Listening to The Archers omnibus this morning, I found myself getting increasingly incensed by the appalling mothering of Kate and loony behavior of pregnant Helen, having a right old go at a bewildered Tony, as she threw her metaphorical steriliser out of the pram (and since I imagine she plans to breastfeed, I was confused that she even bought one, especially since it sounded, via radio, to be bewilderingly huge). I even tweeted about it.
Then a friend, and fellow omnibus listener called, and said how cross she was that the writers are ‘presenting women facing difficult choices’ as being so crap and so mad. ‘Oh bloody hell yes, it’s not real,’ I reminded myself hastily, and deleted the draft emails to Social Services.
So I contacted the Diva of Archers blogs, Qwerty, (and the reason, after a ten-year absence, that I even listen to the show again) who gave me permission to trespass on her regular Pauseliveaction patch and have a rant. Please bear in mind I’m not as regular or attentive a fan as her.
But this morning, after pausing for thought, I did feel my friend has a point. Helen and Kate are characters created by the writers of the Archers, and hells teeth, if you cease to be annoyed by how whiny, selfish, narcissistic, passive-aggressive and ghastly they both are and remember we are hearing the voices of actors, speaking lines written for them, you do start to wonder if there is some misogyny afoot.
The character of Helen (or ‘Hell-en’, as Qwerty calls her) is pretty unrelentingly unlikable. Could we not have an over-arching storyline about either her, or single parenthood, that does not start from the basis that someone choosing to have a baby on their own is not stark staring bonkers and thoroughly unpleasant to boot?
I know this is supposed to be a traditional, conservative rural community, but I’m still hacked off that, when Brian Aldridge brought home the child of his dead mistress, Jenny not only had to put up with the humiliation, she also seems to do all of Ruairi’s childcare.
Then we’ve got the gruesome Kate, the most careless mother in the world, leaving her offspring willy nilly across the globe, all of whom are distraught at her inability to keep her children on one continent at the same time.
Come on Archers writers, will you stop writing storylines that kick women in the teeth? Can we muster something good, positive, constructive? If you need a really good example of a show where women, and particularly older women (Candice Bergen as Shirley Schmidt), are written fabulously well, with lots of character, lots of power, lots of sex and chutzpah, go and watch Boston Legal. Then do please, buck up.
Posted by Inkface (more Archers reviews/rants here)