‘How the other half live’ fails to tackle real issues

From the makers of ‘Secret Millionaire’, ‘How the other half live’ is Channel 4’s new program dealing with poverty in the UK. Each week a rich family looks at the life of a poor family and at the end of the program gives a certain amount of money or ‘sponsorship’ to that family.

The makers of  ‘How the other half live‘ may have had the best intentions in the world with this program, asking the viewer to explore the gap between rich and poor, highlighting the poverty that exists in UK and encouraging people to be as generous with those who need help in this country as they are with those abroad, but it is still, as Keith Watson put it in the Metro  ‘patronising‘ and astonishingly contrived.

Instead of looking at the general picture of poverty in this country it focuses on a handful of ‘lucky’ people who are to become the benefactors of a handful of wealthy patrons. This view makes each episode an almost Dickensian style story of the hopeless poor being rescued by the good-hearted rich.

Having a nice easy solution at the end of each program, where a single familie’s problems are solved by a cheque book, actually masks the real issue of the thousands of other families who continue to live in poverty. It also fosters the idea that poverty is a personal issue to be solved by wealthy individuals rather than a societal issue to be dealt with by all.

What do you think?

Are these programs helping or hindering those in poverty?

What is wrong with rich people adopting poor families?

To find out about Spectacle’s Poverty and the media project please visit our Project Page

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2 thoughts on “‘How the other half live’ fails to tackle real issues

  1. The whole concept of this show is appalling. I agree with Sinbin completely. In this terrible time of recession, when a massively growing number of working class people in this country are becoming ever poorer — mainly due to rich business people who only care about the ker-ching of profit rather than what people actually need — a show like this is simply straying people away from the real reasons behind poverty.

    I’m sure the poor families are delighted to be adopted by some rich bloke or woman due to their circumstances. But thats because they’re desperate, which shouldn’t be the case in the first place. Its frankly patronising to people to have to make themselves seem worthy to be given money to be comfortable. I’ll be boycotting this show for sure.

  2. ‘How the other half live’ ‘’aims to show just what it means to grow up in poverty in 21st Century Britain’’ and ‘’raises important questions about how we respond to the poverty on our own doorsteps’’, according to its makers. Only it fails to fulfil either of these objectives. Once again Channel 4 has succeeded in insulting its viewers’ intelligence. We are presented with inequality as though it were a fact of life, having no structural causes and with no relation between wealth and poverty. The poor family who are sponsored by the rich family are considered ‘lucky’ to be given the opportunity to escape poverty, as the Dickensian style handout they receive is the only way that they can possibly ascend the social hierarchy and begin to strive for the same extravagant wealth of the rich family, the seemingly positive new goal which the programme has provided them with. There is absolutely no information provided about the causes of inequality, nor the fact that it might actually be unfair and unnecessary. I totally agree with the above comments, but would add that I doubt the ‘’best intentions’’ of the programme makers which sinbin is kind enough to afford them.

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