A new PR fashion agency is launched like a catapult into the world of fiction.
Grade PR is the headquarters for the new E4 “mock-doc”, The Work Experience. Each week it takes two ambitious interns on an entirely fabricated internship, involving actors as employees with everyone in the know apart from the vulnerable interns as they embark on a series of very questionable tasks.
The prank show format unveils characters such as the Edina Monsoon-type managing director Joanna Grade. There’s her bold ex-husband come-business-partner Colby; extravagant originator Shussi and Joanna’s roaming diary, Susan. The four stereotypes make for an hilarious team all playing key roles in prompting reactions from the interns through albino spray tanning, questions about fertility and illegal sweatshops.
The characters have unsurprisingly reached out through social media, each holding a Twitter account where the comedy continues. There’s a sense of reality with references to events in the show but also clients and even more oddly Joanna’s “youthful vagina”. The whole escapade is hilarious and as a PR student I hope I never experience such a, well, experience.
The first episode saw eager interns Thomas and Aquila placed in nightmare situations with cameras all around to catch each and every bit of drama. The glamorous side was there with photo shoots, models and famous rappers with an added spice of questioning the model’s sperm, verbally abusing the models and producing a albino fake tanned model for a photo shoot with a black rapper. With the interns at the heart of the madness facial expressions, verbal attempts to cover up and “private conversations” are incredibly entertaining.
The series has and no doubt will continue to bring out fresh humour but is it all at the expense of desperate interns eager to succeed in an exciting, growing environment. I and most probably every other work experience hunting student on my course would jump at the opportunity shown on the sitcom and that’s exactly why it works. But would the humour work in other industries or is this just another stab in the back at public relations?
After speaking with Tom Thostrup from 2LE Media, the young production company from London that produced the show, it became clearer why PR was chosen and if anything it became more about the diversity and the excitement of the industry rather than the willing interns .
“As the company would only ever be a shell and we had a limited budget with which to make it as realistic as possible we knew that we wouldn’t be able to create a fashion company whose end product had to be something tangible such as a magazine or a clothing range. PR, on the other hand, seemed like a suitably wide-ranging sphere that would allow us to cover a number of interesting and glamorous aspects of the fashion industry such as photo-shoots, model castings and celebrity endorsements.”
Either way there is light at the end of the tunnel and once the interns make it out the other side alive they are given a genuine paid PR internship at an actual fashion agency. Is all the tears, tension and traumas worth it? I don’t know, but the show has so far received positive feedback and interactions on Facebook and Twitter. The comedy is undeniably humorous and if we can’t laugh at ourselves who can we laugh at?