Mary Queen Of Shops, BBC2

by | May 31, 2007 | All, Reviews

Reviewed by Mephistopheles, who is a past-master of coercing people to selling their soul for ephemeral financial well-being for the affordable price of a soul.

Did it go down well in the fiery pits of Hell?

Marvellous Mary is the masterly mistress of making mindless morons mimic her macabre mentality, and Tim and Soly were perfect sacrificial lambs to be slaughtered at the high altar of high fashion.

What was diabolical about it?

• Mary’s sneering introduction to Soly and Tim, who were portrayed as clueless bumpkins on a day out from the Asylum for the Criminally Unfashionable. As Mary stated: “The couple pride themselves on being creative”, an example of their creativity was illuminated in the shape of a ham-fisted papier-mâché shark affixed to the wall.

• Mary soon showed them who was boss with: “I’m giving them a month of my time”, as if they should be grateful to be even breathing the same rarefied oxygen as her, let alone assisting resuscitate their moribund shop.

• Mary also wore sunglasses even though it was an overcast day, which just goes to show how public-spirited and safety-conscious she is as should she turn her gaze on anyone unfashionable she would instantly turn them to stone, with the pebble-dashed corpse relocated in the garden of mock Tudor mansion.

• The depth of her analysis of what is wrong with Ju-Ju marks her out as the Einstein of fashion. “This shop feels like it was once cool. But the clothes are now naff, naffer and hideous,” she correctly observed before noting its resemblance to a cheap bordello. “This shop is a fashion car crash,” she concluded, spinning webs with silken words plucked from the mouths of a thousand bawling teenagers.

• Mary’s uncanny talent to discriminate icons amid the amorphous fashion herd. To an eye less perceptive than Mary’s, her tribe the ‘Fashion Rebel’ which she wanted to attract to Ju-Ju, would appear to be nothing more than a dumb slave who senselessly squanders much of their cash on dull over-priced garish garments that make them look slightly different to their peers but that damns them as scrambling superficial squid.

• By taking Soly and Tim out on the Brighton streets where nobody knows their shop causes Soly to break down and weep. And not only does this mean the TV producers can savour their Holy Grail of the ‘Tearshot’, but also makes them more receptive to subsequent stages of their souls being extracted from their bodies to be flayed with lashes forged from grey cardigans.

• After establishing that ‘Fashion Rebels’ are unique, Mary dragged Soly and Tim to south-east London (“the coolest part of the capital”). Mary then showed them how fashion rebellion means that a thousand people all try to look different but end up looking the same – which is the key attraction of fashion rebellion as they haven’t copied everyone, they, like all great minds, simply think alike. It’s also why “any good fashion magazine will show you that punk influences and skinny fit jeans are everywhere”; and the reason they’re everywhere is that ‘Fashion Rebels’ instinctively know what is on-trend.

• Mary also knows how to colour in her philosophy with the most salient easy-to-understand facts so fashion novices like Tim and Soly can understand her. Witness that she included the fact that “£100m is spent on lighting in Britain” – a fact chosen solely because the expenditure was nicely rounded-off to a figure that sounds impressive rather than because it was the most relevant fact.

• Mary also knows how to humiliate her subjects should they resist the will of her fashion tsunami. She asked Tim and Soly to dress some group for Mixmag, but the group hated the clothes they were forced to wear, until “embarrassingly the fashion editor has to step in to save the day.” It’s also nice to see music mags such as Mixmag not restricting themselves to the dull drizzle of music, but also flourishing with the rainbow of fashion.

• Whenever Tim and Soly offered the slightest resistance to the naked pillaging of their souls, Mary is quick-witted enough to suppress any dissent. “If you don’t buy the designer collection you won’t have a business.”

• Mary is also aware that anybody watching is doing so to watch her and her alone and don’t care about a couple of Brighton wannabe-hippies. “I think you’ve done a good job. I feel really happy now. I wasn’t sure you’d be able to do it, but you have.”

What was sickeningly pious about it?

• Mary’s bravery was astonishing. In wars, they give out medals for crawling out into no-man’s land to rescue fallen comrades, but Mary deserves so much more than that for risking contracting contagious unfashionability from Soly. The clothes she picked out to show off her unique sense of style were a top that looked as though it had been dyed with mud and a vest that appears to have been scavenged from the bloody corpse of a human sacrifice.

Luke Knowles

Luke Knowles


Editor of the website and host of the podcast. A general TV obsessive. I've been running the site since 2008 and you can usually find me in front of the TV. My Favourite show of all time is Breaking Bad with Cracker coming a close second. I feel so passionately that television can change the world and I'm doing my little bit by running this site. You're Welcome!


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