The Tower: Social realism or stereotyping

The Tower is a documentary TV series,  recently broadcast on BBC1, which claims to give an accurate portrayal of the social issues on the Aragon Tower on the Pepys estate. The Tower has been sold to private developers Berkley Homes and the programme centres around  the contrast between the old and new residents.  Some have heralded this as an excellent of portrayal the deep-seated social problems of large council estates, contrasting  the lives of local council tenants with a recent influx of wealthy home owners, to highlight the issues around ‘mixed development’. Others have claimed the program relies on old forms of stereotyping,  portraying the mass of council tenants as either brow-beaten victims, alcoholic drug -riddled junkies or violent criminals.

How accurate is The Tower portrayal of the Pepys Estate? Is it possible to make a popular TV show about social issues without using the most extreme examples? Is this sort of program useful to remind people that real problems do exist in these areas or does is simple make the problems worse? Can you show poverty in a bad light without showing poor people in a bad light.

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