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Series / The Only Way Is Essex

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"I half-expected someone to throw a drink in someone's face and then Bobby to strut in naked with a tea towel strapped around his bollocks."

If you ever wanted to know what could make the title for being the British version of Jersey Shore note  or The Hills, it might just be ITV's The Only Way Is Essex, set in the titular Essex. It follows the lives of young, attractive twenty-somethings living in Essex and their relationships with their friends and neighbours. Their families also make frequent cameos, making the show have a large cast of contestants.

It's a popular show in the UK among the younger generation, being a Fountain of Memes with questionable slang, fake tan, and characters splashing the cash a lot. Despite being a Reality TV show, it claims to have set up some of the events for entertainment purposes, but how far this happens is debatable.

The Only Way Is Essex provides examples of:

  • Anti-Role Model: Lucy considered her ex Mark to be this to Joey. So much so that when Joey chats Lucy up, she walks off as soon as she hears he wants to be just like Mark.
  • Batman Gambit: Used by Arg, and Joey, plus Amy Childs, Maria and Lydia at various points in the show.
  • Breakout Character:
    • Arg in series 1, so much so that he's upgraded to main cast in series 2. One of the most popular stars of the series' ten years, arguably the male face of TOWIE.
    • Definitely Joey Essex in series 2. He gets a whole episode revolving around his date with Sam.
    • Gemma Collins has become a legend in her own right since turning up in series 2.
    • Chloe Sims has the highest episode count and become an instantly recognisable face of the series.
    • Now, it's Jasmine Wallia.
  • Captain Obvious:
    • Joey Essex tells Sam he knew she wouldn't like him taking her to the tip on their first date. Also when asked who the prime minister is, Joey replies it's "that geezer..."
    • "Did you know England and Ireland are different countries?" asks Amy.
  • The Casanova: Mario was the original, but after his departure, several newcomers have taken up the handle.
  • Catchphrase: TOWIE has spawned many...
    • Gemma's saying "Shut up" when she cannot believe what people have told her.
    • Mark's constant use of "plum" or "plank."
    • "JAAAAMMEEESSSS!!" by both Lydia and her mum, Debbie, when annoyed with Arg.
    • Joey Essex in season 2 spawned "reem", before going on to call a pair of trainers "rarmus" in the next episode, before topping it off with "rarmus, reemus, reem, rarm" in the same scene.
      • "REEM TEAM!" at Gemma's pub quiz.
      • Even narrator Denise Van Outen gets in on it when the disclaimer at the start of an episode says the show contains "people looking reem".
  • Cerebus Syndrome: When Lucy Mecklenburgh appeared, the show instantly took on this tone.
  • The Chessmaster: Chloe Sims does this up to eleven to get what they want or need.
  • Christmas Special: The Only Way Is Essex-Mas.
  • Darker and Edgier: In recent times, it's taken on this tone, and although not quite Without a Trace or Law & Order: Special Victims Unit, it will get there eventually. Lucy and Mario started taking the show onto this path, and Jasmine Wallia continues it.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Denise Van Outen's disclaimer is full of this. Each episode manages to top itself on how much snarky insults it can include in a minute-long title card. Often parodied.
    Russell Kane: (as Denise) The people you see on it may look like humans, but some of their frontal-lobes have been given a "zoosh!" for your entertainment.
  • Doctor Whomage: In a What Could Have Been moment, the series wanted to have Peter Capaldi in-character as the Twelfth Doctor in 2015 (making it a Non-Serial Movie to ''Doctor Who but canon to this series), but it never got anywhere due to budget and planning reasons. It was meant to air in 2016, but didn't even get to negotiation with Peter Capaldi. As of 2019, they're trying again with Jodie Whitaker.
  • Epiphany Therapy: Far from falling into Discredited Trope territory on this show, sometimes Once an Episode.
  • Even Evil Has Standards: Lucy Mecklenburgh and Jasmine Walia have lampshaded this trope on occasion.
  • Food Slap: Common, with the men on the receiving ends.
  • Gambit Roulette: Amy Childs and Maria Fowler play this up to eleven on occasion.
  • Hidden Depths: Jasmine Walia has a fair few of them, but they are slowly coming into play on the show. Verges on Chekhov's Skill.
  • Insistent Terminology: A lot of the men in the later seasons insisted that they were "gentlemen", despite spending most of their time cheating on their girlfriends and Slut-Shaming.
  • Internet Counterattack: Discussed in British media. But it screws up calling them trolls, as the proper term is cyber-abusers.
  • Knight of Cerebus: Not one, but two, unusual for Reality TV — Lucy Mecklenburgh and more recently, Jasmine Walia. Can make the show very uncomfortable viewing at times. Both of them have made the show Darker and Edgier.
  • Local Hangout: The Sugar Hut, in Brentwood; a sort of Cafe Nervosa in Essex with cocktails.
  • Lower-Deck Episode: One episode mainly starred Jessica Wright, with the main cast Demoted to Extra.
  • Medium Awareness: Jasmine Walia is quite aware that it is Reality TV and possibly scripted, and Word of God confirms this.
  • Mr Fan Service: particularly the likes of Lockie, Pete, the Clark brothers... all proving popular with the female cast.
  • Musical Episode: Arg is a successful Sinatra impersonator and has provided many musical moments. Jess' girl band and solo numbers. Gatsby has also filmed a music video during an episode.
  • Not in This for Your Revolution: Lydia Bright and Gemma Collins do this.
  • One-Steve Limit: Diags and Arg's names are James. There's a lot of Toms and a Tommy too.
  • Out of Focus:
    • Anyone who works for the city council, etc.
    • Jasmine Walia has had the least publicity out of any of them from the beginning, so an Invoked Trope (sort of).
  • Punch-Clock Villain: It's a bit of a stretch to call them full-on villains, but Manipulative Editing makes out that they're this way, due to the scripted nature of Reality TV.
  • Reality TV
  • Sidekick: Arg to Mark; Harry and Amy; Kirk and his dad, Mickey. Lockie and Pete, big time.
  • Tempting Fate: In The Only Way Is Essexmas, Arg says to Amy at the reveal of girl band LOLA's fourth member that he's tense because he has to keep looking over his shoulder in case Lydia shows up. Just as he says this, she does. Owed greatly to the 'set up' situations of the show where cast attend the same parties etc.
  • Will They or Won't They?: Mark and Lauren were the original, then a variety of couples went through this, such as Sam and Joey, Mario and Lucy, and Arg and Gemma. The latter couple still continues, whereas the rest ended as "they don't".