Gritty sagas by Corrie blog editor Glenda Young, published by Headline. Click pic below!

Saturday, 23 May 2020

Five Things We Learned In Corrie This Week

Issue is or issue ain't my baby?  In some ways, I feel sorry for ITV.  I long ago lost track of when these episodes should have been broadcast - roughly a month ago I'm guessing - but they undoubtedly lost momentum by having what should have been tight two-parters spread across an entire week.  Plus right now we're all fractious and miserable and locked in our homes with nothing but the telly to keep us going, so we're craving entertainment, not serious plotlines.  On the other hand, I had to put up with one of the preachiest, most miserable weeks of Corrie I have ever experienced, and I don't think you can entirely blame my dislike on Covid-19.

The problem with this week was it was all issues, all the time.  It was like being trapped in a room with a social worker and a very long and laborious Powerpoint presentation.  There's nothing wrong with tackling important social troubles; soap operas can do it very well.  The way they usually do it, however, is to introduce the issue via familiar characters so that we can empathise.  They provide a human face to what would otherwise be an abstract concept.  For example, the issue of trans people being legally prevented from marriage was something that touched the lives of hardly anyone in the UK, but when beloved Corrie couple Roy and Hayley were unable to marry back in 1999 it suddenly became real to ten million people.  The issue rose up within the characters' lives rather than being dropped on top of them.

This week didn't do that.  For scene after scene our regulars were confronted by outside characters who caused them to go away and think.  The doctor at the hospital telling Steve and Leanne all about Oliver's illness.  The women in Gemma's support group talking about post-natal depression.  The new bar manager.  It was hard to really take his racist insults seriously for a couple of reasons.  First of all, ranting about "snowflakes" and "triggering" is why ITV pays Piers Morgan lots of money to present their breakfast TV show so it's a bit galling to see the channel suddenly decide it's a bad thing.

Secondly, we know he's not going to be here for long.  He's not got a surname, he doesn't live in the street, he was parachuted in to be Bad Racist Man, so we can't really be bothered caring.  Back in the Eighties, Corrie did a storyline where Alf gave his shop flat to Curly instead of Shirley, even though she asked for it first, and the Street accused him of doing it for racist reasons.  That was a storyline where the characters debated and discussed, took sides, expressed shock and dismay.  This, on the other hand, is Bad Racist Man has turned up, and nobody will like him because he is Bad Racist Man, and he'll vanish soon enough.  He's not part of the show so who cares?

I'd have much rather seen a storyline based around the tiny examples Michael gave - people crossing the road to avoid him, or security guards following him round the shop.  The low-level, everyday pain of being a minority, the sheer irritating, tiring truth of it.  Imagine if Michael was standing outside the tram stop and got approached by kids wanting to buy drugs just because he's black.  Or James walking out of Wethy County, where he's an actual celebrity, and still being stopped by prejudiced police because they're "suspicious".  Or Aggie in the hospital tending to a patient who really doesn't want to be helped by someone who looks like her. It would feel so much more involving than Ed's huge, grandstanding speech in the middle of the Bistro, followed by every other minority member of the cast stepping forward to give a little monologue about prejudice.  It would have felt a bit more real.  And Ed realising hey, if racism is bad, then maybe homophobia is bad as well! was all too pat and convenient.

Also, just as an observation... if you're going to do this sort of thing again, Corrie, why not consider handing the writing duties to a person of colour?  Someone who's experienced this kind of thing in reality, rather than as an abstract?  Just a thought.

Oh, that was all a bit sensible and boring and miserable, wasn't it?  I have to work with the material I'm given folks.  Let's make the last four a bit cheerier.

Simon is easily bought.  With Oliver in the hospital, his half-siblings rallied round in support.  Emma and Amy went out and bought him a cuddly toy, which is especially nice of Emma, given that I'm not entirely sure she's ever been in the same room as Oliver.  Simon, meanwhile, purchased enough sweets to induce diabetes, plonking down a sack on the cafe table that would cause even an Oompa-Loompa to gulp in horror.  He then laid down a dare: if the girls paid him a pound, he claimed he could fit ten lollies in his mouth at once.  Be very careful with that sort of bet, Simon.  I made a similar claim once in a Berlin nightclub and I had to go to casualty straight afterwards because I'd dislocated my jaw.

Make it a night to remember.  Of course Evelyn took a tupperware to the dance; I wouldn't expect anything less of her.  Frankly I'm surprised she let everyone tuck in when she got back - I thought she'd have stuck them in the fridge to be rationed out, treating herself to one coconut pyramid a day until they start turning green.  But this is all a side issue to a question that was left unanswered by the show: did Arthur stay the night or didn't he?

In Monday's episode the two of them were cuddling up, and then next morning he was there tucking into tea and toast.  Evelyn said he'd come by early, but I have my suspicions.  It wouldn't surprise me if the saucy mare had snuck him into the front parlour for shenanigans and then played innocent when Tyrone smirked at her the next day.  She may appear to be prim on the outside, but underneath there's a right goer.

Like and subscribe.  Gemma went all modern this week, transforming herself into a vlogger before you could say "hi guys!".  She had decided to get her story out on the web, talking frankly about her post-natal depression, and if that works for her well done.  Personally I can't bear to watch vloggers - pasty youths banging on about themselves for eight minutes while their dead eyes bore into your very soul - but this is because I am ancient and I only go on YouTube to watch old adverts and drag queens lip syncing.  I'm sure young people will appreciate it and she'll be an influencer within months, unboxing packets of Pampers and powdered milk and giving her viewers a cutesy name while they hammer the thumbs up logo and insult one another in the comments.  Each of those quads will have its own Twitter account by the end of the year.  Gemma might want to lay off the Freshco criticisms though, as I'm sure their legal team won't be too keen to have a former employee lambasting them all over the internet.  She'll have to learn to be a much more adept corporate shill if she wants to get an invite to VidCon.

Gemma might also want to invest in some decent equipment.  I understand money is tight so she probably can't splash out on a green screen and a ring light but still, a tripod at the very least would be helpful.  Cathy's arm must've been killing her by the time Gemma got to the end of her monologue.

The Bistro is open for business again.  Ray returned to the show to launch the new-look Bistro, so I got to do one of my favourite things, which is inspect the new set for all the changes.  It looks like they've got rid of the enclosed booths on the far wall, which means they were probably a nightmare to film in, and they've thankfully also got rid of all those awful chalkboard puns that I absolutely guarantee were Michelle's idea.  It's a bit bland if I'm honest, and looks more like a bar than a restaurant.  Jenny will be furious if she gets back from France and discovers that they've abandoned the gentleman's agreement not to muscle in on the Rovers' territory and are going full boozer.  They've not changed the name, either, which is a shame, because it might've finally prompted the producers to reshoot the opening credits and get rid of the orange Bistro sign you can see there and which hasn't been accurate for about a decade.  Maybe it's going to get blown up again for the 60th anniversary so they're not bothering.

If you were affected by the issues raised in this week's episodes please don't contact me on Twitter @merseytart to tell me because I really can't be bothered.

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Sue said...

I seem to be the only person who thinks Ed’s monologue was quite powerful, I found it moving and well acted. I am not easily won over by Corrie’s stories and some people’s attempts at acting but I liked this episode.

Humpty Dumpty said...

For me, Ed's speech was a piece of theatre, as though he had come to the front of the stage and was addressing the audience. I don't think it was so much the speech as the way it was delivered/directed. Ed didn't search for the right words, didn't fight back any emotion, or perhaps apologise to his family for embarrassing them (or did I miss that). We seem to have these speeches in Corrie such as Gail's after Aidan Connor's suicide which can be entered for awards. Which is not to say that it wasn't powerful, just too eloquent for the occasion.

Anonymous said...

Ed's speech was too rehearsed and the actor performed it like he was on stage. I found all the Bailey scenes forced and preachy, and something about it just didn't ring true. That's not to say racism isn't an important issue, it is, but this just felt weirdly artificial. Doesn't help that I don't care about the Baileys as a whole.
Same with Oliver. We never see him, so why should I invest in him now if the show hasn't given me a reason to? The scenes with Amy and Emma worrying about him are laughable because have they ever shared a scene with Oliver? Like ever? The only positive thing I can say about Oliver's storyline is at least there are strong actors like Jane Danson leading it.
On the whole this week has been dreadful!
I'm sick and tired of being beat over the head with all these issues. I've had it with these short-lived issue based storylines that serve no purpose other than to educate. How about actual character driven drama for a change with a creative, engaging plotline? Lately so much of the drama has felt contrived and forced.

Tashacat said...

Anonymous 22.17. You have articulated my thoughts perfectly.

David said...

In my experience when people say they don't want issues what they really mean is they don't want issues that affect them. As for Ed's speech it was very moving and very effective, with racism on the rise it's the right time that the show addressed this.

As for trying to draw comparisons between Dan and Piers Morgan. I have no time for Morgan but there's a big difference between calling someone a snowflake and calling black people monkeys.

Anonymous said...

I agree with David in the first part.

Sharon Boothroyd said...

I agree Scott, the racism could have been played in a more subtle way.
I actually found the way Grace suddenly kissed Micheal more interesting than the great important sermon, but I like a bit of drama.
I must admit though, I agree that some of the plots are forced eg David going wandering onto a'sink' estate for the hell of it.
I find it unrealistic how Corrie portrays the residents of social housing, but there you go! For instance, there's a lot of bungalows on'sink' estates where pensioners live their lives pretty quietly.
Just as an aside (and if any Corrie bloggers can help) has the actress who plays Oliver's doctor also played a social worker on the street before?

Catsmom said...

This article reminds me that I've never been able to buy into Geoff Metcalfe being a spouse abuser. One thing I suspect Corrie does is, they want to cover a certain social issue & look around at the cast to see who would be best at portraying it. No consideration for how long the person has been on the show with a totally different personality. Just expect everyone to believe that easygoing Geoff is suddenly a nasty, manipulative, cruel abuser. I ain't buying it. I wish they'd wrap up that storyline & do it quickly.

coconno196 said...

Sharon Boothroyd: I don't remember this actress being in Corrie before, but she was in Casualty years ago, one of the many cast members who was killed off in spectacular fashion.

Sharon Boothroyd said...

Oh, many thanks, maybe I'm getting my dramas mixed up!

David said...

@Catsmom This may be shock you but people can put on a front. Also there were signs of his malicious nature, his sabotaging of Brian's plants, the story about what happened to Tim's dog, why he broke up with Audrey, why he got invovled with Yasmeen in the first place. Just because Geoff doesn't have EVIL stamped on his forehead, doesn't mean he isn't a nasty piece of work.

Catsmom said...

@David, you have a good point, I forgot about Audrey. I just think Geoff's personaility went from mildly self-centered to full-out psychopath.

Anonymous said...

Also, Catsmom, Ian Bartholomew admits he knew all along that this was the fate of his character when he joined the Corrie cast. Geoff was brought in to be "a slow burner". He would never have won Yasmeen over with his coercive behaviour if Geoff had been nasty from the onset

abbyk said...

I didn’t mind Ed’s speech when I watched it, but you’re right, it was just dumped on us in a few non-memorable bistro scenes. It happens every day and subtly; Ed would have been more sympathetic if we had seen some of it over time. Instead, for the year or so they’ve been on the street, the Bailey’s, like other minority characters, have been as homogenized as any other family. We’ve barely seen anything about Islam from the Nazirs; they’ve even got Yasmeen and Alya drinking alcohol. Maybe that’s normal in the UK but in the news there are stories of hate crimes from which they have completely escaped. Same with the Alahans except for the brief but brilliant skin lightening story. We’ve never seen wheelchair bound Izzy challenged by architecture or her able bodied little boy. Ed’s story would have been better if we had seen one home remodeling customers watch him like a hawk, had seen him lose bids to white contractors, maybe had him watch Aggy getting grief at the cafĂ© or on the town. None of that ever came up. All we really know is that he is an immigrant who had a gambling problem (which hasn’t tempted him lately), and she can’t cook.

Anonymous said...

I don't remember Geoff being with with Audrey, I thought she was interested and he chose Yasmeen. What did I miss David?


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