“Why’s she doing that in front of her granny?”

A FEW DAYS after Senator David Norris calls for a debate about standards in Irish life after watching an episode of the show Tallafornia, I decide it’s time to call my own.

After judicious deliberation on where best to hold the debate, I opt for my bed upstairs, with laptop, two Kit Kats and a pot of tea.

“I want you to watch Tallafornia with me,” I propose to my 16-year-old, when she comes home from school.

“What’s Tallafornia?” she says.

“It’s a reality show. Set in Dublin — four boys, three girls living in one house. Drinking. Partying. Sex.”

“Like Geordie Shore?”

“What’s Geordie Shore?”

“Same as Tallafornia by the sound of it, except it’s set in Newcastle.”

“When did you watch Geordie Shore?”

“When you and dad went out Friday night.”

I swallow my discomfiture. Now is not the time.

“So what did you think of Geordie Shore?” I ask.

“Gross but funny.”

I’m tempted to ask “what kind of funny?” Instead I mention Kit Kats, laptop and bed.

“Ok, she says, “I’ll watch it, but there’s no way I’m watching it with Dad, and why are you so keen for me to watch it anyway?”

I do not say “Mainly, love, because of my concerns surrounding this quote from Tallafornia housemate, Nikita: ‘Everything I done Irish girls do, the only difference between me and the other girls is there’s a camera on us.’”

Nikita is not a Moors-murderer, Myra Hindley type. The only crime she commits, with her false eyelashes and hair extensions covered in foundation and month-old glue, is against chic. In fact she may be the kind of girl who’s very kind to kittens. Nevertheless, she embodies many of the qualities that most parents spend their lives trying not to inculcate in their daughters, ie, she is presented as vacuous, hapless and undiscerningly libidinous as a bunny.

“I’m just curious to know what you think of it,” I say.

Upstairs, we watch Nikita perform a lap-dance for her housemate Phil, who doesn’t like her. Then we watch an episode in which sparkly sequins are affixed to her genitalia in a beauty salon. When her vajazzled pudendum, shining like a disco ball, is revealed to the cameras, I ask my daughter what she thinks so far.

“Gross but not funny,” she says. “But if you ask me questions all the way through it’s going to be annoying. I’ll tell you what I think at the end.”

Phil — a housemate who embodies every quality most parents spend their lives trying not to inculcate in their sons, ie, he is presented as vacuous and undiscerningly libidinous as a mean bull-dog, is now onscreen. He’s lying on the floor, looking up at a housemate’s bottom as it slides towards him down a strippers’ pole. The bottom belongs to Kelly. Phil doesn’t like her, either.

Afterwards, Phil complains to camera that Kelly’s private parts are hirsute, at which point I predict a wretched, lonely and accursed future for Phil. If a man lies at the bottom of a stripper pole, more than likely he will happen upon a vagina. For a man who lies at the bottom of a stripper pole, happens upon a vagina and then whinges about it, no cheerful destiny is possible.

We wrap up our viewing with a scene from an earlier episode, in which housemate Natalie celebrates her birthday by simulating sex on a dance floor, in front of an audience that includes her grandmother.

I close my laptop.

TV pundits have suggested that critics of the show are disdainful because its participants come from socially inferior socio-economic backgrounds; that when tuning into the show, we “pulled on our pince-nez, sat upon the loftiest stool and savoured feeling superior”.

“Is that her granny?” My daughter asks. “Think so,” I say.

“Why’s she doing that in front of her granny?”

“Dunno,” is all I can muster.

“Do you still want to know what I think?” she asks, getting out of bed.

“Yes,” I say.

“Basically, the boys are mean to the girls and the girls don’t seem to get it.”

If Senator David Norris is stuck for a motion for his debate on standards in Irish life, this one might do for starters.

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