I love watching ‘Connected’ on Network 2 at the moment. (I know, I know, its ‘RTE’ 2 but you ask me to accept a name-change once then that’s how it’s going to stay). The story of 6 women who have filmed themselves over 10 months is reality with actual bite. The honesty, the humour, the lack of a filter through which the show could have been scripted into mediocrity, the people themselves, are brilliant aspects to a show that reflects ‘now’ more than any Saturday Supplement or Government Press Release could hope to. We may be ‘Turning the Corner’, but the psychological effects of the Second Great Depression linger on.
Elayne and Venetia are my heroines in the show. Elayne, because she’s a true Dub and an artist who is trying to make it as a rapper, at the same time revealing how hard it is to exist as an artist in our society. There’s no money in gigs. When she’s clamped it’s a clear and present danger to her ability to eat that week. Though she’s a vegan, so ‘eating’ is a nefarious term. But she’s funny, brilliant and an inspiration to anyone who engages with Dublin as she does, like it’s a playground, a dreamscape. Somebody please invest loads of money in her and make her a superstar – she’ll be great and with that Cornucopian diet she’ll return your investment for years to com
Venetia I’ve known for years, as well as Martin her husband (the seventh major character in ‘Connected’, or ‘Martina – the seventh woman’ as I like to call him). They inspire me more because they are of my generation, the ones who travelled but came back and stayed put and put down roots because Ireland looked like it would thrive forever and we believed the Saturday Supplements about it being the happiest place on Earth. In the show we see how Martin has no work, though he ran amazing clubs like Strictly Handbag and Ultralounge for years, because after 2008 nobody went out in Dublin anymore (honestly, 2009 felt like a year-long Good Friday). So Venetia is the sole breadwinner from her job on Q102, and they are struggling with kids, mortgage and all the other thousand cuts my generation has been through.
Happily (spoiler alert) they have just opened the Artisan Parlour in Ringsend, the nicest deli / restaurant this side of Williamsburg, and I get a great feeling just walking in there. Not just because I’m happy for them, or because the toasted ham hock and cheese sandwich is absolutely killer (and the home-made apricot jam), but because it’s the kind of thing Ringsend was crying out for, what the city has been crying out for – a return to progression, creativity, business and NICE THINGS. Because, and no offence to the original residents of these places, a big social mix of people took place in the late 90s / 2000s when nice bohemian young couples began buying in areas like Ringsend, Kilmainham, Crumlin and Rialto. Which also brought a demand for nice places to go. Take Pickles on Sundrive Road- a wonderful addition to what was once a typical suburban strip. Rialto and Kilmainham are still crying out for it and that’s where Martin and Venetia should open next.
Following their story on ‘Connected’ has made me feel better about where we’re heading, and that’s the true cultural value of the show. It’s not a vulgar statement on class differences or a celebration of youthful inebriation, or a patronising insult to the true tastes, potential and ability of youth using loud noises and fit-inducing graphics. It’s actually given me faith, through Elayne, that the future is in safe hands. And through Venetia, that my generation can change our present circumstances through sheer determination and creativity. Some people have said they don’t know why it’s called ‘Connected’, because the women’s lives don’t cross over, their stories run in parallel. I think it’s because of how we, the viewers, connect with them. Long may it run.