According to my blog stats, there’s an awful lot of interest in Channel 4s new eye-opening series, The Undateables. Episode 1 aired last week, and the second installment appeared on our screens last night, provoking massive debate on Facebook, Twitter and across the web. As I wrote late yesterday, shortly after the show finished, this most recent Episode was just as TV worthy and interesting. But that’s not what’s been surprising me. What’s been interesting, for me, is the amount of media coverage out there which has suddenly changed its tune. Before the series started to air, nearly every journalist, blogger and writer across the world was either saying A) they didn’t want to judge the show yet because they felt that wouldn’t be fair (they were scared of upsetting people, which made a refreshing change for the media, I thought) or B) saying that the show, however it turned out, would come across as insulting to disabled/disadvantaged people. Thereby covering their arses nicely, seeing as no matter how the series turned out, someone, out there, would deem it as unnaceptable and morally wrong.
How very neat and tidy.
Well, guess what, if you haven’t seen The Undateables yet, it really doesn’t insult anyone; if you find it funny in a way which makes people around you stare and look concerned about what might be running through your head, then that only means the issue lies with you (although I have to admit that on any level the show is entertaining on a basic level — purely because it is so different to what we’re used to seeing on TV). What’s 100% more insulting is the way so many hundreds of thousands of people appear to be suddenly waking up and noticing that these people have desires, plans for the future and needs which they long to be met. I mean…I know that these people are somewhat unusual, and those in wheelchairs are hard to relate to if you’ve never been immobile — the same goes for all the other conditions covered — but surely it’s possible to understand that another human being thinks, feels and wants? or maybe it’s just me.
So what’s next for the future of TV and its new-found love of those who are different?
Here are my predictions. And don’t moan at me and say I’m taking the piss. I’m not, I’m just saying what might be on the way soon…
1) A TV show similar to Britain’s Got Talent/The Voice for disabled/disadvantaged people (who knows, maybe Shaine, Carolyne and Luke from The Undateables can be the judges? Luke shouting “filthy whore!” repeatedly would be bound to bring in a few million more viewers, I’m sure). I’m actually starting to find myself condescending after having written those terms so many times (disabled/disadvantaged people). Someone really needs to come up with a new way of referring to those in this position. I have no doubt that when they do it’ll immeditely trend on Twitter.
2) A US crime drama about someone with a disability who…wait…turns out to be the killer! Pat on the back for being daring, US.
3) Some kind of debatable MTV show which uses the classic Pimp My Ride formula on wheelchairs, making them super-powered cool-machines which are much more pleasing to the General Public and thus infinitely more wasy on the eye.
4) A rock super-group put together by Simon Cowell and his cronies; one which has a varied range of D/D people wowing the audience. Or a Westlife-style group of similar ilk. Or,yes, a One Direction-style group. And on, and on, and on…
5) A new Channel 5 show coming soon: Gays In Wheelchairs — and that’s not me thinking that would make a good name, that’s me thinking in the mind-set of a ratings-hungry on-his-or-her-last-legs TV executive (or maybe even Big Gays In Small Wheelchairs?). That’s definitely a subject that hasn’t been tackled yet. And, no, I’m not talking about Glee — I’ve seen it and the wheelchair lad is just a normal teen who loves music — I’m talking about a series devoted to clashing disability and homosexuality together culminating in the most explosive drama result possible. Let’s just hope no TV exec reads this post and steals my ideas. It’d put me in a really tricky moral position as to whether I ought to accept royalties or not.
6) New-style wheelchair celebrities. It’s a matter of time until the media swoops on this exciting trend.
7) A wheelchair stuntman for the mainstream. Simon Cowell will probably be behind this too, no doubt.
8) An advertising campaign coming to a billboard/bus-shelter near you which features, wait for it, D/D people, thus challenging and daring the General Public to imagine that different can be beautiful as well!
Want to read a novel about these issues? My novel — which I may as well say has been receiving great reviews, since I’m here — The Number 3 Mystery Book is available on Amazon UK and Amazon US. To get your paperback copy — new non-limited edition on the way — you can visit the website here.