Australia is cashing in on the addictive trashfest that is "dramality" with The Shire. The buff, beautiful protagonists of Ten's new reality show won't be sharing a house a la Jersey Shore. But you can bet your bottom dollar there will be more drama than you can poke a fake nail at.
The show, which looks at the lives and loves of a group of young Australians from Sydney's Sutherland Shire, hasn't even started and it's already been shrouded in controversy. First, the shire's mayor, Carol Provan, vowed to build a "boom gate" to stop production on the outrageous series. Then, Ten and production company Shine bumped the show from the network's upcoming schedule after they were reportedly underwhelmed with the footage shot so far.
But last week, it was announced The Shire would premiere on Monday after three months of filming.
The cast includes singing teacher and waitress Tegan, 24; electrician Andy, 22; model Nikee, 20; direct sales assistant Gabrielle, 20; Snookiesque BFFs Sophie, 27 and Vernesa, 28, and 21-year-old aspiring rapper Rif Raf.
According to one of the show's stars, Mitch, a 23-year-old stonemason, while The Shire has been likened to Jersey Shore so far, it's set to be more along the lines of The Only Way is Essex.
"The first thing they said to me was, 'Jersey Shore, Geordie Shore, they've all been done. This is going to be the first ever done in Australia and it's sort of like The Only Way is Essex'," he says over the phone from the driveway of his Cronulla home. "They've got a lot of people from Essex working on it so it's sort of got a little bit of a taste of that.
"It was hard to earn everyone's trust back because they thought it was going to be like Jersey Shore, really trashy and give The Shire a bad name.
"But they want to show The Shire in a great light, it's a beautiful place — its beach culture, night clubs, it's got the national park."
Like TOWIE, the show will depict real people, saying unscripted lines in a controlled environment.
"Basically we tell the crew where we’re going to be, and what we're planning, and they will follow us," Kerry, another cast member, says.
"It's not scripted one dot; it's all our natural conversations. I can only be myself and that's all I'll ever be. I'm not playing anyone else, I'm just me.
"I'm an open book, I have nothing to hide and I'm really proud of who I am."
Kerry has been the manager at popular Cronulla hang out Beach Burrito for 18 months and was asked to be a part of the show after the producers dined at the restaurant where she works.
"The producers were here as customers and we just struck up a relationship and it snowballed from there," she says.
Meanwhile, Mitch's friend Josh asked him to audition in January.
When Josh failed to show up on time, the producers of the show auditioned Mitch on his own and he landed the part.
"I ended up getting in and Josh didn't even get a call back," he says.
"He makes a few appearances though, so he's happy."
But Mitch has quickly learnt that life as a reality TV star isn't always smooth sailing.
"A few of my mates didn't want to be on the show," he admits.
"I guess that all came from the bad publicity that sort of ruined the whole thing and put a bad taste in people's mouth.
"I hope people like it.
"It's just a normal reality show, people surfing, there's some great characters."
The Shire premieres on Monday at 8pm on TEN.