read even more on why we love Gogglebox here.

Gogglebox provides a light relief during these testing times amongst the Coronavirus rollercoaster that can become overwhelming. Throughout the pandemic blues, it offers a distraction and enables you to switch off from it all, even just for a bit. It’s a comfort blanket to hold onto and an easy watch for the end of the week, observing their reactions and more often than not finding yourself reacting in a similar way. This kind of television helps us ride the wave of emotions that we’re currently and inevitably experiencing.

Each household has its own attributes and their different personalities make it all the more engaging and interesting to watch. Whether it be quirky king and queen of etiquette Giles and Mary, Leeds lasses Ellie and Izzi, sarcastic Blackpool siblings Pete and Sophie, hilarious Hull besties Jenny and Lee, or the witty and intelligent family The Siddiquis, they all bring their own unique qualities. It’s the variety in commentary and opinion that keeps viewers both engaged and amused, and their diversity is an important reminder that what unites us outweighs superficial differences.

Alongside a source of entertainment over Lockdown, watching others in their households is particularly consoling., not to mention educational as well as entertaining. Although the majority of the show separates itself from the pandemic, it was particularly comedic watching the pairings react to Boris Johnson’s speech and trying to make sense of his rules and regulations. Simply because their reactions were so relatable and we were all in our households doing the same thing. It’s the shared reactions that bring us closer, despite the fact we cannot physically be together. Pete and Sophie questioned what qualified as “essential work” and the Malone’s family playfully made comparisons between Johnson’s speech and Churchill’s famous “we will fight them on the beaches” declamation. Despite the subject matter being a very serious one, their commentary seemed to take the harsh edge off and help the indigestible become manageable. Channel 4’s Chief Executive Alex Mahon announced, “we’re here to inform the audience with trusted news and current affairs and just as importantly, lift them up and make them feel connected with the rest of the world when isolated at home,” and with Gogglebox they’re doing just that.

It can also be lonely spending so much of our time within the same four walls and in a strange way, seeing others doing the same helps us feel infinitely less so, something that’s pertinent during this isolating time. Those on the show become your new best mates and sitting in a pub with your friends has become sitting in your front room with those on the telly. It’s as if you’re all sat together in one room gossiping, giggling and gawping at a shared screen. It makes you laugh until your belly hurts, tear up a little, and feel as if we’ve just had a good old chinwag with our nearest and dearest.

The show continues to comfort viewers with the content it shares. It’s honest and relatable, you may be experiencing something that you feel you’re alone in, but when shared with the Gogglebox families, it reminds you that we’re in this together and it’s a relief knowing we’re not alone. Mary and Giles had an emotional moment when Mary became evidently upset shared a story about a video she was sent in which: “a man was walking around the empty streets of Belfast, he said there’s nobody around but it’s not a sign of despair or desolation, there could be no greater expression of love than people staying at home to protect each other.” As the pair of them teared up, the nation did to. The emotion they were experiencing was relatable for viewers and they beautifully shifted the view on the silent streets of Belfast as an act of necessary protection. It was also particularly emotional watching Jenny wipe away a tear while thanking the NHS and Sophie sobbing as Boris Johnson announced another lockdown.

Source: Channel 4

Even with it’s moving moments, it’s the continuous laughter and occasional sarcasm that holds the show together. One of which was Ellie and Izzi’s comedic attempt at trying to make masks out of sanitary towels, “stick one wing on your nose and the other under your chin, apparently.” Or more recently, watching them all chuckle at Prince Harry rapping the opening sequence of Prince of Bel-Air, or the joy of Pete announcing his engagement. Sharing raw moments with those on screen is cathartic and comforting and seeing others experiencing the same peaks and troughs help and guide us through.

The show is perfectly silly and genius in equal measure. Sharing candid and relatable moments that offer reassurance and solace, providing an intimacy with relatable human interactions that so many of us are currently craving. Displaying humanity at its truest, there’s no greater source of connection and comfort throughout lockdown than this.

Gogglebox is now avaiable on Channel 4 on Fridays, or you can catch up on All 4. Or you can stream seasons 9-13 on Netflix.

Words by Danielle Saunders

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