A hotbed of culture and London’s Eastend history, in recent years Dalston has become an overspill for neighbouring Shoreditch. Which explains why it’s the location of the new augmented reality show by notoriously hip lifestyle magazine, VICE.
It follow the lives of five friends all living in a dingy flat on their quest to live the scene dream through their blogs and Macbooks (not at all like the contributors to HOWL. Can’t afford a Macbook for starters). This first episode introduces the lives of the Dalston Superstars, who want to “give something back to the community” and “be part of something big”: Stefan, the sensitive rich kid who wants to experience a life of squalor just like everybody else; Maeve, the pretty girl next door who inspires creativity in others (though we’re actually not told whether this too, is beautiful); Vee, the kooky one who’s different and doesn’t care; Sam, the laidback man about town who never actually leaves town; and Anna, his relatively short-suffering girlfriend who left the Californian sunshine to while her days watching Sam getting high and taking pictures against the grey backdrop of the Dalston skies.
So what do people in Dalston do all day apart from taking pictures of themselves in their underwear with a Homer Simpson mask over their head and calling it creative? Styling, photography, fashion, modelling. In short, they freelance, which is also code for “unemployed” making them exactly like the rest of 18-24 year olds in Britain at the moment. We follow the gang as they attend Vee’s empty club nights that she’s been planning for literally, like, months. You don’t even know how much work goes in to it. However, the classic tale of a friend’s betrayal is played out before our eyes as Sam stays in gaming instead and is labelled as a traitor for doing so. Though who can blame him? You need to assess your priorities in outgoing expenses in these difficult times.
Ultimately, what Dalston has that Essex and Chelsea thankfully don’t is too many levels of pretension. Alright, I know that this isn’t REAL life. It’s “created for our entertainment”. But at least they pretend that it’s all real. The humour in other comes from actions that reveal the human side of these docusoap stars – the words they use between each other, the little nuances and trip-ups and flashes of brilliance that we all have day to day and that we can poke fun at. With Dalston, there’s a hint of insincerity that turns the fun-poking finger round on the audience for even taking 10 minutes out of their procrastination time to watch them. Although, maybe that’s me not getting it. Either way, confusion isn’t the aim of the whole thing, is it? Or is it?
All I’m hoping is for VICE to mix it up with some lies and cheating halfway through the series, and within weeks Vee and Maeve will be adorning the pages of Mail Online while Stefan will be starring in the lead role in a panto near you. Mark my swag.