Monday, 15 June 2015

Let's talk about Simon

(Reposted from State of the Street with permission)

Let's talk about Simon Barlow, played by Alex Bain since 2008.

The lad is going to be 12 next month and has had more tragedy in his short life than most soap characters have in a lifetime. The only one even close to his tragedy level might be Carla Connor or Leanne Battersby but it's far more damaging to a child. The adults can be termed "survivors". I fear Simon is going to be termed "damaged". We've started to see him having anger management issues, no, let's call that Rampant Rage Syndrome (RRS), shall we?

We saw how trauma affected David Platt as he went through his teens and that was after only one divorce and an attempted murder. Let's have a look at the incidents that have happened to Simon, shall we?

At the age of five, his mother dies of cancer and his life is upset by having to live with a father he never knew, a father who was, at the time, a raging alcoholic who nearly burned down the flat with Simon in it one night. A raging alcoholic that interrupted the school nativity (and it would prove not to be the last time that happened).

His father, Peter, gets together with Leanne who mothers the little boy but then Peter's drinking drives her away. Lost mother #2. Ah, but Leanne is eventually persuaded to return because Peter has stopped drinking.

The tram crashes and Simon again nearly dies in a fire, trapped in Number 13 but is rescued by Jason. Peter nearly dies in the tram crash. It's touch and go for a few days but he and Leanne marry in hospital. Ah, but Leanne had been having an affair with her ex-husband, Nick and Peter finds out after Nick has been manipulating Peter into drinking again. Peter chucks out Leanne but she ends up being persuaded to stay after all. Simon probably thinks Peter has installed a revolving door at the flat by now.
Simon meets his maternal grandparents. You might think that's a good thing. Except after Peter's alcohol problem surfaces again, the grandparents try to take Simon away from Peter. They take the lad to Blackpool but when he overhears that they won't take him home again, he runs off and finds his way back on his own. Grandparents back off, never to be heard from again, and Peter stops drinking again.

His beloved Grandma Blanche dies.

Peter and Leanne are back together. Leanne gets pregnant. Yay! Leanne miscarries. Oh no! Peter starts an affair with Carla which comes out during a trial where Carla is has been charged with murdering her rapist, Frank. Leanne leaves again. Carla moves in. Leanne is determined to have custody of Simon because Peter is unstable and Simon hates Carla. She is also reconciled with her ex, Nick. Simon doesn't handle the conflict very well and gets hold of a bottle of wine that Carla sneaked in the house. Well, booze is always how his father handled anger and upset, right? Wakeup call for Peter who allows Simon to be with Leanne.

Simon grows to love Nick but he nearly dies in a car accident and is suffering brain damage that makes him tempermental. Leanne and Nick break up. Simon has lost another father figure.

Simon is bullied by Faye and Grace.

He meets another grandma, Stella, who nearly dies in a car crash, nearly dies in a fire and then leaves town shortly after his great-grandma Gloria. 

His Grandpa Ken left Weatherfield for a year and a half.

He even had a pet rabbit that died.

Simon eventually gets over his hatred for Carla though she's never his favourite person. Peter and Carla marry and Peter starts an affair with Tina shortly after. This doesn't bode well. Simon becomes very close to Tina who is helping out Carla (both before the affair and after it) by babysitting and hanging out with Simon who grows to love her. Tina is murdered and his father is arrested and goes on trial for her murder. Peter's affair with Tina and the stress of juggling two women have him back in the bottle again. When Tina is murdered, Peter is jailed and goes on trial. Peter loses Carla in the process and though he's found innocent, eventually, he leaves Weatherfield to start fresh. Simon has now lost his father.

Leanne takes up with Kal and he moves in. Simon grows to love Kal. You guessed it. Kal dies in a fire (this time, at least, Simon is not trapped in the fire!)

His anger is starting to be difficult for him to handle. He's lashed out once so far, throwing a tv remote control at Leanne's face after Kal's death. According to the spoilers, he's going to be held hostage with Leanne by one of her former clients (from when she was a hooker). He's also about to lose his beloved Grandma Deirdre.

All this in about a 7 year span of his young life. Fans complain that the powers that be don't seem to have Simon acting his age. He's crayoning cards for people, he's clinging on to them for dear life. Can you blame him? He's not had much of a childhood, he's probably experiencing a severe case of arrested development and I wouldn't be surprised if he hasn't already started picking the wings off insects for fun.

What's down the road for Simon? Will someone ever take that lad to get counselling? Will he surpass David Platt as the town tearaway? A child with that much anger already is doomed. I fully expect a storyline dealing with teenage alcoholism or drug abuse in Simon's near future. There is a genetic predisposition for addiction and with the things that kid has had to deal with, he's a prime candidate.

Time will tell.

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abbyk said...

There's one more trauma -- finding out Peter isn't his biological father. Thanks to his new friendship with Zeedan, you can see how much they look alike, skin and hair wise. It seems pretty clear that this young man is not the son of two Northern European parents. Even if they did a dna test, they can find some way to show that he isn't who he thinks he is. The good news is that Alec Bain is a terrific actor. With everything else he's been through, I think he could carry off Simon's loss of identity brilliantly, with the support of a mother and grandfather who stick by him no matter what, and a spiteful aunt and cousin who never stop stirring the pot. He may fall and never get up but it will be a compelling story to watch.

Llifon said...

He's very much a child version of Ken who lost his mum, brother, nephew, first wife, dad and second wife in 16 years.

He later lost his daughter and is on the verge of losing his third wife. He also lost custody of son Daniel.

Humpty Dumpty said...

I'm intrigued to see how Simon deals with the brief reappearance of his father for his grandmother's funeral.Yet again, he will be throwing his arms around an adult's waist. A very effective move if done sparingly. Unfortunately, the directors have allowed the actor to do it too many times.

Peter isn't going to hang about, though I wish he would, and his departure might be the final trigger for the domestic abuse storyline. Btw, I reckon Alex Bain is a terrific little actor. It's a shame he doesn't always the get the appropriate material.

Anonymous said...

You also forgot that he was good friends with Maddie who also died in the fire and that it was her who got him to speak for the first time when he went mute after Tina died.

Scott Willison said...

There's also the problem that his voice has started breaking. Puberty is hitting him young, it seems.

Laura said...

Well, let this be a lesson to us all - no pet rabbits!

Anonymous said...

Interesting that on the same page is a summary of a character from the past, Miss Elsie Tanner. One can't help compare. Elise's character arc, though over a longer period, is much better thought out. Simon's is chaotic, random and has a quality of Chinese Whispers. The pace is so frantic and variable that we cease to care what happens to Simon. I hope Alex Bain has the sense to bail out of the role and take on the more memorable roles his talent deserves.

Sophie Bird said...

When will the son of Peter and the blonde florost discover that his real father is Lloyd?

Tvor said...

Oh for heavens' sake. and how do we know that Lucy was a natural blonde anyway?

Anonymous said...

Sorry Tvor. It's not just Simon's hair colour that makes his heritage up for question. Ignoring it won't make the subject go away, although that appears to be what TPTB have tried to do.

Anonymous said...

Who cares what he looks like? He's more talented than a whole lot of them who IMO are showing up for a paycheck with no talent to back them up. I could list a whole bunch of character in this show who IMO should be shown the door but I won't.

Anonymous said...

What does it matter what the young actor's racial heritage is? His dark hair and eyes are sufficiently similar to those of Peter Barlow that I don't see any problem with the casting. If we start insisting that cast members have similar ethnic backgrounds to those who are portraying their relatives on the street, the talent pool is going to become very small, very quickly.

Anonymous said...

Oddly, he was a much better actor when he was younger. They really need to get him in some classes now.

Anonymous said...

Racial identity is a touchy subject.

Sam Scarecrow said...

Have to agree with some, if not all of the above posts. Of course an actor's ethnicity matters - you cannot have someone say of Chinese parentage playing the natural son or daughter of say, Indian parents its daft.

In my opinion Simon was a cute and very good child actor but as he has got older he has became rather strange and for me, not particularly likeable, so its hard to feel sympathy with him.

He should have stayed with his millonaire grandad George, who wanted to give him a better life but silly Simon ran away, back to his family and all the upheaval that brings. He is soon to have more trauma with grandma Deirdre's death as well.

Anonymous said...

Sam - of course, in a case such as you describe, ethnicity matters. However, my point was that, if the actor's general appearance fits in with those who are portraying his or her natural family, their actual ethnic makeup doesn't matter. For example, Chris Gascoyne could play the role of an Italian or Spanish person, although he may not be either. Alex Bain is close enough in appearance to his on screen father that the details of his actual ethnicity are not relevant and do not have to be incorporated into the story.

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