Monday, 14 March 2016

Tired of toxic Tracy

(This post was originally posted by Graeme N on the Coronation Street Blog in February 2016.)

I'm afraid I am back on my soap box again today. Following yesterday's blog where I got a lot off my chest about the current state of Corrie I can't help but do a follow up and this time I'm singling out Tracy Barlow. I really cannot stand this character and I think it is time she departed. I don't really care how, I just want her gone.

The loyal Corrie viewer has had to suffer Tracy on and off for years now and the situation is becoming increasingly desperate. I see the character as someone the storyliners can turn to when they need a cheap ratings boost or someone to create some ridiculous dramatic tension in the break between double episodes on a Monday or a Friday. Tracy is reliably unpleasant, vicious and nasty. Most soap operas need a smattering of characters like this but more often than not they are short lived.

However Tracy Barlow has never really had her comeuppance. Forgiveness is something she receives far too easily from those around her, no matter how vindictive or heinous her crimes. It just doesn't ring true and it's certainly not what Coronation Street used to be all about. She's turned into a low grade pantomime villain only sadly she doesn't even throw sweets to the audience. Tracy is just out and out vile. Other characters in Corrie have their moments - Leanne has been an arsonist, a prostitute, a drug addict and a gobby little mare, but the skill in the characterisation is that she survives because she can and has changed. It actually enriches the character. Sally too can be downright rude, spiteful and unpleasant yet we all sided with her when Kevin did the dirty and we longed for Tim to turn up and marry the woman.

With Tracy however there is no light and shade. There is no real humour, no humanity and any vulnerability is short lived or nondescript. Because Tracy is always so rude, so abrasive and so on the attack, it is virtually impossible for the viewers to understand her, like her or feel for her. It's as simple as that. 

Ken, who was always less sympathetic towards Tracy that Deirdre, still forgives her every indiscretion and allows her, when she is nearly forty, to continue to clog up his house with all her endless dramas. After Deirdre's death, Tracy promised to change and to honour her mother's memory. What was the point of that exactly as less than a year later it's like that little story arc didn't happen. We are expected to believe that Tracy is a decent mother, yet would she do all she has done if that were the case? The only saving grace chez Barlow at the moment is Amy's transformation into a mini Blanche. She is fantastic. 

As I wrote yesterday, the Tracy and Carla feud has been boiling away like a pan of overcooked sprouts for far too long. All taste and colour has gone and we're now left with a ludicious merry-go-round of rubbish. What it really needs is for Karen McDonald to suddenly launch herself at both pathetic women with the heel-end of her red stiletto. That would liven things up and show them how it should be done. There's just no spirit in these scenes anymore because anyone in their right mind would have brought this simmering hatred to a head long ago and moved on.


I'm afraid I blame whoever took the decision to release Tracy from prison back in 2010 on a technicality designed to boost ratings. Nevermind doing the time for bumping off the gorgeous but menacing Charlie Stubbs, Tracy should have been left to rot for all eternity for performing that rancid dance in the lead up to whacking him one. My retinas are still in recovery.

I honestly don't know what you'd do to salvage a character like Tracy now. Too much water has gone under the bridge. My only suggestion is that we revert to what happened periodically in the 1980s and send her upstairs to listen to her tapes. Either that or...

 You can follow me on Twitter @GraemeN82

Deirdre: A Life on Coronation Street - official ITV tribute to a soap icon. Available here.

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