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By chloebwabe Feb 24, 2014 951 Words
Family Life: The culture of the family. Chloe Watts
Family through the eyes of TV producers
In this present day it is rare that you won’t find a television in a family home. Even though most people do not consider television a major part of their lives, it is an inescapable part of popular culture. There are many modern programmes that represent the family life such as the Simpsons and Outnumbered (BBC1). These programmes show us what families look like and make us create an ‘ideal self’ for the different roles in the family. However, family representation on TV can create warped role models of each family member and delusional expectations on how parents should treat their children, how families should resolve problems and what an ‘ideal’ family is. ‘Outnumbered’ is a series that was aired on BBC1 which follows the daily chaos of family life. It’s based around a middle class nuclear family, two parents and three young children. It displays an honest portrayal of how challenging children and maintaining a good family life can be. It explores the everyday problems of fibbing, that scary first day at secondary school, and nits. The dad, Pete, works in an inner city school, where a typical school holiday sees five arrested, two become pregnant and one pupil shot. Meanwhile, Sue, the mum, is a part-time PA with a very demanding job. I feel a lot of families find enjoyment watching this programme as it is not only comical, but because they can relate to the characters and / or story lines. ‘Eastenders’ is a soap part of the popular culture that’s based on the family lives in Albert square. It shows a range of families ranging from adopting parents to traditional Muslim parents, which I think is rewarding as many cultures and religions are part of the British audience. It is built around the ideas of relationships and strong families, with each character having a place in the community. This theme encompasses the whole Square, making the entire community a family of sorts, prey to upsets and conflict, but pulling together in times of trouble. The producer said, "We decided to go for a realistic, fairly outspoken type of drama which could encompass stories about homosexuality, rape, unemployment, racial prejudice, etc., in a believable context. Above all, we wanted realism" I do agree with this, however due to the consistent tragedies such as car-crashes I feel the series becomes a bit predictable and the realism can be decreased greatly. The show has been criticized greatly for bad representation of family life and the programme stands at the most complained about programme on the BBC. I feel in my opinion that they have an unbalanced representation of positive and negative storylines, suggesting that all families encounter tragic events on a day to day basis which can have a bad influence on family viewers by influencing them to act in this way to be part of the social norms presented. I feel the series altogether has carried constant sensitive and negative themes such as murders, rape, child abuse and adultery and has therefore put a negative label on families as well as creating an unrealistic community. Lauren is one of the teenage characters in the series. We have watched her on our screens sleeping around, being highly abusive, committing crimes and over drinking. She is seen as a representation of other teenage girls around Britain and can be seen as a role model which has caused many arguments. The character of Lauren has created a warped ‘ideal self’ for teenage girls and parents could argue she is a bad influence. Another popular programme that explores family life is ‘My strictest parents’. The programme follows unruly teens that temporarily move in with a strict family abroad that they don’t know. It sends some confusing messages about parenting, bouncing between binary positions, (no control and extremely strict). The troubled and/or spoiled teens are shown drinking, smoking, lying, sneaking around, and disrespecting adults. A parent viewer of the show argues, ‘I believe there's too much drama to actually believe the kids are taking it seriously. I don't believe psychological issues and drug problems can be solved in one week.’ Another parent viewer argues, ‘I feel the parents are most of the cause of the bad behaviour and should be getting help instead of the children.’ The show makes it clear that boundaries are needed for teens and that without them families can be displaced and problems can be created. Some parents that have watched it for inspirational guidance on controlling their teens have argued that it has been of no help as they would never consider sending their children away to unknown families when they misbehave and see it as an impractical and ‘accessorized’ method to provide drama on the programme. Teens generally come away from the ‘experiment’ with a different perspective about their parents and their own behaviour, however with the strongly clashed parenting styles alongside the dramatic and extreme levels of bad behaviour, family viewers can find it hard to take it seriously and may not be convinced on the realism of the programme. In conclusion, many programmes airing on television show false and misleading representations of families in the British and other cultures. The stereotypical families have changed overtime due to beliefs and expectations of social roles changing. I believe that family representation on TV can be rewarding and helpful to watch but can also cause many problems as research suggests. Word Count: 938

Research Evidence:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/EastEnders http://www.comedy.co.uk/guide/tv/outnumbered/ http://www.cmt.com/shows/dyn/worlds_strictest_parents/series.jhtml

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