Representation All dramas, whether they are TV, stage or radio dramas, represent different people and groups in different ways. They either represent people in a stereotypical way that does not challenge perceptions of them or they offer an alternative view of people. Representation is important because, for dramas to relate to their target audiences, listeners must feel empathy for the characters and their situation. To feel empathy, we tend to relate to people who are like us. Here are two radio dramas that represent people in different ways: The Archers (Episode: 14/10/12)
Uphold or defy conventions?
Example(s) and why
Pip, the university student, obsessed with fashion and shopping, could be seen as a typical female student. She has just been shopping, saying ‘you know how tempting the shops are once you get there’. She also says ‘they’re [the shops] starting to get all the party stuff in now’. Pip captures the essence of what it supposedly means to be young (‘you’re only young once’).
Emma, whilst speaking to Pip, is
portrayed as a typical middle‐aged woman in many ways. She is busy, particularly with housework and appears to have little time for herself. When Pip asks about why she has been left ‘on Guiana pig duty’ whilst the rest of the family are out, Emma responds ‘I’ve got nothing better to do apart from the ironing’. The characters of Pip and Emma contrast; Emma clearly dreams of being care‐free and young again, particularly when Pip is showing her the clothes that she has bought. Kenton
Kenton is portrayed in this episode as impatient and wanting answers quickly e.g. he says ‘she’s [Fallon] had all weekend to think about it so what’s taken her so long?’ Kenton’s relationship with partner Jolene is in many ways a typical one; they disagree (although not argue) and Jolene plays the role of the ‘behind every great man there’s a great woman’ type of character (see below).
The first thing you notice about Jolene (Kenton’s partner) is her typical ’farmer’ accent. The Archers makes good use of accents to help set the location of the drama in the countryside. Jolene and her daughter Fallon are close but Fallon is independent ‐ typical of a mother and grown‐up daughter relationship. Fallon tells her mother that she is going for the job before Kenton. In this episode, Jolene is portrayed as a little bit bossy when she tells Kenton to wash the bar.
Fallon, in this episode of The Archers, is portrayed (mainly by the other characters) as perhaps having narrow life experience because she has only ever worked for the same place. I think this is a typical representation of a young person in a small community because often they do not move far away from where they grew up.
In conclusion for The Archers, it relies heavily on stereotypical representations of people, from their accents to their attitudes towards life. It does not usually defy conventions. However this is not necessarily a bad thing as such because it is part of what makes it entertaining! The Wire, ‘Everything Between Us’ (Episode: 13/10/12. First 15 minutes of the episode, excluding the play write talking about the play)
Uphold or defy conventions? Uphold and defy
Example(s) and why
I think the character of Teeni both upholds and defies conventions. Uphold – Teeni, who is Sandra’s younger sister, is Irish (the listener immediately knows from her strong accent). She has just attacked a black South African
spokesperson who grew up under apartheid at the start of the play, clearly showing her prejudices and that the ‘troubles’ still remain. She is also prejudiced against Jews and Catholics, saying New York was ‘like Belfast, only bigger… and lots more Catholics!’ This paints the Irish as unable to move on from the past. Teeni is also clearly troubled and had a drink problem in the past (another Irish stereotype). The fact that she has been estranged from her sister Sandra suggests her struggled past and represents the divides in Ireland even in families. Compared to her sister, Teeni plays the part of the less‐ intelligent, more troublesome younger sibling. Defy – I think the fact that Teeni has been traveling, despite it being somewhat unplanned and unannounced, is a sign that she is not as narrow‐minded as she is made out to be. Whilst she has prejudices, underneath that there appears to be a desire to see the world. Sandra
Teeni’s sister Sandra is in the government and this is a stark contrast to Teeni who has no job. Sandra defies conventions because she is trying to build peace in Northern Ireland (unlike Teeni) through being part of the new ‘Truth and Reconciliation Commission’. Sandra is the more mature, older sibling and I think that this is a typical
representation of the relationship between siblings and in this area she upholds the convention. In conclusion, The Wire is deliberately a gritty, quite controversial, thought provoking radio drama; the stark contrast between the two characters re‐enforces this. The drama is trying to make a point: whilst there is peace in Ireland (as shown by Sandra) but there are some members of the community (like Teeni) who are struggling to move on. Presumably, Sandra and Teeni both grew up in the same home and that they are so different makes the point that sometimes we must make choices about how we want to behave.