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Home > Media

'Party Animals': The Politics of Youth

4 February 2007

As if we needed another, it looks like BBC2’s new ‘political’ ‘drama’, ‘Party Animals’, is one more harbinger of the new Dark Age that’s poised to flatten all in its path in a tsunami of twattery. With Chris Moyles riding at the forefront like a doughnut-stuffed horseman of the apocalypse, obviously.

Making its debut this week, the show performed the singular feat of simultaneously being an allegory for the old Dark Age that swept through Europe in the early Middle Ages *and* being symptomatic of the cultural cretinism that’s giving birth to the new one.

For those that missed it (which was most of you, it only garnering 1.3 million viewers), ‘Party Animals’, as the title suggests, follows the daily lives of a bunch of young Westminster insiders as they shag, snog and snort their way across the 21st century’s political landscape.

Just as Europe in the Middle Ages was dominated, to its detriment, by young, uneducated princelings, ‘Party Animals’ sees virtue in the country’s political machine being run by twenty-somethings who seemingly know next to nothing. So much so, one of the characters, who is 31 and deemed past it, is killed off in a bloody road accident.

All the elements you’d expect are present and correct: the two cocky work-hard/play-hard lobbyists who, when not subsisting on a nocturnal diet of coke and Jack Daniels in order to clinch their deals, are coming up fresh as daisies the next morning to throw a football to each other in the office; the gorgeous but hard-bitten female reporter; the ball-breaking woman MP with the heart of gold; and the token ethnic character, a female researcher who, naturally, is shagging her married Tory MP boss.

The piéce de resistance, however, and the character we’re supposed to identify with the most, is Danny, the quietly-spoken, slightly clumsy but driven and caring researcher for aforementioned cold-but-gold MP. He’s poorly dressed with greasy hair, geeky specs, drawls in flat Naarthern vaarls, and he moons over the office intern. Like Jarvis Cocker without the machismo.

The thing is, without the portraits of politicians that line the corridors the characters are always striding down (the one of David Cameron looks like he’s being obscenely inflated), you could easily forget the show revolves around politics. The ‘Good Behaviour Bond’, a reward for ASBO kids going straight, that Danny and his MP try to get through Parliament is what Alfred Hitchcock called the ‘macguffin’ - a hook on which to hang what passes for the plot. For all its relevance, they could have been sweating over the Arc of the Covenant, a recipe for egg salad or, considering the dramatic tension that was stirred up, a sodding
Mars Bar.

In an age where nobody, except for the show’s writers apparently, thinks taking cocaine or swigging tequila from the bottle is particularly ‘edgy’ any more, the whole premise could have been set in a provincial village Rotary Club and had the same impact. Or on a pig farm in 9th century Saxony.

Christ, it was shit.

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