Saturday, August 12, 2017

Chawneys, Bad Teeth, and Other Elements of British TV

To combat the boredom of being housebound, after reviewing my work-related material until I can outline it from memory, I have taken up the hobby of watching Youtube videos.  I've discovered a world of Youtube sensations, some of whom are sensational only to me.*

I've also discovered an abundance of British programming and documentaries. I discovered The Jeremy Kyle Show, which has a bit of a  Jerry Springer/Steve Wilkos format but with a snarky British twist. Jeremy Kyle openly mocks the guests on his show. I'm curious as to how much Kyle's producers have to pay their guests in order to get them to humiliate themselves on national T.V. Plenty of people in the U.S. seem more than willing to do it practically for free, but I would expect the British on average to possess a bit more dignity than the trailer trash Jerry Springer/Judge Alex/Dr. Phil/ Judge Judy clientele. There was supposedly a time in the history of the U.S. in which a person could only be found humiliating himself or herself on TV on perhaps The Newlywed Game or The Amateur Hour. Then came The Gong Show**, and the rest was history. Programming in which people willingly air their dirty laundry and/or expose their two-digit IQs is probably more available now than is scripted programming. I'm not certain what if anything that says about our society other than that it's damned tough to turn away from a train wreck.

One of my Youtube discoveries was the British documentary series The Nightmare Neighbor Next Door.  It's an ideal series for Britain, because it seems that the British middle class lives in closer proximity to neighbors than does the American middle class anywhere other than in New York City.  Even though the British might, for the most part, conduct themselves with ever so slightly more civility than do their American or Aussie counterparts, proximity and familiarity would seem to provide an exceptional breeding ground for contempt. 
Where only in  the U.S. could a reality program be made featuring the repossession of cars, only in Great Britain could a quality program featuring neighbors hating on each other provide entertainment. If the "nightmare neighbor" concept were used as a reality TV plot in the U.S. or Australia, the warring factions would probably kill each other before any decent footage was obtained. Besides that, there's something about hearing neighbors rag on each other with snooty British accents that makes it all the more delectable.

It was while watching The Nightmare Neighbor Next Door that I discovered the Chawney Family. They were the first set of residents I saw whose neighbors turned on them in an ugly but understandable way.  The Chawney family featured two parents and their two twenty-something daughters. Their son -- older than his sisters -- lived elsewhere. The family had two dogs (one especially obnoxious pooch had an especially shrill and yappy bark that could be heard continually for most of the day and night; I'm not sure when the animal slept), two cats, and two birds.  Neighbors complained that the family members fought with one another constantly, that they yelled at their animals, that the animals made constant noise and that, on the rare occasions that dogs were taken out, no one picked up their poo. The straw that metaphorically broke the neighbors' camel's back happened when Emma, the older of the two daughters, decided to audition for The X Factor, and frequently practiced her singing in the street outside the family's home at 3:00 a.m. It was the twilight hour rehearsals that ultimately provided the ammunition for the neighbors to have the family evicted.

The video features Emma's initial appearance on The X Factor. She returned the following year. As a kindness to my readers, I will offer the caveat that the video might not be suitable for the pitch-sensitive among us***. I do not own the video and sincerely hope not to have affronted the video's owner by sharing it in this blog.

A both figurative and literal un-thickening of the plot came about when the family appeared on some British program focusing on weight loss and fitness for the morbidly obese. The combined weight of the four family members was at one time reported to have totaled either eighty-three stone or ninety-three stone depending upon which report one chooses to believe.. (A stone equals fourteen pounds. I'll allow you to do the math.) I'm not sure  how many different programs on which members of the family were featured, but they became quite the national celebrities of the "famous for being famous" ilk. I supposed they could be described a Great Britain's version of our Kardashians.

My viewing of The Nightmare Neighbor Next Door and other British programming prompted me to ask the age-old and oft-asked question of why it is that more British than American or Australian people appear to have unsightly teeth. I googled the topic. it seems that the British have become sensitive regarding what they see as a stereotype concerning the state of dentition among their population. Studies have been conducted [by Brits] recently, the findings of which have disputed the stereotype. Those who conducted the studies compared the teeth of Great Britain's middle class to the teeth of the U.S.'s present and former methamphetamine addicts and found the British teeth to be both cosmetically and structurally superior to those of the U.S. meth addicts. They concluded, therefore, that the popular perception equating British middle class with bad teeth is nothing more than a myth. Right.

In an equally scientific study conducted by yours truly in the days since my malleolus was fractured, I have viewed equal numbers of episodes of Supernanny (US) and Supernanny (UK) and have compared the teeth of those featured on the respective programs. The teeth of the British middle class truly are worse than those of the american middle class. In an equally scientific study, I consulted scholarly periodicals to determine that the families of the British royals and even the commoner families into which they married either are born with perfect teeth or have access to quality dental care including orthodontia****. 

Is there a shortage of orthodontists in Great Britain, or are there plenty of orthodontists there, and all of them starving because the general population does not give a hoot about having straight teeth? 

If a shortage of cosmetic dentists and orthodontists is determined to be the cause of the discrepancy, perhaps I should abandon the practice of medicine altogether in order to become an orthodontist somewhere in Great Britain, in which case I might soon become a billionaire. Then again, perhaps I should not. I would quite possibly starve because, rather than joining the world's ranks of billionaires,  I might not earn any money at all due to not being able to force myself to go to work because of the compelling nature of the television programming there.

*    Check out the Stormin' Mormon on Youtube if you get the chance.

**  My aunt dated a guy whose sister won The Gong Show by singing while doing bird calls, frog croaks, and other miscellaneous animal noises in the middle of her song. She was a talented and trained opera singer; the animal noises she just picked up on the sweet potato farm.  My aunt, the guy she dated, and another tuba player were supposed to appear on "The Gong Show" as a trio that played basketball and tuba at the same time (they used Nerf basketballs and threw them into the bells of each other's tubas), but one of the three of them was too hung over to travel on the assigned day, and the other two decided that the show didn't necessarily have to go on.

*** Seriously, I could barely tell what song she was trying to sing, and it's a song I and probably all of you know well.

****Kate and Pippa Middleton are not walking around with overbites or with gaps between their teeth. i know this because I checked it out in People and Us magazines, both of which are known to be erudite and authenticated academic works.

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