What Trash TV Can Teach us about UX


The semi-good looking people in the picture above are the cast of England’s “Jersey Shore” rip-off called “Geordie Shore”.  Geordie Shore is probably the trashiest television show I’ve ever seen, and I grew up in the hey-day of Jerry Springer!  It includes a plethora of scantily clad women (when clad at all), horny lads, booze, and about every possible fluid that can exit the body (literally I can’t think of one that hasn’t played a main role in this show).  It features loud music, fights, and and the lowest of low-brow conversations.  Nevertheless, I love the Geordie Shore and I watch it every week.  Some might say it’s like a train wreck you can’t turn away from, but I beg to differ.  Geordie Shore is the most low-brow television show I’ve ever watched, but I enjoy it because it shows me a side of pop culture I’d never normally see.

I’m far from the demographic for this show.  In fact, I can’t imagine being further.  I don’t live in Europe, let alone England.  I don’t understand lad culture in England, I don’t think the girls are good looking, I don’t find the guys so interesting or nice, and I wouldn’t be interested in spending an evening with any of them.  I’m pretty sure that this show strikes a chord with 16 year olds who want to party at the clubs, 20 year olds who have just started to party at clubs, and 30 year olds who remember what it was like to party at clubs.  I’m not a club goer.  I don’t drink alcohol (at all!), and I’m not the least bit interested in living vicariously though these people.

My girlfriend asks me constantly “What is it you like about this show?!”

Here’s a pseudo-NSFW preview for anyone interested in seeing just how trashy this show is:



I don’t want to try to defend this trash and say that it’s somehow an important show to cultural relevance.  This is a completely irrelevant show.  I also don’t want to try to make a high-brow argument out of low-brow entertainment, mainly because I’m neither a cultural critic nor interested in squeezing academia into nonsense.  Instead, I want to focus on something else entirely.

One of the most important things I ever learned about User Experience Design is that I will never be “the user”.  I suppose it’s possible.  I really love Schweppes Soda Water, for example, and I probably drink about eight liters of it a week.  Theoretically, if Schweppes wanted to redesign their website, maybe I would be their demographic and their model “user”….but for the most part, no matter what I work on, I’m not the user.

When it comes to Geordie Shore, I’m also not the user.  I’m not the demographic for this show whatsoever.  The truth is I have no idea why I like this show.  I do, however, have LOTS of ideas about how to make it better.  To me, the mark of a truly great UX designer is the ability to remove themselves from the equation and analyze something that is for someone else from a neutral position.  The Geordie Shore isn’t for me, but I watch anyway and I analyze everything that could be done better. I think all the time about mistakes the producers made, how to engage the cast more, how to film better, how to increase ratings, and so on.  I consider everything from the night-vision camera setup to the opening credits.  I’m constantly dissecting the show in my mind and considering what is going on behind the scenes.  Did the producers set this up?  Did that happen naturally?  Do they really not have smartphones?  No internet at all?  What happened after Charlotte knocked over the television and broke it in a drunken stupor?

I’ll continue to watch the Geordie Shore and the Jersey Shore too, and I don’t really know why, but I do hope that in some small way it helps to make me a better user experience designer.



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