The ultimate holiday turned into a f*cking nightmare”. This is the brazen tagline forming the start of every episode of MTV’s Ex on the Beach, which has just finished its second season. A show so stacked with drama, swearing, fighting and sex that it is bordering on self-parody, it is the ultimate guilty pleasure; the show everyone pretends not to watch, but secretly shouts at their flatmates about how wrong Rogan is for Jess, or how much of a bitch Melissa is to Connor.
The premise is beautifully simple: place four single buffed up boys and four single bikini-clad girls in a house in paradise and watch sparks fly. The genius part is that each week a new character is added – but not just any new character, no, one of the housemates’ exes. Cue a predictable but devastatingly watchable pattern of the new ex coming into the house, finding out what his or her old beau has been doing – or more accurately, who they have been doing, losing their shit and then jumping into bed with someone. Then the housemates argue before agreeing to be friends for “the good of the villa”.
The series finale was no different, with almost all of the now 17-strong cohort falling out with each other, and most of them jumping into bed together. In the words of Rizzle Kicks, our generation just wants “to watch people fight and have sex”.
Ex on the Beach does seem to be a Frankensteinesque monster of the scripted reality shows that are so central to modern TV, with cutaway interviews, surprise activities, hyperbolic voiceovers and characters you can’t help but care for. Two of these characters in this series are reality TV royalty: Geordie Shore’s Gaz and Charlotte. The two of them actually come out of the series relatively unscathed, more adjacent to the drama than part of it. Perhaps this maturity comes with their experience on MTV’s flagship docusoap. More likely, they benefit from the comparison with their Beach ‘co-stars’. This gives you some indication of the calibre of the stars of the show.
Yet it makes for gripping TV and whets the appetite for the imminent return of reality juggernauts Made in Chelsea and the aforementioned Geordies.