UK’s Lesbian Reality Show “Candy Bar Girls” Premieres in July, Is Already in Trouble

Back in February, “porn baron” Richard Desmond, the new owner of Britain’s Channel 5 and long-time owner of the Daily Express, OK! and several adult TV channels, announced the network would be debuting a lesbian reality TV show called “Candy Bar Girls” this spring. The premise: to follow “the lives and loves of a group of young lesbians who work hard and party even harder in and around this iconic Soho establishment [The Candy Bar].”

The show will premiere July 7th.

The description from the Channel 5 website is as follows (please note the usage of “lifestyle choices” in the last paragraph — isn’t that special?):

“The Candy Bar…offers viewers a unique insight into the previously unseen side of Soho. These are real lives, real loves, real people. In this six part series, the drama starts to unfold as we join the cast in their race against time getting the Candy Bar ready for its re-launch after a recent refurbishment.

Viewers will be drawn into a world filled with raunchy drama and unique characters. The series aims to explore the day-to-day experiences of the girls as they look for the ideal date, find the perfect flat-mate and deal with relationship break ups.

The series will also explore the girls’ relationships with their families and find out how their parents and those closest to them feel about their lifestyle choices. We follow the Candy Bar girls on their journey as they look for the answers, all set against the backdrop of a giant and vibrant city”.

This familiar idea will likely be just as awesome for the lesbian community as the U.S.’s reality shows about drunk lesbians, Gimme Sugar and The Real L Word! Also, much like those shows, the programme is being pitched to the media as a “serious sociological inquiry” which will not “herald a racier direction for the channel.”

Jeff Ford, the channel’s director of programmes:

“It’s not about being salacious: it’s about our mission to reflect Britain and maybe people who haven’t been reflected, perhaps ever. This is a section of Britain that has never really been under the microscope. The Candy Bar, like us, is having a relaunch and this series will examine how the people associated with it live their lives. They are also like us in that they are trying to build up a business.”

However, The Candy Bar Girls‘ new sexually suggestive advertising campaign seems to fall in line with the network’s promise that “viewers will be drawn into a world filled with raunchy drama and unique characters” rather than with the “sociological inquiry” Ford describes.

these girls are going to be on the show

Consequentially, Channel 5 is under investigation from TV watchdog Ofcom, which actually makes me want to watch the show even more.

According to Ofcom, TEN ENTIRE PEOPLE have complained about the Candy Bar Girls adverts placed on daytime television. Ofcom will be “investigating whether the ads breached the broadcasting code in respect to rules around appropriate scheduling and offence.” The ads are described like so:

Each of the on-air promos for the new reality show feature teasing close-up images that appear to be of two women engaged in sexual activity, intercut with lines such as ‘Red… hot… lesbians’ and ‘Pussy… loving… ladies’.

Wider shots then reveal the women to be engaged in more innocent activities, such as a gym workout and a woman stroking a toy cat in another’s lap, with the voiceover stating, “Well, what were you expecting?”, before a plug for Candy Bar Girls.

See for yourself:


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In addition to these TV spots, the girls at The Most Cake have photographed “tube ads”:

The cast will include Big Brother alum Shabby Katchadourian and a bunch of other hot lesbians and will open with the Candy Bar’s re-opening under the new ownership of a dude named Gary, who owns a bunch of gay bars in London.

The first episode promises such sociological inquiries as:

“DJ Sandra holds a photoshoot to find the face of the newly revamped bar, but the casting descends into drunken chaos.”

“Danni becomes nervous at the idea of dancing in front of a crowd, so she decides to practice in the club during its refit, drawing the attention of a crowd of builders in the process.”

“… the success [Danni] finds at the venue puts a strain on the relationship with her long-term girlfriend. Will the couple be able to weather this stormy period of their romance?”

Will The Candy Bar Girls be a billion times better than The Real L Word? Will it be just as bad but more entertaining? Will it seem better than The Real L Word simply because we’re not expecting it to be like The L Word? When the hell is Lip Service coming back?  The Most Cake reflects on the future:

I suppose it was inevitable someone would decide to make a reality tv show about lesbians. After all Lindsay Lohan made it sort of sexy back in 2008, that BBC one got a second series commissioned, and the whole lesbian sex thing sure looked pretty hot in that film about ballet.

I suppose it was also inevitable that it would make 80% of us pound our fists into our eyes, heave deep sighs and moan about how this will take representation of lesbians back about two decades and make everyone think we are either strippers or DJs. Reality TV hasn’t been very kind to either fat people or gypsies, so the fear is that it’s not going to make us come across very well.

Will you be watching?

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Riese is the 33-year-old CEO, CFO and Editor-in-Chief of Autostraddle.com as well as an award-winning writer, blogger, fictionist, copywriter, video-maker and aspiring cyber-performance artist who grew up in Michigan, lost her mind in New York City, and now lives in The Bay Area. Her work has appeared in nine books including "The Bigger the Better The Tighter The Sweater: 21 Funny Women on Beauty, Body Image & Other Hazards Of Being Female," magazines including Marie Claire and Curve, and all over the web including Nerve, Bitch, Emily Books and Jezebel. She had a very popular personal blog once upon a time, and then she recapped The L Word, and then she had the idea to make this place, and now here we all are!

Riese has written 1758 articles for us.

76 Comments

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    Can’t be worse than the Real L Word, and they’ll have accents. Also Britain seems to be ahead of the U.S. by at least two years fashion-wise, so sometimes I like watching Brit TV just to see what I’ll be wearing next year.
    At this point I do not expect any reality show to make lesbians look like real people, and have accepted they are made with a significant amount of male gaze in mind. With these lowered expectations in mind plus accents and interesting clothes, I may watch some parts, or maybe just read recaps if AS writes some.

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      I think they are! Which gives me a liiiiiiitle bit of hope that this show isn’t going to be a car crash for us over here in the UK.

      The funny thing is it’s centred around Candy Bar – which is tacky as hell, been there for ages kind of girl bar in soho. I think most people (I know) go once or twice after they come out and then never again. There’s been a whole new lot of gay life in East London and (happily?) the tv people have ignored this …

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    woohoo! that’s all i have to say. also i didn’t get the adverts when i watched them before, thanks for explaining, even though there wasn’t actually much to explain, i am clearly just a bit thick.
    i’m not excited for this as a show, but i will enjoy giving my mom food for thought when she sees me watching it because i am too lazy to come out, thanks channel 5 – hi 5!

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    Re: Lip Service

    Frankie played a ridiculously hetero character on this season’s Borgia’s – did anyone else see that? I hope that doesn’t mean anything for Lip Service!!

    Oh yeah – and that subway ad… I want it!

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    well, uh, at least the girls in those promo photos look like Lesbians I Know for once? But then again the UK is like World of Girls With Gay Hair Who Aren’t Actually Gay so maybe it’s just a British thing.

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    I … I am kind of intrigued? I mean, I’m entirely prepared to hate it. But the ads are clever and cheeky, imo, and the girls are cute. And British.

    I admit I’m a terrible anglophile, but really. Everything’s better when it’s British.

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    I am fairly certain those ads exist solely for the purpose of embarrassing any lesbian trapped watching Channel 5 with their CSI-addicted mother.

    I am also fairly certain that, as with Lip Service, I will find it mostly cringeworthy, while Americans are blinded to its failings by their indiscriminate British accent mania.

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    I know some people will say that any visibility is good for our community but I wholeheartedly disagree. Like TRLW, this is just yet another pathetic attempt at pandering to a straight (primarily male) audience and making them think they know what lesbians are about when they really don’t have a clue. Ugh, sorry ladies, I’m just getting sick of our community being exploited.

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      i agree with you actually, i’m sort of surprised that everyone likes these promos! if you read the copy from Channel 5 and the episode descriptions, it sounds like it’s going to be exactly like The Real L Word — more drunk lesbians being drunk and fucking other lesbians.

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        Dude…I don’t know about you, but the lesbians I hang out with usually ARE drunk most of the time… I’ll definitely have to see how this turns out, but I’m gonna keep an open mind until I get offended haha

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    unpopular opinion:
    ugh i cant even…
    no. just, no.
    i was looking forward to this show, now i’m sort of dreading it.
    maybe if you’re not from the uk it’ll be amusing in a ‘fictionalised’ kind of way, same as TRLW and jersey shore is to (some) of us brits, but personally i think it seems like more of the same over-sexed, rubbish, stereotyped crap that gets churned out every few years when being lgbtqi gets momentarily fashionable.
    ‘course i might not be right about…i hope i’m not!
    PROVE ME WRONG BBC.

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    Whoah !
    Hold your horses …shouldn’t we be forming a posse around the not OK anti – gay corral right now?

    Many good comments but have we not forgotten the “On” / “Off button thingy here?
    Chill & let the brit clits have the benefit of the doubt before you send them to hetero hell

    Let’s wait and see what the Candy Store has to offer before demanding our orgasms back

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    So the guy that owns Channel 5 also owns The Daily Express, pretty much the most hateful, bigoted newspaper imaginable (also previously known to have been homophobic http://enemiesofreason.co.uk/2010/07/08/its-worth-bothering-to-get-angry-at-express-scum/) newspaper imaginable.

    I’ll be honest I’m not optimistic about this show, I didnt think Lip Service was great and that was produced for the BBC. Channel 5, on the other hand still struggles to be regarded a legitimate TV channel here in the UK, in my opinion at least…

    Also in my head I cant help reading Channel 5 as Chanel 5, you know like the perfume.

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    Jason from The Wild Hunt said this about Pagans on reality TV: “As I have said before, reality programs (for the most part) aren’t looking to normalize outsider views and faiths, just to put them on (highly edited) display. A sanitized freak-show for our modern era. No matter how positive or good-intentioned there is always a touch of outlandishness inherent in these programs”

    I share that opinion when it comes to just about any minority group. While those ads are clever and do seem to be mocking the pornified idea of lesbians a lot of straight men have, I’m just not convinced that the actual show will be anything but a drunken exploitation-fest, just like TRLW. My only hope is that it isn’t as deadly boring as TRLW.

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    Well obviously this show won’t be doing the LGBT community a favor, not by any stretch of the imagination. But since when have reality shows actually been a good thing for minority groups? Since never.

    That said, I’m excited to see this. It will probably be very, very dumb, but I believe it will also have a large amount of hot girls, so that’ll make up for it I’m sure. Also, the ads are hilarious.

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    Ah come on, what reality show isn’t massively offensive and badly representative?

    Also, seeing as Jersey Shore and The Hills etc etc sparked off the whole set up reality shite that offends everyone who is supposedly represented in that show (i used to live in essex, and I have never had my vadge dazzled with diamonds…sadly) if this does end up being a Real L Word copy trainwreck, America, you have only yourself to blame.

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    I was only half watching the telly when the promo came on, and I heard the really obnoxious “NICE PUSSY!” line. My gay little ears pricked up like WHAT, LESBIANS? THERE ARE LESBIANS?

    The promos made me cringe my eyeballs out, I don’t think they could be anymore obviously pandering to a hetero male audience, but I guess it could be interpreted either way.

    I figured if I wanted to see loud, drunk, cringeworthy lesbians being loud, drunk and cringeworthy, I would live my own stupid cliched life. Nevertheless,gonna try and reserve judgement until I’ve actually seen an episode.

    Here’s hoping it’ll be at least as hilarious as geordie shore

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    The promo ads are stupid. And cheesy. Ugh. The only thing that will make me watch it is the fact that it’s an english programme and I really really REALLY miss England (am living in Ireland)

    Sort of wish people would stop making shows about lesbians and bisexuals now! UGH

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    Channel 5 is mostly male-orientated TV channel (lots of shows about cars, submarines, survival etc), so this show will be titillation for the lads. Without sounding like snob (alas …), the Candy Bar does not attract the best of crowds.

    The same bar was also part of a TV series years and years ago. ‘Tis nothing new.

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    This will probably be funny as hell, especially figuring out who in London knows the girls featured (and has the dirt on them).

    OTOH, seeing as it will be on Channel 5, and that Candy Bar now lets men in, it’s gonna get worse with an influx of creepy straightguys perving on the lesbians. Candy Bar always had this going for it: it’s been a relatively space to drunkenly pass out :3

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    Oh no.
    If the promos are this bad it really doesn’t bode well for the actual show. I hate The Candy Bar anyway, it was OK under the original management but even then wasn’t really my scene.

    In the immortal words of Bart Simpson, ‘this is going to both suck and blow’.

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    This looks so cheesy…and because it’s closer to home it’s embarrassing lol

    That doesn’t mean I won’t be watching it though! Although, I’m pretty sure this will paint a bad picture for lesbians in the UK and everyone will be talking about it negatively.

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    Just watched it and wasn’t as mortified as I thought I would be. It’s nice to have more “story-line” than a dreaded “player” going on and on about how her fling/ girlfriend/ lepracy inflicting girl drama complication is like crack she can’t steer clear of, lots of sperm talk and a newly sober drama queen taking out her frustrations for fear of her loosng her fun on her live in cleaner lady girlfriend. Seriously though, do love the real l word. Shabby was like a prepubescent naughty boy talking about how drunk she was getting all the time like she wasnt allowed to be and it was super awesomness. uk lesbians so far like to drink A LOT. US lesbians like to sex a lot, you know its a seriously true representation ;-)

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    Anyone who hates this show because it “misrepresents lesbians” is silly. First of all, ALL reality TV misrepresents minorities. Second, if ANYONE thinks for a second that this is what REAL lesbians are like, they aren’t worth your time anyway because obviously they let the media think for them and inform them with its own ideas.
    I’m not afraid to admit I plan to watch this show for the hotness, the fun, and the accents (anglophile here, nothing gets my juices flowing like a brit)

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    Concerned, but mostly not bothered. If it’s good, wonderful. If it’s bad, I can be smug about it.
    Clearly, the important question this article asks is “When the hell is Lip Service coming back?”
    That’s a wonderful question. When the hell IS Lip Service coming back? I know next to nobody watched it, but what am I supposed to do without queer angst on my tv, BBC?

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