Spencer, Vogue and Baby Too: Jocular but winning formula
Review: The couple are clearly committed to a long-term relationship with reality TV
Spencer Matthews (L), Vogue Williams and their baby, Theodore
If Love Island king and queen Jack and Dani’s spin-off reality show has proved anything (other than the fact that discussions about pens and the sale of pens aren’t really that interesting) it’s that subjecting your relationship to on-screen scrutiny can be a risky business.
Watching the twosome bicker and banter throughout their summer in the villa, they offered a relatable antidote to the sexed-up schemers who populated the show. Now that the glow has worn off, their day-to-day cheap PR grind of public appearances and flogging questionable clothes with their pearly whites set to rictus grins, all feels a bit grim and deflating. Like Big Brother contestants before them, this new life as jobbing “celebrities” is no surprise to them. They are keenly aware of what is expected on this dreary conveyor belt of nightclub events and interviews on Loose Women, leaving the show free from entertainment, without any sense of naive wonderment. It might as well be a training video for those embarking on a career as a modern celebrity.
What should be a breezy, knockabout show documenting their lives post-Love Island is utterly banal and incredibly false. The natural humour and down-to-earth attitudes that attracted audiences has been replaced by carefully constructed caricatures. And with rumours swirling about the authenticity of their relationship, their acting skills have been put under severe strain. The ugly truth seeps out through vacant stares and hollow laughs. They should leave it to the professionals, Spencer Matthews and Vogue Williams, whose new reality show (cleverly entitled : Spencer, Vogue and Baby Too) documents the birth of their first child, Theodore.
By rights, a show starring ex-Made in Chelsea super-toff Matthews and politically misinformed model Williams should be a shallow, irritating display of affluence and privilege. But, ridiculous purchases and fancy cars aside, the E4 series is strangely charming and sweet. Even though Matthews still insists on acting like he’s part of some laddish radio zoo crew, he has become a master at the art of amplifying his personality to an entertainingly cartoonish level. Constantly performing – whether at Williams’s hospital bedside or at an antenatal check-up, he speaks directly to the camera in a confessional style, part Ferris Bueller, part David Brent, giving the series an inclusive, jocular tone. Williams is witty and likeable in interview segments, showing that when she sticks to what she knows (herself) it’s a winning formula. As a couple, they appear warm and genuine, bouncing off each other in a relaxed comedic way with Williams cutting cocksure Matthews down to size by commenting on his sexual prowess (“quick and efficient”) and doing impressions of his marble-mouthed friends.
Though their affection for each other is evident throughout, it’s thankfully free from the sugary sentimentality that Matthews’s Made in Chelsea colleague Binky Felstead’s pregnancy show suffered from. The profundity of parenthood is not overstated. The focus instead is not on how the couple cope, but on how normal this process is, which is a welcome change from the wearisome philosophical turn the idea of parenting has taken in the past while.
Even though the couple’s new lives as parents are presented as relatively ordinary there’s still the necessary inclusion of scenes to remind us of how the other half live – as when Williams appears in a pair of leopard-print shorts, lithe as ever mere weeks after giving birth, her shiny Bardot-esque tresses swinging over her shoulders, sighing about Matthews letting the baby relieve himself on their expensive duvet cover. This is the height of their parenting problems, making it clear that this is not your average Channel 4 documentary about young, first-time parents. No-one looks bedraggled, or frazzled, confused or murderous. In fact there is no negativity expressed at all. Everything is lost in an Instagram haze, a show of heavily curated perfection that is as performative as Matthews’s antics.
Jack and Dani were a summer fling, a smash-and-grab get-rich-quick scheme, but with their new show and charismatic on-screen partnership, it’s clear that Spencer and Vogue are ready to embark on a committed long-term relationship with reality television.