Like many of the other curious people to stop by channel Ten on Monday night at 8.30, I found myself literally gaping at the TV screen in astonishment at the level of idiocy demonstrated by members of the cast of The Shire.

From the two plastic surgery obsessed best friends, to the self-confessed daddy’s girl who maxes out her father’s credit card on $15, 000 nose jobs and shopping,  the portrayal of the characters is not very flattering.

Undoubtedly the show lived up to its hype and I think it will have its place amongst a select few viewers who enjoy similarly trashy reality TV such as The Hills, Jersey and Geordie Shore.

The Shire - the picture says it all

Ten might consider the show an instant success if social media statistics are anything to go by. According to We Are Social Australia, over 30, 000 people tweeted about the show that night, which is believed to be a television first. Although an overwhelming amount of these tweets (93%) were negative.

The backlash to this show will be somewhat interesting to follow from a PR perspective.

A real issue for the Sutherland Shire Council will be the potentially detrimental effect that the show may have on tourism and the overall image of the Southern Sydney enclave.

Following Monday night’s episode, Shire Council mayor, Carol Provan responded to the show’s criticism by making an appearance on TODAY. On the program she publicly slammed the content and criticised the cast.

The way in which she handled herself was ill informed. Not only did she appear snobby and intolerant, but Provan’s negative tone and remarks including, suggesting that she’d “never seen these people before”, made her appear as if she was trying to shift the blame for the awful depiction of the Shire’s residents on other suburbs.

This was especially evident when she accused the show’s seemingly sole non-Caucasian characters, Sophie and Vernessa of not living in the Shire, but hailing from Burwood instead.

Rightly so, this insulted the mayor of Burwood who accused Mayor Provan of being racially intolerant. This is certainly not a label she would want to have stuck to her, especially given Provan’s place as the mayor of an area known for being the location of the 2005 race riots.

The mayor’s appearance on TODAY was a bad PR move and choosing to take a defensive stance was in my opinion, the wrong decision. I don’t think the Council needed to support the show, but publicly condemning it was not a good idea either.

There’s a theory in PR that when a person claims innocence, the public will still think that the person is guilty. I think in this scenario the theory certainly may ring true.

Instead of damning the program and consequently further acknowledging the stereotypes of the Shire on the show, I think the Council needed to stick to one key statement to the media which steers the conversation towards the good things and role models that the Shire has to offer.

What do you think, was Carol Provan’s decision to criticise the show and its characters on TV a bad PR move?