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it's not grim up north

There's a lovely article by the sometimes-annoying-but-not-this-time Johann Hari in the Independent about why he loves Coronation Street, entitled Why Coronation Street Fills Me With Pride. It's subscriber only on the website (bah), but it's definitely worth picking up the hard copy. He describes it as "one of the great artworks of our time, alternately profound and hilarious" before bringing up out the programme's exploration of class issues, and (correctly) compares it favourably to the bleak and boring EastEnders:
Indeed, Coronation Street and EastEnders offer politically-opposed ways of imagining the British working class. Coronation Street presents a socialistic community where people basically help each other out, and suffering is greeted with compassion. EastEnders offers a blackly Tebbit-flavoured vision where everybody is perennially poised to rip off their neighbours, and anybody who does show even a flicker of compassion - like Dot Branning - is invariably exposed as a dupe... I wouldn't want to make too much of it, but I think it's quietly revealing that Corrie's leftish vision is thriving, while EastEnders' vision of a society spiralling into mutual suspicion is languishing in the ratings...

Long before Hollywood congratulated itself on its mumbling gay cowboys, the Street had a resident transexual woman who - according to all the surveys - is one of the most popular characters with its overwhemingly working-class audience. While EastEnders' minority characters could be listed in the credits as "Token Black" or "Token Asian", Corrie's are just funny or warm or weird people, like everyone else in Weatherfield.

And that's why I like it. That and the fact that it's hilarious and charming and melodramatic. Seriously, everyone should watch it.


( 4 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 3rd, 2006 10:58 am (UTC)
I might have to go and pick up the paper becuase of this having read the snippet.

I've 'found' Corrie this year and now I am totally in love with it. I was always an Enders girl, and then suddenly about 3 years ago I just thought "I'm so bored of this show, I don't like anyone, I literally can't be bothered watching another second" and haven't switched it on since. It was the way it made me *feel* - bleak, depressed, empty.

Corrie on the other hand fills me with warmth. I love that it has a large cast of older characters (and they are 'characters'), I love Claire and Ashley who give a really strong portrayl of young marriage, I love the real community feel. The humour is well delivered, the emotion runs deep and more importantly, people try to do right as often as they can as opposed to Enders were making people suffer is always the status quo.

I think it is art, I think it's probably the gretaest television show in the World.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 11:12 am (UTC)
I agree, especially about the niceness and warmth and tolerance of the characters. I love how Frankie went - convincingly - from hating the poky little street to telling eccentric Roy he was always welcome to drop in to her house when Hayley was away (I love Roy full stop - can you imagine how nastily EastEnders would treat such an eccentric character? And Hayley would probably be a tragic victim rather than the factory's rather innocent voice of reason, well-liked by her more ribald co-workers). I love how even flighty silly characters like Maria or even the half-witted Sarah aren't bad people. Even the villains like Cilla are balanced by the decent characters. And I too love the older characters, who are funny without being pathetic. All this and it's funnier than most sitcoms. There's something fundamentally hopeful about the whole programme and it manages that without ever being sugary and sickly. It really is brilliant.
Apr. 3rd, 2006 11:51 am (UTC)
Exactly - in Enders, Roy, Hayley, Norrish etc. would constantly be threatened by a Mitchell or a Johnny Allen for being nice or weak or honest. Look at Ian Beale. In Corrie he'd still be an annoying twat but people would *try* to get on with him and probably never let him know that's what they thought (ie. Norris). There is no eccentricity in Enders, which is ridiculous becuase the East End is full if rich characters - they even did one of those docu soaps on it at one time.

Corrie is aspirational - it's both old fashioned yet in many ways ahead of it's time in what we need to get back to and strive to be.
Apr. 4th, 2006 10:53 am (UTC)
I'm a Johann Hari convert. He used to annoy me, then we just sort of clicked and now I read his stuff and sit and say "Hurrah, you are so right! Why aren't all columnists like you?". I think I like the way he looks at the world, which his Corrie column sums up perfectly.
( 4 comments — Leave a comment )


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