When it arrived in March last year, Channel 4’s Gogglebox sounded outrageously cheap, cynical and exploitative, even for the station that brought us My Daughter the Teenage Nudist and Date my Porn Star.
In fact, this weekly compendium of a dozen homes across the country watching TV and talking about it turned out to be funny, fascinating, inspiring and heart-warming (as well as a really good way to keep up with what’s on telly).
Having already spawned US and Chinese versions, it returns this week in a new prime-time slot of Friday 9pm – and with a pair of geeky students added.
Here are five reasons why you have to join in.
1 | It's hate-watching without shame
In an age of multi-channel, multi-TV households, Gogglebox represents the return of the water-cooler conversation. Twitter commentary of live TV has shown that it’s not just fibre-rich HBO we need, but TV that provides fodder for competitive banter and allows us to release tension.
Gogglebox is as much fun as watching monkeys flinging their excrement at the zoo, only in this zoo you actually get to join in.
2 | The shit-flinger general
No one flings excrement like Gogglebox mainstay Stephen, a living David Walliams character who’s in danger of giving gay hairdressers a bad reputation.
On X Factor contestant Sam Bailey: “You know why she’s still in it? All the convicts are voting for her.”
On David Cameron: “Did he just say ‘chillaxing’? Chillaxing? What a knob.”
On Nicole Scherzinger: “She’s put too much bloody baby oil on, in’t she? She looks like someone’s just come over her. Look – she’s all jizzy.”
3 | It's a whole new reality
Remember when we used to think reality TV was exciting and that we might actually learn something from observing those in front of the camera? Well, Gogglebox recaptures that by understanding the salient point that people are at their most unguarded when watching TV.
This “eureka” discovery ensures plenty of good old-fashioned social observation, revealing truths such as all couples become comedy double-acts, no one else thinks you’re as funny as you do and every family spends 50 per cent of its time shouting.
4 | The dialogue's better than Alan Bennett
5 | It makes you feel better about the world
Gogglebox is on Channel 4, Friday, 9pm
This article first appeared in Esquire Weekly, our new iPad-only edition. Containing 100 per cent new and original content, it’s published every Thursday on the Apple Newsstand.