A few weeks ago I wrote of the depressing, low aspirational characters and plots of EastEnders, well over on Channel 4’s Hollyaoks things are markedly different – not only does almost everyone has a job but a high proportion of characters are successful business owners.
But just like in real life not everyone’s life is happy one. For the past 6 months or so teenage mum Amy and wannabe hoodie Ste have been surviving on a combination of child benefit, handouts and robbery.
Mark my words, if this were EastEnders they’d be the most celebrated characters in the show and never struggle for the cash to buy a pint in the Queen Vic but in the otherwise glossy world of Hollyoaks they stand out as self-deluding losers, struggling to cope with the consequences of a string of decisions.
Whilst other characters are finding the loves of their lives, winning starring roles in West End musicals and qualifying as a Police Community Support Officer these two struggle to find the money to load their electric pre-pay meter and share single portions of chips as a main meal.
The message is clear, running away form your nice secure home (at least in Amy’s case – Ste’s stepfather is a pretty brutal thug) to play happy families isn’t a lot of fun when you’re 16 and relying on state handouts. The lesson isn’t shoveled on but it’s there and it’s hard to miss.
The real surprise is that it’s the show which often starts with musical and fantasy sequences which has opted to tell this unglamorous tale and not the show which hides behind the cloak of social realism when defending lazy writing.