The Manager continued
Carey, it seemed, had not only regained but magnified her former fame and fortune. Then, as quickly as the romance had blossomed, it ended. Much was made of the fact that the break-up took place after the couple had visited the offices of W2B Entertainment for, The Voice informed us, a meeting with manager Wendy to discuss the new single. (The song, a duet with Theo and Carey's first in three years, was set to be a hit even before it was recorded.) It is hard to know what exactly transpired in the meeting as this was the only place where Carey was not filmed, but she came out looking sullen. Theo's chiseled face betrayed nothing but its usual good health and handsomeness. The few words they exchanged in the people-carrier on the way back to the house are the only clue we have as to why they broke up. The transcript from the show reads as follows:
THEO: Go on then, say it
CAREY: I'm not saying anything
THE VOICE: Carey and Theo appear to have had a tiff
THEO: But you have to
CAREY: I don't have to do anything. Fuck her
THEO LOOKS OUT OF THE WINDOW
What were the couple having 'a tiff' about? Who was the woman Carey referred to in that last sentence, causing her to utter her first profanity in over three months? While some magazines alleged that it was someone Theo was having an affair with, it is almost certain that Carey was, as many at the time pointed out, referring to manager Wendy. Some commentators merged the two theories, positing that Theo was actually the manager's lover to whom she had given a role on Carey Comes Back! in order to further his career, but, envious at watching them attack each other like wildcats night after night, pulled him from the show. Others suggested that Theo was actually the manager's son, or, and here one can see the effect of the public's inability to probe the depths of Theo's persona and the reasons for his fame, that he had been created for her using the latest in genetic engineering in a secret lab in Los Angeles - a theory supported by the fact that he had an American accent.
Whatever the reason for their break-up, Theo packed his bags upon their return to the house, said 'bye-bye' and left, flashing his dimples as he went, making us reflect that, despite the fact that he was abandoning her, he was a pleasant fellow after all. Carey sat in the kitchen staring into space throughout this episode, and continued to sit there for a full fourteen minutes and forty-three seconds after Theo had slammed the front door behind him. The dead air of the house penetrated our living rooms and bedrooms, lulling us into a zombie-like daze, until we were jolted to attention by the smash of a vase of lilies being knocked off the kitchen counter. What followed was, as Nanny Nancy described it in the after-show commentary, a full-blown tantrum in which Carey smashed crockery and electrical appliances, ran through the house yanking paintings off walls, opening wardrobes and drawers and emptying their contents onto the floors and finally smashing and ripping out whichever cameras she could get her hands on. But by the next morning, they were back again, watching, and so were we.
The third season, as with third seasons of most shows, was confused, seeing Carey swing violently back and forth in her behaviour. She reverted to her former accent, dressed in the remnants of her previous wardrobe, fed the children McDonalds for dinner (much to the annoyance of Subway, the show's official sponsor), sang wildly and masturbated in the bathtub. However, there was something askew about her performance, akin to watching a puppet pull its own strings, as if, rather than being the former Carey, she was playing at being the former Carey.
Indeed, it seemed that sometimes she even tired herself out with her own performance and on such occasions she would wake up, exercise, prepare a healthy breakfast and speak to the children in a neutral, middle-class accent, only to remember halfway through the day that she was supposed to be someone else and switch roles.
It is hard not to surmise that, during the numerous meetings she had with Wendy during this time, she must have asked to be released from her contract and, upon being refused, attempted to sabotage the show that had been created around her person. She even breached the terms of her contract when she contacted ex-husband Trevor Gates - a move which backfired when he sold his story to The Eye for a five-figure sum in which he expressed his deep concern for Carey, who had been left unhinged as a direct consequence of leaving him, thereby calling into question the claims she had made during their meeting that Wendy was a control freak who was holding her hostage in her own home. A curious effect of this interview, apart from setting the direction of Carey's narrative in the press - that of paranoia and mental ill-health - was that Trevor's luck with the ladies, which had been non-existent since the negative press he had received whilst with Carey, reversed, resulting in a string of relationships with models, actresses and singers - a good fortune which persists to this day.
Shortly after her attempt to reveal all to Trevor, Carey's car was towed away for, The Voice told us, maintenance work, making it impossible for her to leave the house even for a walk as by this time the media had figured out the precise location of the house and, along with fans and curious members of the public, were permanently gathered outside. It was then that Carey started addressing the cameras directly. A typical excerpt from one of her sessions in front of the camera at this time is reprinted below:
- Please, T, I love you. If you love me you'll come back. You'll help me. Only you understand. Only you can set me free…
How were we to know that these declarations of love, clichéd and repetitious, were not part of the creative process or promotion for her new song? We watched with a mixture of fascination and pleasure until she was finally reduced to a silent lump on the settee. Soon after, her car was returned.
Although Carey seemed to forget her attempts to return to her former self, her behaviour remained unstable. She would wake up in the dead of the night and address the cameras in conspiratorial whispers, telling us that Wendy was a psychopath, a witch, the devil himself, while appearing to have no memory of it when she woke up just a few hours later. One minute she would be throwing flour around whilst making gingerbread men with the children, and the next, she would be yelling at them. She howled with laughter or tears when she read about herself in the press. These fissures in her persona manifested themselves in the house, which started to reveal the dark network of plumbing, electric, camera and security systems that lay beneath its perfect surface.
With the benefit of playback, we can see how the blips in Carey's behaviour were directly related to the strange occurrences in the house. Every time she committed a small offence, such as the aforementioned gingerbread incident, she would, upon touching any electrical appliance in the house for the next twenty-four hours, be issued with a small electric shock. Addressing the cameras resulted in more severe penalties, such as the water turning freezing cold or scalding hot when she or the children were taking a shower, and, after an appearance on Morning Break in her most serious act of rebellion thus far, in which she told us that her life was in danger, that she had signed her contract with Wendy in blood and that her DNA was being tampered with - all of which, having witnessed her previous dramatic appearances on Morning Break, we did not take seriously, the sound system blasted her old songs through the speakers installed in every room of the house in the early hours and continued to do so even after she had unplugged the hi-fi and smashed it to bits and the children were sobbing under heaps of pillows while she rocked back and forth with her hands over her ears. The music eventually stopped, only to start again as soon as she had put the children to sleep.
It was after this incident that Carey stopped talking about the manager and instead committed two acts that foreshadowed the horror to come.
The first of these, although unexpected, was not too harmful; she picked up a pair of craft scissors that Martini had left lying around one afternoon and chopped off her blonde locks. Shortly after this episode, the house's security system malfunctioned, and we saw her banging on the doors and tugging at the handles like a raggedy doll whose stuffing was falling out, while The Voice, in ironic and friendly tones, said, "Oh dear, looks like Carey has locked herself in again. The hi-tech security system seems to be too much for the blonde…"
Carey's management released statements claiming that Carey had started using drugs again and that they had her best interests in mind. Friends and estranged family members confirmed this position, publicly expressing their concerns in exchange for handsome sums, and, given Carey's erratic behaviour and history, the majority of us believed them while speculation and conspiracy theories thrived online, fuelling the show's publicity.
In the last episode of the season, which came a few episodes earlier than scheduled, Carey jammed an ice-pick into her chest and was rushed to hospital with silicone seeping out of her breasts, finally forcing us to pay heed to the campaigners from Mind, Human Rights Watch and the NSPCC, who had been protesting all along, but had not, until now, been given much publicity. We were convinced that this was, finally, the end of the Carey show - but we were wrong; Carey came back for another season of Carey Comes Back!
In the fourth season, they found a way to explain it all; she had bi-polar. A nurse moved in and administered pills three times a day. Nationwide sales of Prozac, Laxapro, Nardil and DVS-233 spiked, and although there is no concrete evidence that the manager had arrangements with the pharmaceutical companies involved, her diary revealed that she did meet with several representatives from these firms.
There was no hint of any personality left in Carey, but her hair had grown back and been re-styled into a straight cut with a fringe, which was easier on the eye. Viewing figures sagged, forcing the show to move to cable, and the mobile camera crew were disposed of, as Carey no longer left the house. Despite all this, the show retained a strong following - Carey had a loyal fan-base, and besides, it was easy-watching after the highs-and-lows of the previous season. Only occasionally was our attention called to the fact that something was amiss in that house, for example when Macaroni looked up from his Lego one evening and had the following exchange with his mother;
- Mummy, why don't we all kill ourselves?
- If it weren't for you, I would.
Or when Carey scrubbed away at the same spot for hours on end as if trying to unearth the reflected image of her face she saw there, causing the lacquer to come away and surfaces to scratch.
It was the fifth season, the finale, that everyone remembers. There is a depth to this season which means that it can be watched over and over again yet always reveal some new meaning behind Carey's actions; the way in which she appeared to swallow her pills, her purchase of a pestle and mortar for the kitchen, her midnight drives to Beachy Head, where she would stare out over the cliffs for hours. That she had stopped cleaning obsessively and started doing some bizarre things, such as writing her name over and over again on post-it notes and sticking them on every item in the house, should have alerted us to the fact that she was no longer ingesting her pills.
Then, one evening, she prepared hot milk for the children - unextraordinary apart from that sleight of hand tipping white powder into white milk - watched them drift away and drove out to Beachy Head, where she sat for fifty-three minutes before getting out of the car, and disappearing into the darkness. Her management claimed that there was nothing they could do - nobody was watching the tapes at that time - but figures reveal that over two million viewers were logged on to the live stream on the show's website.
Wendy Wallace was charged with psychological torture, but she disappeared before the end of the trial. A nationwide search was carried out, but there was no trace of her. It was as if she had never existed, or, as if she really were, as Carey had claimed, a witch or a devil. We sat in the warm interiors of our homes, shaking our heads at the thought that somewhere out there, the evil presence that had driven a talented young woman to murder her children and then kill herself, lurked. Then, we turned to our screens, hoping for distraction. It was the first time we had witnessed such a display of despair and destruction, and we were hungry for more.