Deus Chet Machina: Bromans Episode 5
With the addition of Chet and Helen in this week’s episode, we were treated to the most blatant narrative contrivance since Medea rode away on a chariot pulled by dragons. The new couple were surely added as children of Discordia to add a bit of click-bait chaos to the programme. And it worked.
But before examining the fate of the new additions, let’s look at this week’s more academic moments.
There was a poignant vignette when one of the contestants remarked that, “Slaves became heroes overnight”. Indeed, there were ‘celebrity’ gladiators; Spartacus is perhaps the most famous, but several other names have gone down in history and are sometimes used to show that it was possible for slaves to find a way to enjoy their subservient positions. This of course is to ignore the fact that they had no choice about fighting in the arena and their deaths were as much of an enjoyable spectacle as their lives. Make no mistake, celebrity or not, being a gladiator was a death sentence waiting to be carried out. Are our modern TV ‘gladiators’ in Bromans a spectacle with no choice but to participate for our pleasure? Do we enjoy their failures as much as their successes? Certainly these programmes dispose with people as readily as they welcome them. Death in the arena is perhaps not always the worst thing that can happen to a gladiator though. Being eliminated from Bromans on ITV2 in a pair of gold pants for the world to see is possibly even worse.
On a less melancholic historical note, we were reminded of the Roman punishment of decimation when the Bromans were punished with press-ups for the crimes of their brethren. There was also an echo of Edward Gibbon when Jade used the phrase “it’s like the last days of Rome” and the eagle-eyed amongst you may have seen what I think was a Neptune fountainhead (or was it Jupiter?). Perhaps most accurate of all the references this week though was the inclusion of bawdy theatre production by the female contestants that included poetry, mime and dance all mixed in with innuendo and inappropriateness; it reminded me very much of Ummidia Quadratilla’s troupe.
The engineered introduction of Chet and Helen incongruously brought additional sophistication to the programme this week and at points, it almost felt like art. Helen was not on good terms with Nicola and as matters came to a head, the arrival of thunder and lightning outside added a touch of pathetic fallacy to proceedings. The storm then came inside as Helen pulled Nicola’s hair and was removed by some very non-Roman looking security, which completely broke the spell of the Classical world. The guards could have at least dressed up as Praetorians! Post-pull, Dominus deftly placed us back in the Roman world when he noted the thunder and remarked, “Jupiter makes his displeasure clear”. Glenn’s role as ingénue continued in this episode when he sagely remarked, “there was no social media to wind everyone up [in ancient Rome]”, which is true but surprising, as they certainly had the forums for it. Chet and Helen were subsequently punished with banishment from the show and their time was over quicker than Galba’s.
Finally, and somewhat bizarrely, Liam bought the farm after winning one contest and coming second in another. Even in victory, this huge beast of a man managed to find the location of defeat and we are once again reminded that their pain is for our pleasure. We who are about to watch, are amused by you.