TOWIE verdict: Mark Wright became A Man in episode that was truly a work of art. Yes, really

November 12th, 2011

the only way is Essex: Lauren Goodger and Mark Wright (Pic: ITV)

It’s been a patchy third series, but last night’s season finale episode of the only way is Essex was special – and one of the telly highlights of the year.

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Yes, it really, really was.

TOWIE went beyond its comfort zone, weaving in and out of normal motifs and beyond the usual bottom line considerations of authenticity.

Pretentious, non? well get on board – because this ep was a WORK OF ART.

The episode began predictably enough. there was a quick stilting recap by Sam of her bawling scrap with Lauren at Chloe’s wedding-themed birthday party, as sounding board Billie made her best blank-eyed efforts to look as if she was capable of simultaneously listening and sympathising.

Joey Essex’s daily battle with sentience continued with him – understandably – confusing Guy Fawkes and Jesus.

Harry, having taken his first steps into a proper relationship with Kurt, was beginning to realise through monosyllabing it out with Gemma that maybe his new chap’s dancing sex faces indicated a level of experience that Becks-lite couldn’t handle.

A rat-dog peed on a rug in a set up where Maria Fowl-attitude brought the star power.

And Mark and James ‘Arg’ Argent stripped off once again for a bromantic dalliance on the sunbeds, unsurprisingly ending with Arg looking like a smacked, blushing gammon joint.

Arg: Tanned like spam

But among the joshing of “burger nips” and speculation about how long it’d take for Arg’s flab to cool down, there was a different air about Mark. an added sensation that something was not quite right, beyond his usual serious face™ he pulls out to justify to his numerous women why his genitals go wandering.

Of course, we all knew he was on his way to the I’m a Celeb jungle. But what we couldn’t know is that, once the strains of “BARABARA STREISAND” (come on, we all sing along – right? right?) from that DanceStar Party computer game sponsorship ad had faded, that Mark Wright would become a Man.

The clues were there that TOWIE was raising its game and, frankly, getting a wee bit Shakespearean in scope.

Cut to Gemma, now with the weeniest of muscleheads Dino and Georgio. one of them, deciding after weeks of tepid flirtation that it was time to make a play for the unlucky-in-love Ms. Collins, upped his verbal game to the unsubtlest of come ons between ‘friends’. so far, so Essex.

Are you a human stilt-walker? Good news! You’re Gemma’s type!

But with one of the twins clambering onto the other’s shoulders, covered in a long coat to pull out the old cartoon trick of appearing taller, we were taken into proper theatrical territory. It was about to get epic.

Arg and Joey, the two fools of TOWIE’s set pieces, were brought together on their own for the first time in a scene which arty academies in France will hold up as a masterpiece of clowning, probably. the ICA must look to program a workshop these two pre-eminent physical comedians right now. Something like that, anyway.

Managing to contain his windy-arm-waggly-wrist jerk for the entire scene, Joey – permanently trapped in his childhood, dressed in shorts meant for PE – was sartorial sage for Arg, continually wracked with insecurities about his appearance.

Why has it taken so long for Joey and Arg to share the same airspace?

Expanding on the clothes skittery from the twins, the two swapped clothes, leaving Arg’s bulk ready to pop out of Joey’s skintight wardrobe and the Reemaster fitting his entire body in one leg of James’ jeans.

Realising the daftness of their ritual – almost transcending the notion that in fashion-obsessed Essex everyone must be the same – the boys then smashed the bodily taboos that had been holding Arg back, together.

Gloriously, they lit each others farts.

Or, rather, they attempted to. so stuck in their arrested development that they might not have even lived their FHM days when they were younger, the de-trousered Arg and Joey struggled to direct their bum guff accurately enough across the flame.

But they tried. They tried!

And they tried to assist one another too, comrades in fiery flatulence and united in trumping.

Poor Joey didn’t have the words to express his disappointment.

“F***ing… f***ing,” he stuttered with frustration. But he had grown as a Man.

Notice that there was not mention of “reem” in this episode? Notice that he moved on from Sam, finally, with the inexpicable but right-for-the-moment saliva swap with Jess?

Arg, for his part, later in the episode received the reassurance from Lydia he had always craved but was too busy trying to give to her to understand he needed.

Lyds, now calmer than the hormonal banshee she once was, told her man it didn’t matter if his ears stuck out, that there was a gap in his teeth, that he was a big man. He was her Big Man.

Sorted with Lydia, Arg has a little weep over Mark’s departure

Although the revolting pairing of Lucy and Mario has been rushed through with the emotional journey of one-night stand extended through the weekend when nobody bothers to wash their privates, her climactic public apology ratcheted the tension up several gears.

Like a dream where you fantasise as public as humiliation as possible for a faux pas you made at a disco when you were nine, Lucy pushed herself to set things right, the Essex way.

The DJ turned his iTunes off from shuffle. That silence cued all heads to turn her way, standing above in the elaborate booth and bathed in light like a star that she isn’t.

And then she muttered some words that didn’t really make sense, with lots of umming and arrring – but it was all in the effort! she laid herself bare – just a lying cheater, standing in front of an odious misogynist, asking him to love her.

Taking into account Lucy and Mario’s complete lack of personality, this scene fizzed with drama, even if the rest of the cast looked mildly annoyed that they weren’t getting the bulk of the close ups while this was going on.

Mario, comfortable with manipulating pliant mannequins like Lucy, seemed to approve. They might reconcile. But, crucial to the future of TOWIE, he doesn’t have the flashes of charm that Mark has to take his crown.

Back to Mark. after three series of messy bed-hopping, Mark seemed to have stumbled upon a new sense of clarity, perfectly timed for his exit from the show in the closing scenes of the last episode of the season.

Explaining earlier to his mum and terrifying dad (making only his second appearance, looking like an angry, tenderised pillow with eyebrows – why hasn’t his dad been in the show more? Mark Sr hasn’t been an absent dad in real real life, even though that may go some way to explaining Wrighty’s constant need to feed off other women’s affection) that he was broadening his horizons beyond Essex, Mark deliberately avoiding mentioning hanging out with Willie Carson and Jessica Jane-Clement in Australia as an option.

As well as being the other side of the world, Mark’s jaunt brought about the end of his world and an opportunity to tie up loose ends.

So, in the calmest altercation we’ve ever witnessed them having, Mark and Lauren had ‘the talk’, but for proper this time.

Lauren and Mark: real life, innit?

No emphasis on being together for 10 years from her, no glossing over keeping her hanging and seeing other girls from him. It was a grown up talk, ending with an unfakeablely tender hug.

And it was real. the really, really engaging aspect of TOWIE is, despite the set ups and the cameras and the falling out of nightclubs gossip site tittle tattle, this is these people’s lives.

They don’t seem to have any other means of income and – with all due respect – they aren’t actors. the emotions they express cannot be faked with their levels of acting ability, it is real.

Despite being fake.

It’s as real as fake can get.

And in a very real way, that’s realer than anything else there is in telly, or entertainment, or celebritydom.

Sam and Mark: Not having any of it

And yes, Sam blew off Mark. Not in a vicious, demonstrative manner – she , like Lauren, knew that the stage of life he is at is not the stage of life she is at. They may be right for each other, but not right now.

Mark knew this, he knew. He knew then he really did have to go.

As the incidental and non-realistic music heightened his real but non-real departure, as a teary Lauren, a largely indifferent Sam and a devastated Arg looked on longingly, Mark saw Joey tickle his sister’s tonsils. There was the possibility of a new Man in town, anointed by snogging the old Man in town’s sister.

So, Mark, the turd which all the flies feed off, became a Man.

Crying tears as real as those ones at his engagement party where he stood next to his fiancé and told of how he did it with ‘a top model in Florida’, Mark left Essex behind to head off to the jungle – to discover himself and possibly chew on a kangaroo’s penis.

See you, Mark. see you… on telly on Sunday night

Where can TOWIE go now?

Ominously, for them, Kirk and Nanny Pat weren’t even given a look in in this episode. and the tensions between Mark and his harem, Arg and Lyds, Sam and Joey, all of them have been quelled as they variously settle down or mooch off, nosing around for fresh meat to hump.

Is this the End?

Amy Childs hasn’t been missed in this series, but that’s partially because they needed to move on from Jordan-wannabe, stereotype-made-flesh, vajazzle-peddling presence.

These are real people, after all.

And if this is it for TOWIE, they did at least keep it real.

Now, let’s see if the much-improved Made in Chelsea can carry the reality soap torch.

Follow Rob Leigh on Twitter at @robbie_dazzler.

Click here for ‘TOWIE Sam Faiers and Billie Faiers attack: how will the only way is Essex react to this unwanted dose of reality?’

Click here for ‘Sam and Billie Faiers opinion: TOWIE can’t handle reality of vicious attack on the sisters – pictures’

Click here for ‘TOWIE opinion: Lauren Goodger needs to walk away from show going by Joey Essex confusion’

TOWIE verdict: Mark Wright became A Man in episode that was truly a work of art. Yes, really

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