Five Ways to Fix Fair City

Alright, we’re three posts in so I’ve decided that it’s time to really put myself out there. Get folk talking and aim for little controversy. Bearing my soul one could say.

Remember in my first post I explained that the worst-case scenario of this little experiment would be that I get booed off wordpress? Well I think this could be what causes it. Confession time (well actually it’s not for anyone who knows me) but I regularly watch and have a keen interest in Fair City.

Now before you exit out of this post and write me off forever please just hear me out.

I regularly watch Fair City yes, but this isn’t necessarily because I enjoy it. Why would you bother then, I can hear you ask? Well here’s why, I watch it because I have an on off fascination with it since I was a child. It intrigues me. At times it’s sort of like a car crash where you don’t want to watch but then you can’t seem to turn away either but at other times it can teeter on the verge of being a decent, enjoyable soap. Don’t get me wrong the show never ceases to amaze with just how badly it manages to execute a storyline (Dermot’s “fatal” illness, Niamh’s revenge on Paul, Katie’s year in the filing cabinet) but with abysmal writing comes small trinkets of hope that true soap potential does lie beneath (Niamh and Michael’s affair and the fallout, anything to do with Carol and Robbie). I suppose you could say that I’m a glutton for punishment and maybe you’re right because it is at the best of times a frustrating mess to watch. But at the heart of it, it’s our mess.

It’s the Irish mentality to mock ourselves. We never take credit where credit is due. Now God knows Fair City makes that job easy but given how small we are and that we still manage to produce three soaps– Fair City, Red Rock and Ros Na Run – we should be proud. Fair City is easily the worst of the bunch at the moment but we should want it to improve. It’s possible, I think it’s safe to say that it doesn’t have to be as bad as it often is. Perhaps it just needs some guidance. Now I’m no soap writer but as someone who watches a lot of soaps (“too much”, mutters himself) I thought I’d try to think of a few friendly suggestions that could help improve the overall quality of the show.

On the best of days, the consensus of the show is that it’s a bunch of folk moving awkwardly from one location to another while whinging about whatever plot is happening that week. Normally it’s something nobody could care less about – like whether Damien and Pete decide to open the hardware shop of a Sunday (this was an actual story line by the way) – and sometimes we care slightly – has Heather succeeded in poisoning Ellie (no, she didn’t). The below were the top five things that frustrate me per episode.

  1. Gel the locations

Ok so I’ve watched episodes where characters start an episode at Vinos for breakfast before heading to McCoy’s for a coffee. They’ll then go to the community center for a tea before returning to Vinos for lunch and then onto The Station for a drink before hitting up The Hungry Pig for dinner. There will also be various stops to Spar in between. Do you know what they’ll be whinging about throughout the episode? How broke they are.

Make it realistic people. The transition between each location is awkwardly executed to say the least. I don’t think I’ve ever even visited my local Brambles, let alone gone for breakfast in the morning before visiting the pub for a coffee to then return to said Brambles for lunch and then onto my local community center for a tea. All the while fitting in a days work? Nobody does that. It’s insane.

  1. Give the characters a bit more personality

With some small exceptions, all the characters are essentially the same person. Or at least they start off with promise before morphing into the same one-dimensional moans that fill our screen. Give them some pizazz. You can have funny characters and you can have serious characters. Said characters don’t have to be the same person. Every scene can’t be each character whining all the time (and anyway, surely Debbie Downer O’Brien moans enough for all of Carrigstown). Break it up a bit. We need some controversial characters, more funny characters and dare I say it some bad boys (yes,yes, I too am cringing that I used the term bad boys but sure why not go all out with this). While the characters are all there in numbers, none of them are currently memorable. In fact, I’d go as far as to say that the stand out character in Carrigstown right now is Kevin’s American Accent.

  1. Redecorate, redecorate, redecorate

Every time I look at the interior of any of the sets I ask myself the same questions – why have they not changed since 1991. Bob and Renee now live in what was once Rita’s mother Hannah’s home back in the early 90’s. Every piece of original furniture from then is still there now, right down to the piano. Does nobody redecorate? Don’t even get me started on the McCoy’s backroom and that stupid clock that’s been on top of the fireplace for the past twenty odd years. I understand that there’s probably a budget to consider but are there no up and coming designers that want to get their name out there. We all know Fair City are partial to a bit of product placement here and there (how else did Katie O’Brien survive a year living in that filing cabinet if not for the miracle that is a Spar breakfast roll and a packet of cheese and onion).

  1. Bring Heather back

Because she’s excellent. I don’t care if it’s as the old evil Heather or new innocent Heather, I just want her back either way… and without Ellie or Brendan. Leave them in Brazil.

  1. No need to drag everything out

The show has been known to start some great story lines, the problem is they never know how to finish them. They then proceed to drag them out for so long that you forget what was ever good about them in the first place. For example,

  • Katie’s O Brien’s disappearance. It’s started out a brilliant mystery. One year later and I couldn’t have cared less whether she came out of it dead or alive. It dragged on too long. Everyone involved became unlikable and worst of all it made me hate breakfast rolls.
  • Niamh’s revenge plot. Again, it began well and she had some great moments getting one over on the ever so smug Hayley. The plot started to lose me though once herself and Dermot delved into the intricate details of money extortion. I don’t need to know how many Cayman offshore accounts are being used Dermot, I’m not planning to do it myself. The last straw came when she started the affair with that yank, as though Paul and Hayley weren’t mortifying enough to watch go at it I also had to deal with Marcus and his hairy back. It just all became too much to stomach really and viewer discretion should have been advised.
  • Dermot’s fatal illness. Started off like a touching farewell to a dear friend who had been on our screens for years and years. After a few months, it pained me to realize that they didn’t have the nerve to commit to actually killing him off. Instead he ended up bankrupting Paul and getting it on with Jane? Add to it that ridiculous non-death cliffhanger at Christmas and I don’t really understand what they were going for. Now he’s come back from being on the run in Spain with Ben but it’s just a flying visit apparently. Couldn’t he have just moved over to America to be with Jo? What was the bloody point of it all…

Honestly lads, not every plot has to drag out for years on end. Sometimes it’s good to just keep it short and sweet.

So there you have it. Five things that have been driving me mad for years. Out there now for all to see. As I’ve said before I’m no expert in anything I write about. Really I’m just a girl who watches way too much tv., what would I know right?


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