The Apprentice

So, last night, under the influence of the lurgy, I decided I would watch the first episode of The Apprentice.

As you may or may not know, depending on your luck in avoiding the damned thing, each series starts off with the contestants being split into two equal groups, based on whether they are “boys” or “girls”. Except that this year, there are eight women and only seven men, as one of the men pulled out before filming began. They are then given a task to perform, in their groups, which will inevitably be something that is designed to be “beneath” them. By which I mean that it is clear that nobody expects these privilleged, well-educated, weathly-looking people to have, for example, sold fish at a market stall. Or, as in yesterdays’ episode, cleaned for money (as opposed to cleaning their own homes, supposing that they actually do that).

Ten minutes in to the programme, after swearing loudly and violently at my laptop twice, I turned it off in disgust.

Given the nature of the task, I’m sure you can guess why I was swearing. But, to reiterate: the contestants were split into groups defined by gender, and then told to set up a cleaning business.


Five minutes in, in a taxi that is taking the men to their starting point, one of the men says:

“well, come on! It’s cleaning! How hard can it be? My wife cleans all the time…. no, that’s a joke.”

Call me a humourless feminist if you must, but I’ve always thought that if you have to say that something was a joke, it wasn’t fucking funny.


A few minutes after that, with the womens’ team sitting around a table, they have asked everybody and ascertained (surprise, surprise!) that no, nobody has any experience of industrial-scale cleaning. Almost immediately afterwards, one of the women, giving a “pep talk”, says:

“We’ve got to win this! There are more of us that there are of them… and besides, it’s cleaning!”

Yes, well spotted. It’s cleaning, and none of you have any experience. But presumably, you’ll know what to do by instinct, being women. Wow. It’s beyond me why the cleaning companies that I’ve tried to join ask for experience at all! I could just say to them, “hey, don’t worry – I’m a woman! I don’ t need experience when I’ve got a womb! FACT!”

To be honest, it’s probably a good thing that it was full of stupid, nasty stereotypes before anything had really happened. Because the episodes are an hour each week, and I don’t want to waste a whole precious hour on stupidity like that. Although I’ll admit to having to fight the compulsion to carry on watching it, much in the same way that people slow down to look at crashes on the road.



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