The depiction of teenagers on British television isn't offensive; it's hilarious. Its intended demographic spend their nights tweeting in hysterics about just how little these scriptwriters must actually know in regards to life as a young adult in East London or Peckham. No matter how many 'youf' dramas are created, television still struggles to create dramas that are relatable, being out of touch with the even the minor details such as what trainers a character should be wearing. The latest terrible foray into youth culture is Peckham based comedy Youngers, which is wholly reliant on the excessive use of 'bruv'/'bluds' in order to feign credibility. Meanwhile, EastEnders is doing its annual 'good-kid-joins-a-gang-whose-going-to-get-stabbed-this-time' bit. But why can't they ever simply ever get it right? I present to you; The 2013 Who's More Out Of Touch? Awards.
Now, I'm not about to pretend I'm Ross Kemp here. Yes, I do hail from Croydon (famous for rioting and not much else at the moment) but whilst others were out acquiring 'street names' I was usually in my PJs watching Spongebob Squarepants re-runs. I'm not adept in the habits of gang members, neither do I know what life is like 'on the streets' for a disillusioned youth. All I know is that its certainly not what is currently going on in EastEnders at the moment. Or maybe I'm wrong? Maybe kids really do sit around in their gang leaders living room, sipping cider and throwing bread rolls at each other?
It's that time of the year when EastEnders must fill their gang-related storyline quota. And just like last time, its the Jacksons who have lost one of their brood to the clutches of so-called 'street kids'. Bianca must now patrol the streets in search of her wayward son, but there have been some serious errors made in regards to the portrayal of an average East London gang.
For a start, they all appear to be squatters with no parents. That being said, their parents would probably be somewhat relieved to find their children would rather indulge in a cheeky can of beer rather than just smoke weed like they did in my day. I know there is only so gritty a show can be before watershed, but I can hardly imagine a gang milling around a derelict living room, knocking back 5% lagers for kicks.
Also, from what I recall, most gang affiliates lead a perfectly concealed double life. Gang members they may be but they are gang members with parents; and parents that would give them a right bollocking for staying out until afters hours. Those kids certainly wouldn't be giggling at Liam's 12 missed calls as they did on last Monday's episode; they'd most likely have had the same amount, accompanied by a few voicemails and a couple of threatening texts from a very angry mummy.
Then there are the so called 'gang members'. I simply cannot fathom why a gang would ever seek to recruit Liam Butcher. I know he wears a baseball cap and all, but seriously? He looks like a priority target for a oyster card/Iphone double mugging! And of course there was the ever-present underlying message that 'gang members just want somewhere to belong'. In reality, the majority of people I knew who were in gangs simply wanted easy money and everyone to be scared of them. But I guess that message just doesn't bode as well as the 'abusive father lets out living room to his son who only ever wanted him to love him' angle does.
Youngers on the other hand has been billed as 'Skins in the ghetto'. But unlike its predecessor, I reckon you'll be pushed to find a 16-year-old that actually relates to it. The clothing for a start was terrible. I have no idea what was going on with the get up Yemi was wearing, but all I remember thinking was that I'd somehow missed a memo stating this show was actually an ode to 2005 street fashion in Detroit.
Don't get me wrong, Youngers had its moments. I laughed out loud at the children keeping their eyes open during their mothers prayer (many an African adolescent has been there) but I couldn't help but wonder: how much does it actually cost to hire a woman with a decent Nigerian accent? It must be very much indeed, because it's a casting problem that never ceases.
I was impressed to see that the stars of the YouTube sensation 'Mandem on the Wall' had been scouted (and thankfully wore their own clothes by the looks of it) and the Jamaican food shop was a nice touch too. But of course this was all undermined by a local 'battle rap' competition. Surely kids can't be still doing that can they? People just post the links to their music on your Facebook wall now or tag you in a really rubbish video. What was with the whole 8 Mile spiel?
The only thing that could top this was Yemi telling his Nigerian mother "I've got to go out" with absolutely no explanation as to where, and her actually letting him! As if her response would have been anything less than "WILL YOU COME BACK HERE, JARE? OLOSHI BURUKU!". All in all, it was a good effort but I can't help but feel that the majority of teens are simply excited to hear the word 'spice' used on television.
VERDICT: EastEnders is most likely the rightful winner but maybe Youngers edges it, for the actual use of the word 'brap'?