We’re all familiar with London’s bad rep. It costs about £15 for a pint! Renters live in windowless shoeboxes! There are people everywhere! All! The! Time! Regardless, the bright lights of the Big Smoke have long drawn Britain’s young people to live and work here. And a group of six are about to see if they can survive it.
"I just feel like there are so many more opportunities in London," says 20-year-old Olivia from Bradford. She’s one of the six brought together by BBC Three for a new reality TV show, HouseShare. Olivia (here for good vibes only), Muna (21, Chelmsford, wants to earn lots of money), Paul (23, Sunderland, wants a grad job in fashion), Jess (21, Manchester, self-proclaimed party girl), Rian (21, Clacton-on-Sea, likes to spend lots of money) and James (27, Shetland Islands, carpenter who hates busy cities) have moved down to the capital for the first time to try and kickstart their careers.
Popped in a house somewhere towards Finchley, they each have to share every penny they earn with the group to fund rent, bills, travel, food and any other expenses along the way. Yes, some of them take the piss with it. Conflicting personalities and the fraught reality of involuntary codependency mean selfish behaviour doesn’t go down well at all. But that’s precisely what makes for entertaining 'reality' telly, isn’t it?
Take a minute to imagine yourself living in a houseshare with five strangers. You are one of only three who have a job and are therefore funding everyone else’s livelihood. You're a bit annoyed about it but don't want to make that known to the others because sharing is caring, you want to come across well to your new friends and, surely, everyone will get jobs and chip in soon. Surely.
It means that, despite working 45, 50 or 55 hours a week (as tactless spender Rian likes to remind us), you can’t spend your usual £50 per week on hot food chain lunches. Imagine getting home from work to find that one of the jobless housemates has spent the day sunbathing instead of looking for work as promised (that didn't go down well with Paul). Imagine receiving a dirty look for admitting you bought a chocolate bar on your lunch break (naughty Muna), only to be superseded by half of the group going heavy on the bevs, spending all but £8 of the house budget and ruining everyone’s plans for a big one at Pride the following day (ffs Rian, James and Jess!).
This is the spark for the first proper blowout of this desperately bingeable series. There’s boozy arrogance from James, who "doesn’t give a shit", and shouty outrage from Paul, who’d been looking forward to his first ever Pride all week. Tension had been brewing over the first three episodes so it was only a matter of time before true feelings were exposed over tins of San Miguel at 11.30pm. It's not resolved, of course. Instead there's some passive aggression, unsubtle break-offs into opposing sub-groups and the potential for an even bigger fallout the following week when one silly person decides to throw a few hundred of the house's £1,000 budget on a pair of not very nice trainers.
Consider this Big Brother with a smaller, younger cohort of wide-eyed hopefuls who are actually allowed to leave the house every day. Love Island without the sex and prize money but with the outside pressure of grown-up problems like being able to eat. HouseShare is an easy watch that you'll compulsively finish in one sitting. There are no real winners or losers but rather a reminder that being young and broke in London is really hard, really common and only gets worse when you live with five equally broke twentysomethings who will likely kick off over that recuperative glass of wine you had on the way home from work.