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Saturday 15 February 2014

Unsympathetic Street?

Along with the bad weather, a wave of harshness seems to have swept across our favourite set of cobbles. Or has it? There was a robust conversation on these very pages earlier in the week in respect of the usually lovely Fiz who has now been cast as some glowering harridan. Alongside her we have, ladies and gentleman, the not-so-lovely anymore Rita (bitter, sad, doddery), Michelle (face like a war, arms like a windmill in a gale force wind), Gloria (plain nasty), Tina (trollop), Beth (hard-faced), Tracy (Tracy), Todd (malevolent), Anna (hand-wringing temptress with a tea towel) and on it goes. My point is this; are we, lovely fan community that we are, being a bit too hard on the good folk of Weatherfield?

Fair point, Fiz has been a bit of a grump of late but she has cause to be. Remember too who her mother is and we all now how wonderfully reasonable Cilla could be. The apple usually doesn't fall far from the tree. The same could be said of dear old Tracy. Take a look into her murky gene pool. Anyone remember Deirdre back in the 1970s? OK, she wasn't a ornament-toting murderer but she could be quite hard. As for Ray Langton, well he could be a nasty piece of work and was often free and easy with the snide comments. Then there's Blanche. It's not difficult to see that Tracy luv's character traits are inherited.

Rita also seems to have reverted to type again of late. Admittedly, she's never been one of my favourite characters but the rather uncompromising character we see now is a throw back to the Rita of thirty or forty years ago. She too could be a selfish and at times, snide piece of work. Some of her Mavis-related put-downs were particularly vicious.

Maybe it's a case of the writers reconnecting with the characters as they used to be. Possibly we have become more used to their present day personas and are being a little hard on the 'back to basics' reboots. Whatever the cause, it doesn't feel as though there is a great deal of connection with the characters at the moment. While no one wants a Street drowning in sepia-tinted memories of yesteryear, I do wonder whether the days when we truly cared about the likes of Hilda, Annie or Eddie have gone. With the exception of Roy and maybe Leanne (when she's not having one of her Munch-face weeks), it's difficult to be bothered.

Are the Corrie cast being drawn as a particularly unsympathetic bunch or are we, as devotees of the show, being a little too critical?

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Anonymous said...

First of all, let me say that you have described Michelle perfectly: "Face like a war"!

I think one of the problems with the current crop of unpleasant characters is that they tend to be one-dimensional. It used to be only Tracey who was like that. I was thinking about this with the recent transformation of Peter. In spite of all his previous bad behaviour, I used to find him more interesting as a character because he tended to be conflicted by his behaviour (breaking up his marriage to Leanne, and even his betrayal of Shelley in the bigamy story). In the current affair with Tina, he seems to have no remorse, conflict, or even any thought for Carla (his great love) at all.

Newfy Pearl said...

I think that when I watch the shows I feel content. Then I come here and I see characters and situations picked apart and start to notice things as well. Sometimes I agree, sometimes I do not.
I do find that as in life negativity breeds negativity.
The show would be so boring and unrealistic if everyone acted in a perfectly scripted way to every situation.
Imagine if Tina just went to London with a fond farewell and nothing else. But how we loathe her when she lies to an old woman who thinks she is staying just for her. How we hate her for accepting Carla's overtures of friendship while having designs on her husband. How we cringe when she is in bed with Peter Barlow. (I have to say I laughed when he was trying to set no strings attached - let's see how it goes boundaries and she said yeah for now. lol Wasn't Carla the same way when cheating on him with Leanne.....but we know how that turned out.)
Anyway...I think we would enjoy the show more if we expected less and just go where the story takes us. This dissecting of characters and moaning about storylines really does take away the least that is what I find.
I would rather come here and read positive remarks than I alone in this?

Anonymous said...

I think people come here to have a free and open discussion of one of their favourite shows, with everyone entitled to their opinion. It is natural for fans to discuss the characters, the stories and the writing. If the discussion were restricted to only positive thoughts it would begin to sound more like an ITV press release than a fan forum.

The only thing that really bothers me on this blog is when commentators personally criticise others for having an opinion different from their own, rather than just disagreeing with their opinion.

dave said...

I have to agree with your assessment of Rita. I've been watching some classic Corrie lately and she hen pecked Len constantly, while some of it was well deserved, a lot of it came from nowhere. She was also pretty relentless with her put downs toward Mavis. She thrived on being head hen in that Kabin. What seems surprising to me about Rita's recent behavior is that she's hell bent on stifling Dennis' creative talent and aspirations much the same way Len did hers.

Humpty Dumpty said...

First, I want to say how disappointed I've been with the writing recently. If you threw your husband out one night and relented the next, wouldn't you ask where he'd spent the night? Would you go for a celebratory meal at the same restaurant where your love rival works? Even if Dennis lied about where he was (maybe he did, and I didn't catch it), the former Rita would surely have gritted her teeth and pretended she knew all about it when Gloria came to gloat. Another plot device to lay the way for Dennis's exit.

As for criticising the show, I like to think I have a critical eye rather than a negative one. When I started watching Corrie, it and I were both young. I was more inclined then to only get involved with the characters and less analytical about soap conventions etc. We hardly knew the actors at that time so we can blame recent Corrie producers and the publicity machine for now making us so aware of every wrong turn. If you read the spoilers, and perhaps some fans on here don't, it really annoys you when you learn that Andrea saves the catering and then on the programme she isn't even seen. A small example and there are lots more if I took the time to rake them up.

Without wishing to sound arrogant, I think there are two kinds of fans. The ones who watch Corrie like they would a sitcom, taking things at a fairly superficial level. They're the ones who think Tracy is hilarious. For the others like me, she shouldn't even be on the Street having killed someone and got off on a technicality. I hold my hands up to the accusation, should it be levelled, that I'm a Corrie nerdy. Guilty as charged. But then read the fan blogs for Dr Who and Sherlock, and see there how the fans dissect each episode, complaining and explaining when things aren't right. Plenty of football fans tear their favourite team to shreds, but they still love them. Same with me and Corrie.

Anonymous said...

Well said, Humpty.

- from a fellow Coronation Street nerd

Anonymous said...

If I wanted to watch characters getting killed off on a regular basis I'll watch EE. Corrie is really lacking IMO and there's not much substance lately. I find it mostly annoying so I guess that's that.

Newfy Pearl said...

Speaking of Eastenders...they have a Tracy Barlow. Her name is Janine Butcher...and guess what? She committed murder and got away with it. She leaves the street for a while and comes back to wreak more havoc. lol
Actually last count - she killed two people.

Anonymous said...

It's true that the old Corrie had its share of nastiness, gossips, betrayals and scapegoating -- I've been watching the old episodes as well and mostly enjoying them a lot. Remember how the entire neighborhood turned on poor Stan Ogden for being the peeping Tom without a shred of credible evidence other than the fact that he got caught peeking through the window of his own house because he was worried about his wife Hilda being alone in the house while the Peeping Tom lurked about? Those 'so called' neighbors and friends whom he drank with, did business with were ready to string him up! And then the REAL Peeping Tom was reported caught...

Anyway, the current WAVE of nastiness is a product of bad, lazing writing and an insatiable appetite for ratings a la EE style. Why all this nastiness ALL at once? And so in-your-face and over-the-top? It's a nastiness that hits you all at once in the face and isn't clever at all. At least Rita's digs at Mavis was clever and on the funny side. It was sharp but also you got the feeling deep down she did care about Mavis.

Canuktuk said...

First and foremost, this is a public forum where people are entitled to express their opinions and shouldn't be chided for saying things that might conflict with someone else's views.

I agree that this would be an incredibly dull forum if everyone only wrote positive things. Whether you like it or not, the world of TV and the Internet are not all about sunshine and rainbows; it is most often about issues that raise discussion and debate.

Most importantly, we all have choices in life - if you don't like the tone of the posts here, stop reading them and walk away. It is not acceptable in a free and democratic society to tell others how to think, feel or express themselves.

Corrie is a beloved show and the evidence of that is in the criticism - if people didn't care, they wouldn't be talking about it and still watching. Those who criticize the writing and characters do so because we all know what this show is capable of; we've seen excellence and want it to continue, we see potential in otherwise one-dimensional characters and want it to be explored.

abbyk said...

As I understand it, the original premise of the show was the interesting stories found in the lives of ordinary people. Realistic people in realistic situations. Working class Weatherfield 1960 was tiny homes where mom wore an apron and made dinner, dad had a job but never made enough money, and teens ate with their parents and repaired their bicycles. Was it truly realistic, I can't comment, I'm not of that time or place. But it felt real. They sure seemed like the people next door. And that believability was the magic that worked.

What bugs me about Corrie now is when it gets too OTT. Right now, Maria, who has had very little to do, is probably the most realistic character in the cast. She's a responsible working mom, a loving partner to Marcus, a good friend to Fiz and she lives within her means. She had a great potential story, falling in love with her dear gay friend, and everything that entails, but we never got to see it. And we never got to see Marcus' conflict of wanting a family vs his identity as a gay man. All we got was one gag over a Christmas dinner and then it was dropped. In it's place, we got Stella and the toy boy, nice mom Sunita becoming a slut, the Rovers burning down again, nasty Norris, Jim trying to win over Liz by robbing a bank, thugs and the strip club, neighbor helping neighbor surrogacy, never-ending hi jinx with Tracy and Mary, et al. All plot and little feeling, in stories so far removed from the lives of normal people you can't identify with them.

I think it's getting better but it isn't there yet. Hayley's cancer story worked because it was fairly realistic and focused on the relationship, not the disease. Rita & Dennis splitting, Tina & Peter getting together the way they have, however, those are completely unrealistic and subsequently awful; they should have been thought through more carefully. Tracy is as shallow as ever. As long as they continue to stray into comic book territory, I'll continue to put my thumbs down and share when I can be civil.

Mary said...

Great comments everyone. I read them with a great deal of interest.

Anonymous said...

Interesting reads - I enjoy reading thoughts of everyone on this site - I wonder if the writers of Corrie have a look to see what we the viewers think. I don;t like to be negative but some of the latest episodes makes me shake the head. I would like to see more Tracy and Amy time, I think Tracy can now feel closer to Amy as she can have decent discussions with her perhaps that's what she has been missing she loves Amy but as an older child she can connect more and I hope we will see more their time. Rob may also be a blessing in disguise they might become a desent family unit. I also would love to see more Maria and Marcus time they seem to flit in and out of scenes.

Anonymous said...

If the writers are reading this blog, they sure aren't paying attention. It's all for the ratings. The death of a part time character in such a gruesome manner speaks volumes as to where their minds are. In the gutter IMO. The more ridiculous the storylines the better. Boring, normal couples don't make it very long on Coronation Street. Look at Clair and Ashley Peacock? Dull but you can't have everyone going off the rails all the time - it gets embarrassing to watch.

Anonymous said...

And these comments are from the fans? lol

Anonymous said...

Yes, they are.

Beth said...

I can't understand why people think that by airing our frustrations about the programme it's a negative? Have you ever read football forums? Whatever a team is doing good or bad the fans are there egging them on to do better. I feel that this is a similar type thing. Fans will still go watch their week in week out team even if they're not doing as good as they could. As a fan of Coronation Street this is the same for me. Likely I praise the show when it's on the up, when something is done well.


Currently we have one affair, one marriage on the rocks due to a meddling pensioner, another affair due to start next week, a broken relationship fragile but put back together - just. One bickering relationship with a colleague ready to jump into bed with the man any minute given the nod. And a creepy man making a move on a middle aged woman already in a relationship.

Now...... tell me that isn't really lazy thinking by the writers that they can't come up with anything but broken relationships and cheating and Corrie can't improve on that right now?

So, imho there isn't that much positive to write about, because I am also a Corrie nerd I find this is the perfect place to come to say what I love about my favorite street and what is currently driving me round the bend.

I'm not nit picking, I just think many of us care enough for it to be better.

Anonymous said...

Funny you should choose the word "unsympathetic". I've thought for some time now that the reason I enjoy watching Corrie less than I used to, is that there are so few sympathetic characters onscreen these days. In order to care what happens to individuals, they have to have something likable about them, some redeeming qualities to offset their faults. It's how we feel about our friends, and corrie sort of fits that description, even if it's a somewhat vicarious, voyeuristic relationship. I find that I care less and less what happens to most of the current cast. This is not good for the ratings, ITV!! If you want loyal viewers, most of the characters we watch, whose "lives" we invest our time and interest in, should have something worthwhile about them. With the possible exception of Tracy Barlow, (her current attempt to mother her daughter doesn't fool me for a minute!) no one is all good, or all bad, but we should at least be able to see the world from their point of view and empathize with their choices and decisions, even if we think they're completely misguided or flat out wrong. Lately I find very little empathy for many of the people on that street. They're either nasty, cruel, stupid or delusional. I blame the producer and the writers, but it's possible they're just "following orders" from the ratings hungry bosses. Whoever's to blame, they're going to lose viewers at this rate.
I've recently thought that perhaps the move to new premises had everyone there preoccupied. Hopefully they've settled in by now, and we should see improvement soon. Fingers crossed!


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