Saturday, March 11, 2017

I Blame the Parents - Review:- Thursday 09.03.2017 Part II

I wanted to watch the second part of Thursday's episode again - not because I thought it was particularly outstanding; Linda Henry apart, it wasn't. But because I thought about it during the day and came to one realisation. In all the storylines depicted last night, this episode - indeed, the awful youth storyline in particular, had everything to do with parent-child relationships and dynamics.

It was, at one time, brilliant and infuriating. Both episodes, as well, showed an amazing bit of subtle continuity.

My impressions:-

Sham Friendship, Sham Relationship:- Lauren and Whitney and Lauren and Steven. This segment encompassed both episodes. Lauren and Whitney's friendship is easily the shallowest friendship ever portrayed on the programme. Lauren had more depth of friendship with Lucy, she certainly has a believable friendship with Stacey at the moment; but her association with Whitney has always been a series of encounters where both girls talk at each other, each one not hearing what the other is saying, but talking at length about themselves.

Lauren and Lucy had known each other and grown up since childhood; Lauren and Stacey had the common denominator of Bradley - Lauren's brother and Stacey's first husband. Lauren and Whitney came on all of a sudden, in the wake of Billie Jackson's death, at a time when Lucy was away from Walford.

Lately, both girls have been in relationships which have been anything but easy. Lauren was constantly consulted and often put her two penneth in, unbidden, when Whitney was worried about the state of her relationship with Lee. Lauren would talk, and Whitney wouldn't listen.

Now, in the first of last night's two episodes, the two run into each other in the cafe. Lauren's moaning about wanting to go to work to get away from her child. The kid isn't even two years old, and she's bored to tears with him already. Whitney, on the other hand, is moaning about Shirley's continuous presence at the pub. Whitney, who has no ties to the Carter clan now, except for her unhealthy attachment to Mick, thinks Shirley needs to stay in her own flat and look after her own mother. She's affronted that Shirley has accused her of hankering after Mick, but methinks she doth protest too much, and Whitney, who - like Lauren - isn't the brightest lightbulb in the pack - doesn't seem to realise that Shirley is a licencee and shareholder in the pub and has every right to be in that business venue as much as she wants to be. In fact, she has more right to be there than the sloe-eyed Whitney.

Lauren admits that, even though Mick is "old", he has attractive eyes and doesn't think Linda is complaining. First off, Mick is anything but "old", and it isn't as if either of these women are particularly young - certainly not young in the way that Rebecca and Louise are supposed to be young. Whitney is 25, and Lauren will be 24 this month. Secondly, I daresay Linda would have a lot to complain about when she finds out that Lee was made to leave Walford whilst Whitney remains rooted to the foundations of the Vic, wearing her clothes, assuming the role Linda would have played had she still been around, and lusting after Mick. Once again, she scoffs at the idea of being attracted to her ex's father, but the truth is that she is. She's snogged him, and she's been seen.

Hearing that Lauren is feeling bored in her relationship with Steven, Whitney has an instant suggestion about how she might beef up her love life. She suggests getting the Beale house to themselves, buying some leopard-print knickers and an edible bra and having some sex games - only a slut like Whitney would think of things like that. Lauren's boredom, it seems, stems from Steven's practicality - he's always "saving" for something - saving for Christmas, saving for a holiday, in short, acting like an adult. Lauren lives, rent-free, in the Beale household. She left England with one Beale brother and returned with another. She has babysitting on tap, either from Stacey or from Ian and Jane, and she's never satisfied.

However, she acts upon Whitney's suggestion, rushing Ian and Jane out of the house, dressing provocatively and serving Steven chocolate, chili sauce and avocado, all alleged aphrodisiacs, planting herself firmly on Steven's lap ad stuffing his mouth with chilis.

But wait ... something's not right here. When Lauren informed Peter that they had the house to themselves during lunchtime, Peter's smile at the thought of being alone with Lauren was rather on the wan side. When she attempts her cack-handed seduction, he's put off by the fierceness of the chilis, not once, but twice; and by the time he's finished de-toxing the Beale kitchen in order to accommodate Ian's change in lifestyle, the moment is gone for Lauren.

I think there's another reason for Steven's lack of sexual ardour, and I've been wondering when TPTB would get around to addressing the hints at problems Lauren's been having in her relationship with Steven. 

He's gay.

I get it that Steven desperately wants to conform to what he perceives as normality in Ian's little empire and world. He works diligently, after getting caught embezzling, in Ian's restaurant. Where he originally had debts of his own which were chasing him out of New Zealand, he managed to pursuade Jane that he was paying off Peter's irresponsible debts. He's there to act as Ian's chauffeur, Ian's yes-man and a boon to his faux-granny, Kathy. He literally throws himself into being a Beale, and when he's not doing that, he's walking ten steps behind Lauren, acting as her unofficial baby-carrier. Steven craves acceptance, full acceptance into Ian's world as Ian's heir, even if that means assuming Peter's life, his position, his girlfriend, and his child. In fact, he wants to be Louis's dad - note: he wants to be the father of his brother's child, when he could easily have a child with Lauren, himself.

Except that Steven is gay. That much was established when he was on the Square the last time in 2008. Yet apart from a smoldering look exchanged with Johnny Carter when Steven first returned, our lad's been presenting himself as 100% het.

Or is he?

There's trouble in paradise, but I wonder how long it will be before this storyline is presented full-throttal - probably not until they've got around to re-casting Peter Beale.

Ian Beale's Health Issue Becomes a Sitcom. Really, it does, and not only was this a pathetic ending to something that could have been a timely and important storyline, it simply reverted to being all about what Ian has eventually become - the latest in a long line of sad, fat clowns in the show.

From the moment Ian found out the nature of his ailment, when he erupted in joy in the GP's office, much to her horror and failure to understand his reaction, to what is probably the eventual end of this storyline, it simply became a bad, unfunny sitcom. All that was missing was the canned laughter.

When you walk into your doctor's surgery, convinced that you have cancer, hearing that it's anything less than that is a boon and a blessing.

Ian milks the moment for all it's worth, summoning his immediate family, in tears, to the restaurant kitchen in order to share his news. He starts off ominously, by saying that he's going to need all their help and support in the coming months ... because he hasn't much time left, immediately throwing Jane and Kathy, understandably, into paroxsyms of emotion. 

It's then that he qualifies his remark. He won't have much time left ... unless he changes his diet and exercise regime because diabetes type II is a very dangerous condition (having learned from the doctor that this could cause blindness, amputation and coma). 

When Jane is visibly relieved that he's "only diabetic," Ian waxes lyrical about being humbled by Jane's struggle to walk again, and he's taking a leaf out of her book in asking for help in his struggle to prevent an onset of diabetes, which is when the penny drops for Steven and Kathy - that Ian doesn't really have diabetes ... yet, which - as Kathy points out - it doesn't even equate with Jane's problem, and diabetes type II is usually caused by lifestyle, and Ian can't even fathom why he's managed to get into the high risk category of potential sufferer. 

So he doesn't really have diabetes, but just to make sure he doesn't contract the condition, the entire house and the family have to be de-toxed of offensive sugar-filled sweets. Are we about to see Ian being tempted, sneaking the odd bar of chocolate and the fizzy drink here and there?

It's turned into a sitcom, even the ending of which entailed Steven ridding the house of assorted forbidden food, most of which belonged to Lauren, whilst Jane blissfully looks online for a gym posh enough for Ian to attend. I guess another set is in order.

I Blame the Parents: Carmel and the Fowlers. As much as this abysmally long storyline is about bullying of various sorts and the social pressure to conform to a norm that's anything but normal, it's also about the parents of the kids in question, and it offers a brilliant study of the odious Carmel, who makes sure everything is always, only, all about her.

She insures that she has to be the centre of attention, and this time it backfired, and she got exactly what she deserved.

It's no wonder Shakil has grown up as lazy, ineffectual and entitled as he has. His poor excuse for having sent the nude photo to Rebecca was simply that this was something that "everybody" does, when that really wasn't the reason. Shakil was using this as a ploy to get Rebecca to have sex with him, even calling her frigid when she refused to respond in kind with a like photo.

I'm surprised that she didn't realise that, although she deleted the photos she took of herself, that they wouldn't still be stored on the hard drive of the Smartphone. Jay was at pains to delete the photos of Star/Linzi, which she sent him, but the authorities found them anyway. What's stupid on Rebecca's part is deleting the photos of herself, which weren't sent, yet keeping Shakil's photo on her phone.

Carmel has raised at least two selfish, self-centred, self-absorbed sons. It seems that the only son who hasn't been affected by her neediness is Darius, and he's half a world away. She puts herself out as a servant to Shakil, even making ridiculous excuses for him to the Fowlers in that monumental argument by saying that Shakil was beside himself and very sensitive. Shakil's entire reaction to this situation, apart from thumping Keegan, is merely to shrug his shoulders.

Carmel's been playing Stacey, and she's been allowing her to do so - the "gran" days and taking Arthur to baby yoga. She clearly planned on keeping him for more than the hour of yoga, because she had broadcast to Denise that she'd have Arthur with her when she arranged to spend the afternoon with Denise, basically being a community busybody. It was a calculated plan to pinch minutes and hours and eventually days with this child because she thinks she has a right to that.

She doesn't.

The child has Martin Fowler's surname. Kush relinquished any responsibility, willingly, after Tamwar's extensive home truths about his character. Actually, I still think Kush is grieving Zair, in much the same way Jack grieved James and wanted nothing to do with Ricky for years. The accusation Martin leveled at him was true - Kush "couldn't keep it in his pants." He was engaged to Shabnam at the time he slept with Stacey, whose behaviour may or may not have been down to her bi-polar syndrome. Until she realised how much Martin supported her and her children during her extreme illness, she treated him like a piece of shit, and that behaviour, as well, was insupportable.

I also wasn't comfortable with the way she seemed to deflect any responsibility for not allowing Carmel to associate with Arthur as Martin's decision. If Stacey didn't agree with that, she's strong enough to state her case as to why Martin shouldn't pin blame on Carmel for this, but I actually think Martin was in the right in this instance.

Carmel is an appalling mother and a poor enough role model for all of her sons. She has a way of imposing herself on them and any of their relationships, making herself the centre of what shouldn't be her universe. Shabnam's and Kush's flat was dominated by a huge picture of Kush and Carmel on the mantlepiece. Carmel pushed relentlessly for Kush to tell Shabnam about Arthur, irregardless of the fact that Shabnam was recovering from an emotionally draining stillbirth. And when she was sidelined from interfering in their marriage, she sought solace by stalking Masood as a fuckbuddy, and pursued him, relentlessly, doggedly and drunkenly, even after Kush's marriage had ended.

It's easy to see how Kush became the sexual predator that he was for awhile - preying on vulnerable women for sexual favours. Even Carmel wondered, when she learned of Shabnam's pregnancy, if Kush were strong enough to assume responsibility for a child. He preyed on three vulnerable women, tapping into their particular vulnerabilities - Shabnam's guilt at abandoning her daughter, Stacey's bi-polar syndrome and Nancy's epilepsy and her family difficulties. After the death of his first wife, he even used that death as a casual chat-up line for sympathy one night stands with nameless women.

In the midst of the argument, it transpires that Kush had known about Shakil's pictures all along. I remember his advice at the time was half-hearted and hesitant, urging Shakil to actually talk to Rebecca, when talking to his victims was something Kush couldn't do, himself.

His argument with Carmel after the Fowler brawl only served to emphasize the real reason behind Carmel's insinuations into getting to see Arthur; in the heat of the moment, she exclaimed what she really felt - that the Kazemis should have the child, that he should be with his real father and away from a mother with mental issues. Because that's all she's ever wanted. And that was her aim. Remember how she stalked Stacey when Stacey was in the throes of psychosis just to see the baby, how she barged in and sidelined Martin when Stacey and Martin agreed to let Kush have access.

At least Kush has a conscience, however. I think he's felt guilt about the way he betrayed Martin all along - the pitiful attempts he made at friendship, literally begging to go to their wedding and the concerted effort he's made to stay out of Arthur's life is a testament to him as a person. In fact, he warned Carmel to stay away from Arthur. More than anything, he knew what she would do.

It's interesting that he's still attracted to Denise, a woman some 18 years his senior. Denise was wrong when she told him that she made a choice to give up her child, whilst Kush had no choice. Kush had a choice. Stacey and Martin were allowing him access; it was Kush who chose to step aside. I think the loss of Zair and this experience, especially him realising how obsessive Carmel is, has soured him on the idea of parenthood at all, and maybe he feels safer in the arms of an older woman.

Or maybe he's just another Oedipal male on the show. For all Saint Denise is being supportive of the "good people" Kazemis at the moment, you just know that the shit will hit the fan the moment Denise and Kush begin again a sexual relationship, and Carmel finds out about it.

As for the Fowlers and Rebecca, I feel for Martin. As he explained to Rebecca, he's more confused than angry. She needs to stop curling up and looking tragic and tell him and everyone why she took those pictures of herself, even if it means Martin has it out again with the Kazemis - that Shakil was encouraging her to send him pictures of herself, as a means of pressuring her into having sex. She also needs to come clean, at least to Martin, about Louise nicking her phone at the behest of Sniggle and Snaggle; and Martin does, indeed, need to tell Sonia. Sonia has a right to know about this, irregardless of what Rebecca and Stacey think. 

And as for Rebecca telling Martin that those pictures were "her business," sorry, love, but you're wrong. I would imagine that Martin paid for that Smartphone and he probably pays for her contract. He feeds, clothes and provides a roof for her. As long as he's doing that, and she's dependent on him, those pictures are, indeed, his business. Even Tina knew that nude pictures of anyone under the age of 18 is considered to be child pornography, and she told Rebecca as such. This is why Social Services were called on to make a snap assessment of Martin and Stacey. If they deemed this household was, in any way, unsafe, Arthur and Lily could be taken into care.

I hope, as she sits, tragically in her room, she has time to think about how this stupid act has imploded upon her life. Martin still doesn't know that she slept with Prestonovich, another secret the deplorable Michelle is keeping from him. I certainly hope the sex Rebecca's had with both those twits was worth it.

Kudos to Martin for calling Shakil "Top Knot.".

I Blame the Parents: Widdle Mick and the Carters. So Linda Henry's off for three months, which - I assume - is why this storyline eventually reached the outcome it did. More importantly, this entire escapade has simply proven that the weakest link in the Carter dynamic is the Little Prince, himself, Mick.

Mick, the hunter-gatherer family man, the paterfamilias, who presented himself as the head of the household, a role model for his sons and a fount of wisdom for his daughter, the man who had never cheated on the partner with whom he'd shared a life since they were kids, the pillar of strength ... is a sham. He's no better than the son he drove away. In fact, he's worse. After months of constantly telling his son, who suffered from clinical depression, to "man up," Mick, himself, is unable to man up to the responsibility which goes along with having his name as the main licencee over the door of the Vic.

He cries, he drinks, he cries some more, he frets and worries, he makes unrealistic assumptions about his fate in the most Micawberish of fasions ... and in the end, he allows his mother to take the rap and serve time for him.

Three years ago, when Mick accompanied Linda to the police station to give her statement about her rape, he ran out of the place in terror. When Linda found him, he wept and told her she was the strongest person he knew, far stronger than he. Linda took that on board, filed the admission away, and carried on feeding Mick's ego, watched as he sneaked around on her to see and spend time with Shirley, who bad-mouthed Linda at every opportunity she found in defence of Dean's innocence. 

Two of Mick's four children have found out the hard way that if they wish to succeed in life, they have to do so well away from Mick. Mick viewed his oldest son as weak, so weak he didn't deserve the slut of a wife whom Mick reveres as an angel. Now Lee is someplace else, and his ex- is ensconced in the Vic, giving herself airs, wearing Linda's clothes, making lustful eyes at Mick and assuming the moral high ground when her motives are questioned. As much as she protests that she does, Whitney does not see Mick as a father figure. 

Anything but.

Mick's tearful admission, encouraged by Shirley, that he misses Linda, tacitly acknowledging the lies he's told her and the secrets he's kept from her regarding everything from Lee to the pub, is a sign of his weakness, that he's failed her. He's failed her in another way as well. He's filed away the deep-throated snog he gave Whitney on the night of the bus crash, the snog that was witnessed by Denise. When Linda does return, how is she going to consider the fact that her son is exiled from his family, whilst his ex-, who has form in having pursued Mick before, remains living in the Vic, telling herself that she's part and parcel of the Carters, when she has no real attachment to them at all.

As much as Mick reminds himself and others that his inclusion of Whitney in the Carter dynamic is as much as what Elaine did for him simply doesn't hold water. Mick was the father of Elaine's grandchildren. There are now no ties to the Carters for Whitney.

Shirley sought to save Mick from prison as an example that she was stepping up to the plate like any parent and making a sacrifice for her child, but Tina wasn't far off wrong as well in surmising that a stint in prison - especially when everyone thought that she'd be serving about three weeks of a six-week sentence - would be a break from being nagged by Tina in helping with Sylvie.

Tina has been the one family member to come out of this entire brouhaha with dignity. She's putting looking after her mother before a lot of things in her life, especially her job at the café; but all anyone could do, especially Whitney, who had no right, was rail at Tina when she dared to wonder aloud who would help with Sylvie. For all Mick promised that they would all pitch in, "they" refers to himself, Princess Whitney and Johnny, and the only one of that triumvirate who's shown any compassion for Sylvie has been Johnny, so I suppose any pretensions he might have to his law exams will fall by the wayside.

So Mick lives to serve another drink, but all the repair work on the Vic has yet to be finished. And Shirley gets hammered with a three-month sentence for perverting the course of justice. At least, they get spared a fine. 

The appearance of Honey and Billy, almost randomly, right about the time Mick was forced to admit to the clientele that Shirley had to go to prison, was genuinely amusing, especially the bit where both Billy and Honey found it surprising that Shirley had never been in prison before, when they were sure she had. 

I was sure she had as well, although she never openly admitted it. In 2008, when Dean was being sentenced, she spent a fair amount of time boning him up on prison slang and prison body language, like someone who'd learned the jargon on the inside, and she implied, without directly saying so, that she had served time. There are so many phantom years of Shirley's life spent away from her children that haven't yet been retconned, that I think at that time, under Santer, there was a prison stint to be revealed.

Without Shirley's eagle eye, there's no one to keep Whitney's machinations in check, and Mick is feeling lonely and vulnerable. I still say they'll sleep together, and that he'll run a mile in cowardice after the deed, shocked deplorably that he'd cheat on Linda.

The fall of Mick Carter and the exposé of him as a weak, simpering, child of a man has been interesting to watch, and it's also been proof positive that Whitney never loved Lee. Mick displays much of the same depressive qualiities that Lee displayed, yet they garnered only her contempt, whilst she wants to smother Mick with love and affection.

A Linda Carter bitch-slap is in order.

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