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YMMV / The Only Way Is Essex

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  • And You Thought It Would Fail: Before the show launched, the concept was pretty much universally derided as a pointless knockoff of a Channel 4 show called Seven Days. TOWIE massively defied expectations by becoming a hit while the C4 show is now barely remembered.
  • Broken Base:
    • Amongst citizens of Essex, who either find the show a celebration of where they live or an embarrassment.
    • According to audience figures, the series' first three seasons had the most viewers, with the first episode of season three being one of the most-watched episodes of the show's running time. It was also the last season that had the original cast before many began to leave the series.
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  • Discredited Trope: The "Essex Girl" stereotype is this now, if not Dead Horse Trope territory yet.note 
  • Ensemble Dark Horse:
    • Gemma Collins, a self-proclaimed diva, who became the only original member of the cast in 2017. Outside of the show, she has appeared on other reality shows (most famously, Celebrity Big Brother), not once dropping the diva attitude. In her own words, she earned her "diva card" the moment she reached her thirties.
    • Arg, mostly due to the romantic drama surrounding him and Gemma.
    • Mark Wright was handsome, likeable and all-around pleasant person. After leaving the show, he became a TV presenter, notably for Access Hollywood, and married Michelle Keegan, who was Tina on Coronation Street and former Sexiest Woman of the Year.
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    • Joey Essex because others cannot believe how ditzy he is, to the point where it becomes worrying.note 
    • Bobby is known for being Camp Gay to the point of Poe's Law and his unconventional methods of getting a tan.
    • Denise Van Outen. Although she was already known as an actress, her voiceover disclaimers at the beginning of every episode are full of Narm Charm with a healthy dose of snide, which is entertaining for hate-watchers or people watching as a Point-and-Laugh Show.
  • Fountain of Memes: Most of the slang terms featured later became common in other parts of the UK, particularly "vajazzle" due to how absurd it is to some, even though the word existed long before the show's inception.
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  • Magnificent Bitch/Manipulative Bitch/Bunny-Ears Lawyer: Lauren, Amy, and Maria all fit this trope well.
  • Moral Event Horizon: Mario, who was an all-around unpleasant womaniser, reached this when he cheated on Lucy and then slut-shamed her when she had a one-night stand when the cast went to Marbella (at this point, they had broken up). Considering how he had barely been nice to the girlfriends he'd had during the course of the show, people cheered when Lucy threw her cocktail in his face. Diags later revealed on Most Shocking Celebrity Momentsnote  that he put the clip on loop after it aired.
  • Never Live It Down:
    • A live version of an episode was aired one Christmas and the audience unanimously agreed that there was a reason why the pre-recorded and heavily-edited television show was successful. The person with the biggest brunt of the criticism was Arg, who was so nervous he could barely speak at times.
    • The episode that featured Arg and two of his friends attempting to find hook-ups at a choir had two: not only did they discover that the room was full of pensioners, but one of the three men did a loud fart.
  • Newer Than They Think: Many might be surprised to discover that the show didn't begin with the abbreviation "TOWIE".
  • The Red Stapler: Before TOWIE, reality TV was dying out in the UK, mostly due to the lack of audience interest and the economic crisis of the mid-2000s which strained all the channels, and most of the popular ones were either talent shows (Britain's Got Talent and The X Factor had their heydays here) or ending after a long run (Big Brother UK, which began c. 2000, ended in 2010). After TOWIE became popular, there was a new generation of viewers that were watching, enough to spawn Geordie Shore, Made in Chelsea and The Valleys, and other reality TV shows that became just as popular.

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