Greetings and welcome to another of my television reviews and this week we are getting back to the channel 4 special ‘Benefits Street’. After the success of series one it’s no wonder that the gormless network executives have returned to this ‘poverty porn’ or as I prefer ‘Liberal middle-class guilt-assuaging show’ in this the latest edition we have moved from the terraced streets of Brum to the terraced streets of Stockton on Tees, this kind of television is an affront to our eyes let alone our intelligence. No matter how they dress it up or try to justify it we all know that the only reason to watch is to get that fix of feeling superior to other people in this case poor, badly educated people.
Having a cameraman follow you around for a couple of weeks will never do justice to the reality of someones life, then when the TV people are safely out of the reach of the guinea pigs comes the key component of the show, the editing. Even if it was possible why would anyone want to experience long term unemployment and the grinding suffering and depressive emotions it must bring up? It’s about watching the guinea pigs who are inevitably influenced by having the cameras follow them do the things poor badly educated people do namely drink,fight, and be raucous, so the N16 property owning Labour voting liberals can cluck and make some ostentatious comment about the conservatives or society in general while quaffing their pinot grigio like some modern Pontius Pilate washing their hands of all responsibility.
But once again the guinea pigs trump the TV people by showing that they have an undoubted sense of community even in the face of all their troubles they all have smiles on their faces and seem if not happy at least in good spirits(sometimes literally)The N16 set would kill for the true community spirit these people display rather than their own individualised prisons they have constructed. Having watched the opening episode of the new series we were treated to two tele-visual gems, firstly right at the start one resident whom I hope we get to see more of had written a poem and proceeded to give a reading, and while it was no Wordsworth it certainly had feeling. Truly such gems are what makes such awful TV worthwhile the second was an homage to Laurel and Hardy’s comedy performed by the local drug dealer in what I shall call ‘A trip to court’.
In conclusion this is yet another filler show of little to no real artistic talent it does nothing to push the boundaries of whats possible, it has a subject matter that is unpleasant and one I have no wish to ‘experience’ and is highly intrusive to the lives of the people it follows. For myself it certainly has some characters which could make it a passable filler and always bolsters my spirit about the proletariat and it’s inherent sense of community and tolerance if not in actuality then in spirit Marxism lives on! and on that note i’m off for a can of cider and a fag(cigarette).