Friday, September 4, 2009

I have another confession...

One you will find almost as disturbing as last weeks.

I watch 'Packed to the Rafters'.


Totally cheesy I know, but it has got me sucked in. Before I got to watch this weeks episode, I read a comment about it on Terrible Palsy's blog, which made me all the more keen to watch it and see what I thought.

This is what I think: I think they are on dangerous ground.

A few weeks ago they had the storyline about the mum (Rebecca Gibney) being pregnant and at high risk for Down Syndrome. What if the baby had DS? Would they keep the baby? Would they terminate the pregnancy? How would they cope? And then after a lot of emotional scenes it turns out - O look, the baby doesn't have DS after all. I know for the writers it is just a story idea that they think will get ratings, but how does this affect people watching who have lived this? Especially the ones who didn't get the convenient TV ending of everything turning out fine? And why not have the story idea (shock, horror) that your child does have DS and you love them to bits and they are a delightful member of your family that you wouldn't swap for anything???

This weeks story has been bugging me since I watched it. There is a new character in the show - Jake (Rachel's boyfriend) whose brother has Cerebral Palsy - which is fine - good actually for people with disabilities to be portrayed on screen. However the character isn't played by an actor with CP, but someone pretending to have CP. VERY hard to do that tactfully if you ask me...surely there are actual actors with CP out there that could have been used? The worst part of the storyline is that this character's mother is quite bitter and twisted. She comes across as very protective of her children, but in an aggressive, nasty way. Surely the media doesn't think that all us SN mums are bitter and twisted from taking care of our children and worrying about their futures? Why not portray her as a loving, caring mum just like the main character of the show?

The DS and CP storylines don't offend me, they do make me concerned as to whether the stories will be handled well, and whether they are realistic. But the SN mum being bitter and twisted - that I find offensive.

I am not bitter and twisted (not to my knowledge anyway). Hopefully I won't ever become bitter and twisted. So far I haven't met any other bitter and twisted parents. Most of us though are sick of stereotypes and prejudice in the community - and I don't know that these TV portrayals are helping.

Anyone else watch and have an opinion?

PS - I hope I haven't been offensive in any of these ramblings. If I've been out of line with anything I've said feel free to leave a rude comment - that I won't publish ;)


ferfischer said...

Hmmmm - We don't get that show, but surely I can watch it on the internet, right? Now I'm very curious! By the way, I have a whole handout/instructions on the brushing technique if you want to email me - colofisch at yahoo - I'll send it to you!

Big brother, Little sister. said...

Alison, I also watched this episode knowing that Kristian Schmid would play Jakes Brother who happened to have CP. I was keen to see how it was going to be portrayed after I spent the DS episode screaming at the screen and complaining about the fact that in "real" life things don;t always turn up roses but that necessarily is not a bad thing as such. I think it is a very valid point that yes someone who actually had CP could have been the "actor"
As far as the Mum goes, I really just thought gee I hope I don;t do that! lol I took more her stereotype as a single mother who happened to have a child with CP. Either way I agree that yes these stereotypes are very tunnel visioned.
I loved how Alex had a great sense of humour and very strongwilled- reminded me alot of Cooper in that respect.

Sarah said...

I have to say I was sitting watching the show as I always do and was quite suprised Jake's brother had CP. As soon as I saw him in the first scene though I just knew he was acting and not living with CP for real. I thought it was nice to acknowledge CP and all but felt the actor didn't really do it well at all, I was also thinking...couldn't they get someone that has CP to do this!

The mother was over the top, but have to admit I still can be...

The DS episode also made me cross thinking, in that the father thought it would be the end of the world having a child with DS. Thought it sent a bad message really. There is enough barriers out there for children/adults with SN's.

Belinda said...

I do watch it, however, we had friends pop over and it was quietly on in the background.

I don't think the show is as good since it's come back on. I knew the CP story was coming up and who the actor was, and was disappointed not to give it my full attention.

The male friend said isn't that what Archer has...

It also covered adoption and this male friend is adopted so Tues night was an odd PTTR night in our house.

My sister has recorded for me so I will watch properly over the weekend.

I didn't like the DS episode.

In a matter of weeks, the show has covered

Same sex relationships
Infidelity and getting back together(last season), etc: and things usually end up how they want it to iykwim. I realise it's just a show but things aren't perfect all the time for anyone, I'm sure? Not even the Rafters!

Alison said...

No wonder its the top rating show - we ALL watch it!

Good point Bron - maybe it is a single mum stereotype more than a SN mum stereotype - I'm sure all single mums like being portrayed as overprotective!

ferfishcher - I'll email you about the brushing stuff and see if I can find a link so you can watch it on the net.

n0thingbuteverything said...

Hhhmm, I don't watch the show, so can't really comment much. I think that profile raising has its place - I googled 'cerebral palsy' + 'packed to the rafters' after reading Jacqui's post and found a few forums where the question was being raised 'what is cerebral palsy anyway?'. I think that it's a good thing to get the subject out there. BUT I definitely agree it'd be awesome if such a popular show had chosen to hire an actor who actually had CP.

Anonymous said...

Agreed about the actor, it would have been much better to have someone who actually has CP.

It seems the show likes to tackle alot of topics which arent usually talked about on soapies. They have done abortion, DS, CP, HIV, unexpected pregnancy, MS (i think?)..

Most of the time they show as many different opinions on it as possible, in the DS episode the mother never doubted for a second that she wanted the baby whereas from the start the Father has been 'iffy' (with the risk to the mother and all, not just the DS episode).

I dont know if you are still watching but they seem to be turning Jakes mothers character around (maybe showing protective parents that its not the end of the world to give a child some independance). It doesnt seem to be purposely attacking CP mothers (after all, shes JUST as protective about Jake).

I quite like the show, especually the fact they are bringing to light some topics others programs wont.