Colin Hogg on television
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Colin Hogg: Valley of dolls hides some depth

Fable for modern life revealed in carefully constructed crises.

Mother-and-daughter act Jaime and Sally Ridge. Photo / Supplied
Mother-and-daughter act Jaime and Sally Ridge. Photo / Supplied

The last time I wrote about The Ridges I suggested the mother-and-daughter stars should be attacked by a rat for the sake of some action.

The only lively moment on the first episode had a mouse sending Sally and daughter Jaime scrabbling for high places like the silly girls they seem to want to be seen as.

I also called the pair tiresome, but now I want to take it all back. Because, despite having much better things to do, I've kept on watching The Ridges and I've started seeing hidden depths, signs of pathos and tragedy.

This, quite naturally, got me wondering whether what we have here is a cautionary tale, a fable for modern life - an important social document, even.

Being a Jaime or even a Sally Ridge might be a thing some ordinary New Zealanders dream about, but it turns out that the truth of their day-to-day existence is a nightmare on legs - perfect, tanned, waxed Auckland legs.

The series - six episodes in all - is made in a way that seems to follow the day-to-day lives of these big butterflies of local celebrity. But, because mostly they don't seem to do anything except go out for lunch at SPQR, there are a couple of carefully constructed dramas evolving in Ridge world (TV version), where mothers are more like sisters and daughters are more like mothers.

One drama is that, much to 18-year-old Jaime's chagrin, Sally (42) has moved them into a big old Grey Lynn pile she's having renovated, so things are dusty and yucky.

The other thing is we're living with Jaime's decision to enter the boxing ring with tarty Rosanna Arkle, star of The GC.

One of the several unshakeable memories of last week's episode (7.30, Wednesday, TV3) involved Jaime taking extreme weight-loss action at a colonic irrigation clinic with disturbingly graphic sound effects. Who knew celebs farted so?

After that, and the awful ongoing diet Jaime was on to lose kilos for the fight, the poor girl was all gloom - the blackest blonde in town. She'd lost her personality, said Sally, "so we're taking her to Queenstown to find it".

Once there, she whisked Jaime, who claimed not to have eaten anything in days, by helicopter to the top of a snowy peak where she put a nice glass of bubbles in her daughter's grumpy hand.

Then when Jaime ran to vomit in the toilet of the flash hotel bar her mother dragged her to, Sally stayed firmly in her seat with the camera. And later, comforting the girl when she broke down at a press conference for the boxing match, Sally was all comfort with her microphone on.

"She's dehydrated," said a worried Sally later to the camera. "She's already passed out once this morning. I'm seriously worried."

Then, in a perfectly lit shot, she put her perfect blonde head down next to Jaime's perfect blonde head and they worried together. It was a kind of visual Shakespeare.

Because it all played out months ago, we all know who's going to win Jaime's big fight, in the final episode tomorrow night, but I'm still oddly excited.

And disturbed, of course.

- NZ Herald

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