Tuesday, 27 June 2017

In Defence of the Grooming Storyline

(This post was originally posted by Ruth Owen on the Coronation Street Blog in June 2017, reposted to this blog with permission.)

The grooming storyline has courted much controversy and will continue to do so, up to the point where
it plays itself out and the villains of the piece get their comeuppance. Some people feel that such a storyline, involving the abuse of young teenage girls and the manipulation of them by men, several decades older, should not find a place in a soap opera.

Why though, are people objecting to this particular storyline, when other controversial storylines are accepted without a murmur?

Coronation Street has never been shy of an issue - often issues which divide opinion. There has been surrogacy, assisted suicide, gender reassignment, clinical depression, endless affairs and betrayals, murders, attempted murders, domestic abuse, bigamy, illegal immigration, gambling addictions, child abduction, teenage pregnancy, stillbirth, sham marriage and the devastating effects of Alzheimer’s Disease, to name just some.
Each of these issues makes for difficult viewing, so why does the grooming storyline, in particular, cause so many to be upset?

Coronation Street must keep up with the times and though I’m sure that grooming in some form or another has always taken place, it is at the forefront of our awareness, because of the Rotherham, Rochdale, Oxford and other scandals, where vulnerable girls have been abused. And some boys too.

Maybe people take the view that soap operas should not tackle current issues, but that would leave the soaps much the weaker. It’s great to have the comedy and the conversations, but, in my view at least, it needs some grit, otherwise it would fail in its attempt to mirror, at least to some extent, real life. What keeps us watching is the fact that we can relate to happenings on the cobbles, to the characters, to their problems, their joys and their disappointments – all of which we, in our turn, at some point in our lives, experience.

Grooming is a fact of life. It is my view that producer Kate Oates is courageous in bringing this truth to our screens. Nathan’s manipulations and his cruelty, coupled with Bethany’s downright refusal to see the truth and being so obstinate, despite her family pointing out the reality, is not easy to watch. Nor is Sarah’s desperation at the possible loss of her child. Bethany has turned completely against her family. Her thinking has become so twisted and distorted that when Nathan has a ‘party’ Bethany agrees to his demands, even when it involves three of his ‘mates’.  A cigarette burn, too, is accepted as some kind of a show of affection. Nathan’s masterstroke is the proposal and the ring. Bethany is young and foolish enough to believe that it actually means something.

This storyline must be seen through. It would be false if Bethany suddenly saw the light and ran home to Sarah. Also, the after effects will be heart breaking and drawn out, once Bethany has finally seen the truth - as she surely will.
By Ruth Owen, twitter: @Ruth1722

Tvor @tvordlj on Twitter


Peter said...

I have no issue whatsoever with Coronation Street tackling tough issues - especially ones as relevant as this. However, a balance has to be struck between what is shown on screen and what is simply alluded to (in some form.) The storyline has been handled very well but some of the content has just been too much for a soap opera - in my opinion.

I applaud how this post was written and accept the points raised. It is a far better and more balanced piece than the terrible post on this storyline last week that simply blamed critics of the storyline as being old and irrelevant. I never want to read another post like that on this blog again.

Anonymous said...

it is a much more realistic storyline than all the murders and attempts that take place in this small community...the story is good, the acting is great and I look forward to watching this story play out over the summer

kib said...

As much as I detest the storyline, I agree that it has to be followed through. The perpetrators in this case should get their comeuppance in the form of death. I notice that comic relief has been used a lot, giving us a break from the horrors.

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