Reality TV: The grimly fascinating plastic world of Katie Price
‘My Crazy Life’ has an air of finality, the faded glamour becoming ever more shabby
The show feels as exhausted and unhappy as Katie Price looks. Photograph: Pete Norton/Getty Images
There is something about Katie Price and her dramatic travails that is reminiscent of those harrowing women on the cover of That’s Life! or Take a Break magazine – full of depressing domestic horror. She is the celebrity face of misfortune, of the “I fell in love with my tapeworm” variety. After following the journeyman career path of the modern reality personality, hiring someone to ghost-write novels for her, entering Eurovision, presenting, column writing, or designing equestrian clothing, her second-act or dual occupation is now as a luridly tragic figure of almost Shakespearean proportions, surviving calamity after calamity. The past decade has seen Price deal with cheating accusations, divorces, drunken rows, cancer scares, implant traumas, legal murkiness and now her recent financial woes. She continues to keep the tabloids ticking over and to provide sensationalist fodder for her latest reality series, Katie Price – My Crazy Life.
The clue is in the title. There would be no show without the craziness, so Katie must continue to deliver it in bucketloads. The scent of desperation lingers everywhere throughout the series, as she is keenly aware she’s clinging on to a stardom that should have been fleeting but somehow has given her a peculiar kind of success. This is Price’s 14th reality series, having moved from the revealing documentaries unmasking the Jordan years by Richard Macer on Channel 4 to the golden age of Katie and Peter Andre’s marriage (a Heat magazine staple) on ITV 2 to this, her new home on TLC. She has inched further down the pecking order with every passing year. No longer the magnetic pull she once was for gossip-hungry viewers, she’s been replaced by the younger, more malevolent models of TOWIE and Geordie Shore that she helped birth. The show feels as exhausted and unhappy as Price looks. She appears worn down by the constant grind, the requirement of her Faustian pact to sustain this chaos at the expense of her own wellbeing.
This season sees her focus on her disintegrating marriage to her relatively silent partner, the utterly unremarkable Kieran Hayler. Engineering fights in their half-renovated house, she rounds on him constantly, trapping him into contradictions and then, when grimly accessing his phone by using his fingerprint while he was asleep, she discovers proof of unfaithfulness: texts and photos sent between her husband and another woman. This is no real shock to stoic Pricey, who treats the revelation with the resigned inevitability of a tired adult entertainer at a stag night. This attitude is oddly compelling. Her emotional toughness and hard-hearted blankness are the traits that define her, distinguishing the reality telly relic from her people-pleasing contemporaries.
This facade never fades. Whisking her older children, Princess and Junior, off to safari in South Africa is an opportunity for Price to show her softer side but ends up with a bleak exchange between mother and daughter about physical appearances. As they drive through the park, bright-eyed Princess innocently inquires if Katie resembled her as a child, only for Pricey, ever the realist, to snap back: “Well, my face is plastic now so I can’t remember.”
Kieran B&Qs it
The trip is, of course, interrupted by a distressing event with the group suffering from a car hijacking leaving Katie’s friend/unofficial bodyguard Neil Tause badly beaten. Back at home we’re pushed further through the looking glass as the glamour model confronts her soon-to-be-ex-husband shouting that everything in their relationship is “all fake”, while later on he casually discusses his cheating in a talking-head segment as if he’s chatting about a planned trip to B&Q.
The overwhelming feeling of glumness and despondency dominates, with Hayler desperately circling the drain before his screentime is up and he’s forced to relocate to the mysterious land of Alex Reid and other casualties of entanglements with Katie.
My Crazy Life has an air of finality about it, the faded glamour becoming ever more shabby, the queasy intrusive nature of it resembling the anarchy of Kerry Katona’s last stab at reality success, the crass, unscrupulous MTV show Crazy in Love, which followed her disturbing mental breakdown and depression. Price will not devolve in the same way, as she thrives on control and will not allow herself to completely derail. But soon she will have to relinquish the reins of her reality television empire as weary, dwindling audiences will undoubtedly fail to tune in to see what Katie did next.