Come Dine With Me seems to be the kind of televisual equivalent of internet dating, or perhaps Facebook; a microcosm of the protocols of the social network, and a fascinating representation of both the freedoms and despair of neoliberalism. It is a window on our world with almost a hundred episodes a month; a world where the hallways are always too small, where everybody has a (flimsily disguised) sexy secret, and there are an unreasonable proportion of psychics; a world where everything is OK (but with disgusting taste in furniture) where you have to be entertaining and be entertained, and where anything remotely serious is peculiar and one feels predictably shocked that meat was once a cow. It also appears to be randomly selected, it represents what everybody is like out there. It is captivating TV that must be astonishingly cheap to make, and it's more subtle than the Truman Show.
If, for instance, I ask Julie what she thinks I might score on CDWM and she says '15' I am mortified. I mean I pride myself on being a good cook, not all the time maybe, but pretty good. When, mortified, I ask her why she would predict such a low score, what with our lovely furnishings and pictures and all, she says 'well you hate entertaining' which is true, because I see that as rather exhausting performance, something I do for a living, not something you take lightly, not something, weirdly, I would do for pleasure, since it brings with it huge anxiety.
Last night the posh girl with the boob job (she called them, rather brilliantly, bangers) burst in to tears as they reached the final night of their five night stint of round robin dinner parties (another reason Julie says I would score so low is that I would retire hurt after evening one- but so far I've only seen one contestant reduced to running off in to the long grass and getting pissed). She was moved because the exertion was too much, to be that relaxed was not relaxing at all. Unwittingly she did it, she had stumbled on some truth.