Proper Gander: Undercover Under the Covers

You’ve started to notice the tell-tale signs that your partner might be having an affair – their emotional distance from you, their ‘working late at the office’ excuses, their ruffled appearance when they finally return home. What do you do? Talk with them about your concerns? Question why we live in a society which makes people feel trapped in failing relationships? Or hire a camera crew to follow your partner and secretly film them cavorting with their lover, and then allow all this and the resulting messy confrontation to be broadcast worldwide? The last option seems to have been the most attractive to those appearing on Cheaters (UKTV Really, Sky 248, Freeview 20).

Slimy host Joey Greco guides us through each ‘case’. One half of a couple talks about their suspicions that their partner is being unfaithful, accompanied by twinkly keyboard music for extra poignancy. Then we cut to what Greco’s team of detectives has filmed: shaky undercover footage of the partner’s furtive meetings with their new lover. This is narrated with lines like “agents are on active duty waiting for movement from the target”. The spurned spouse is shown this footage at the same time that their partner has been spied gallivanting elsewhere. Fired up with anger, they are then taken by Greco and his camera crew straight to where their partner is canoodling. If it looks like the ensuing confrontation won’t be as violent as he’s hoping for, Greco stokes the fire with a few smug comments.

The producers of this vile show try to justify themselves by saying “this program is both dedicated to the faithful and presented to the false-hearted to encourage their renewal of temperance and virtue”. ‘Virtue’ isn’t the most obvious word to associate with this show, especially as it has been accused of staging some of its salacious set-ups. If anything, Cheaters would be less repellent if it was faked. At least then, its voyeuristic viewers would only be watching desperate actors rather than desperate people clinging on to whatever relationships they can find. Cheaters represents television sinking to a new low in presenting alienation as entertainment. Scrub your eyes clean after watching.

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