On Tuesday night, an episode of EastEnders aired that I had written. In the opening scene Mick Carter (Danny Dyer) was jet-washing graffiti off of the Queen Vic doors, which read "POLES GO HOME". As some of the market stall-holders looked on with disappointment, Konrad, a Polish shop owner remarked "this is the Britain we live in now", and not an hour later, amidst mostly positive feedback, I also got a slew of angry Tweets.
It's important for me to mention that I am not speaking on behalf of the BBC or EastEnders here. These are entirely my own views on TV drama and why it's important for us to reflect real experiences on screen.
I really don't care whether you're a fan of EastEnders or not. It's not everyone's cup of tea, and that's fine. Personally, I grew up watching it. It's been a part of my life for it's entire, and remarkable thirty two years, so to write for it has been an absolute pleasure.
Whatever your view, I think it's pretty clear that EastEnders has always tackled challenging topics. In the last two years alone, Lee Carter's mental health story, Stacey Fowler's postpartum and the Linda Carter rape storyline have all been praised by charities and organisations for bringing an awareness to a larger audience and tackling those stories correctly and in a real way. It's been doing this for three decades now.
Of course, the go-to about EastEnders is that it's "depressing", because it verges more on social realism, has a more grounded tone and a subtler, more southern humor than, for example, Coronation Street (which I am also a fan of) -- a show that is louder and more colorful in many ways.
It's the social realism part that drew me to the show. It balances being a soap and those larger than life stories with more topical, day to day stories -- ones like you saw last night.
It's easy to get defensive, but I think there are darker forces in the world right now, so where does it get us to spend all day fighting each other?
As I mentioned on Twitter, that story was rooted in reality. That's how the main soaps generate a lot of their stories. A diverse array of writers, from all over the country get together with their story team and producers on a regular basis and they talk about what they're seeing.
Now, more than ever, in a divided world, it is the job of artists, of writers, of TV comedy and drama, not only to entertain us, but to reflect the things happening in our world, on screen. To show us not only what is familiar, but also wildly different. To reflect the lives of people who are underrepresented, so we can understand those who we didn't before.
If getting a brief glimpse into the mind of a man struggling to find his place in the country he lives in makes you uncomfortable then perhaps you needed to see it.