Charlie Brooker continues his deliciously satirical campaign against our most prized possession – the idiot box – in the fourth episode of How TV Ruined Your Life, with tonight’s episode shining the spot light upon love. Yes, TV has ruined your love life proclaims Brooker. It doesn’t sound that implausible when we think about it..
Falling nicely upon Valentine’s week, Brooker brutally tears apart our skewed view of romance and ideas of marriage, referring to the process as “tricking another human being into spending your life-span with you”. HTVRYL focuses upon the gulf between television and reality, so from the outset he places the blame upon our television sets for creating this ideology we all so fervently believe in, of finding a loved one and marrying them. Issues of overly beautiful people dotting our screens and raising our expectations to unobtainable levels are covered and while not the most original argument, when laced with Brooker’s biting witticisms it becomes a hilarious affair, further improved by amusing TV archive footage.
Like a dementedly angry circus conductor, Brooker has attempted to orchestrate the demise of our adoration for the television and while the past episodes have been funny yet lacking any real basis of an argument, this week’s theme makes for an easy target. Why do we all find ourselves in a pattern of new loves followed by broken relationships, always striving to find the next partner who will hopefully be more attractive than the last? Brooker’s theory is that we are impressionable human bags who stare into the swirling vortex of our television sets soaking up all the images we are fed and assuming that real life can mirror these passionately dramatic relationships, when in reality it can’t.
As well as the sometimes shocking archive footage used, How TV Ruined Your Life is also broken up by skits. Which – although funny in parts – do sometimes go on for too long (a problem for each episode thus far) and at times it feels like the added length of these pieces is to simply bulk out the run time because there isn’t enough material to fill the advertless half an hour slot. The best bits are the moments which see Charlie sat on his sofa, whining and/or poking fun at the ridiculousness of some of the drivel that is flashed up on our screens. These moments hark back to the atmosphere of his previous work in the superior Screen Wipe, but they do make us feel oddly welcome in the bitter, cynicism-fuelled world of the one and only, Charlie Brooker or as we like to call him… He-Who-Must-Be-Named.