Does TV portray debt in a positive manner?

There have been many references to debt recently on the TV, from fictional portrayals in the soaps to documentaries, but does this exposure help or hinder people who find themselves in debt? Do these stories scare people?  Do they encourage people to get the help they need or push them further into debt?

Bailiffs and bankruptcy in the Square

In a recent episode of EastEnders it started well for character Sonia who attempted to start her own business to help her mum, Carol, and sister, Bianca, get out of debt. An option which perhaps looked easy, watching it on BBC1, but the reality is that this clearly would not be possible for most people in this situation.

Unfortunately the family turns to drug dealing to sort out their debts – an extreme way of solving debt problems and obviously not an option.  However, that is what the producers at EastEnders decided to offer its viewers as an alternative to getting help – even if it is fictional.

Surely it would have been much more positive to show a character actually getting the correct debt advice and exploring options that are much more feasible?

Debt problems in Weatherfield

Switch over to ITV where Coronation Street ran a story in which the Windass/Armstrong family faced financial ruin after Owen receives a bankruptcy petition. I can only imagine if you are in debt and switch on to watch this programme, seeing goods being taken away will just frighten you even more.

I am well aware that some members of the public are faced with this kind of problem and it is usually when the correct information and advice has not been sought out.  Surely a more positive outcome would have helped?

In The Club

Sitting down with my evening cup of tea and tuning into the new series “In the Club” last night, I see this poor character Rik who was made redundant 5 months ago, who had not told his pregnant wife and was in serious debt. Rik then took his kids out for a pizza and ended up robbing a bank.

Throughout this section in the programme I waited with baited breath for his wife’s character to ask the question: “Did you not get help?” “Did you contact anyone? CAB? Debt Resolution company?” but this simply did not happen.

And the reality shows?

BBC One’s hit new reality show “The Sheriffs are Coming” was the winner of the Best Daytime Programme at the Broadcast Awards 2014.  The programme follows high court enforcement officers who attempt to recover money on behalf of their clients. These clients have won court judgements but have still not received their payment.

I really don’t know how I feel about this programme. I think that it proves that you cannot ignore court judgements, but I fail to understand why again no advice is given to these people (or sought by them), pointing them in the right direction.

Is a little more sympathy needed for people in debt?

Whilst the saying “any publicity is good publicity” may be true, more sympathy for the people in debt who watch these programmes is needed. Surely a recommendation in the credits and a verbal message is needed.

What do you think? Is debt portrayed negatively or positively in today’s media? Please share your views below in comment box.

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