Mt Druitt is where it all started. Special Broadcasting Services (SBS) network in association with Keo Films Australia has come up with one of the most controversial and highest rated documentary reality television shows in the recent times (SBS, 2015). With more than 800000 viewers, SBS came up with the cover story called “the portrayal of the lives of the residents” of Mount Druitt. Mount Druitt is a suburb located in the western part of Sydney. 43 km from the CBD, Mount Druitt is known for its residents going through high unemployment, drug use and problems with the law.
Just after the trailer was released, there had been huge outcries from the residents of Mount Druitt and especially from the stars of the show itself. These people felt that they have been deceived and were staged in negative light. For example, one of the central characters of the show Peta condemned at the fact that all her community work was never shown on the screen (Galvin, 2015). Even during the portrayal of Corey, his character was only focussed on his drug issues and SBS cared too little about the bond he shared with his little son (Koziol, 2015). The fact that SBS decided to show only one version of the ‘truth’ has indeed created this stir and ultimately making the characters to look like ‘bogans’.
Though the show stirred up much of a controversy, SBS chief content officer Helen Kellie defends the show’s reputation by quoting that “the first episode has been edited out of respect” after it was screened to some of the participants. Adding to their defence, one of the Federal MPs, Ed Husic (AAP, 2015) commended the show for shinning the light on people who are less fortunate. And so the list goes on.
Well this is not the first time the world is experiencing something like this. There are still so many other creative content around us that goes through mixed reviews. After knowing more about the show (I have not watched it though), what I realise is that the filmmakers have indeed depicted the subjects and the community in the way, only they wanted to show. It is merely a stereotypical approach towards this particular section of the society. What interested me more than anything was actually my own intuition about SBS’s original plan.
Serving the broadcasting industry for these many years, a company like SBS should be able to judge the audience response with great accuracy prior to any show. But I wondered how come the trailer has create so much controversy and the whole nation ends up speaking and tweeting about this reality show. I very much believe that SBS originally saw this coming, at least to a moderate extent. When SBS said it modified the first episode according to the viewers’ response, I guess this was still part of the plan. Firstly they create a the most cult trailer and make all heads turn to them, and then they say they are not going to show ‘some stuff’ anymore? Well, they have already won the game. Who is not interested in controversies? I am a great fan of it. In my opinion, feud and controversy are the most interesting elements of any reality show in the world. The bottom line is, you wanted more viewers, you achieved it.
Galvin, N. (2015). SBS show Struggle Street: Why you should watch tonight.The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 6 June 2015, from http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/sbs-show-struggle-street-why-you-should-watch-tonight-20150513-gh0s16.html
News,. (2015). SBS series Struggle Street sparks debate in Mt Druitt. Retrieved 26 June 2015, from http://www.sbs.com.au/news/article/2015/05/07/sbs-series-struggle-street-sparks-debate-mt-druitt
Koziol, M. (2015). Struggle Street: What happened to ice addict Corey?. The Sydney Morning Herald. Retrieved 26 June 2015, from http://www.smh.com.au/entertainment/tv-and-radio/struggle-street-what-happened-to-ice-addict-corey-20150514-gh1964.html
TheAustralian,. (2015). Struggle Street was respectful: viewers. Retrieved 26 June 2015, from http://www.theaustralian.com.au/news/latest-news/struggle-street-was-respectful-viewers/story-fn3dxiwe-1227341797848