Channel 4 has long been at the forefront of cutting edge programming. From ‘Brookside’ breaking soap boundaries to gritty, real and socially aware dramas such as ‘Queer as Folk’. The channel takes pride in its forward-thinking and unconventional programming, and aims to challenge social perceptions. Its latest offering? ‘Meet the Magoons’ (Friday, 9:30PM), a sitcom about a Hindu family that run a curry house in Scotland. Full marks for attempting something a bit different, then. Problem is, there was nothing original about this comedy.
Firstly, the characters were so cliched and obvious that I wouldn’t be surprised if they were created by GCSE media students. From the brother who has a post-modern attitude to his religion (“it’s just superstition”) to the brother who wears his dual-culture proudly on his sleeve, with a kilt around his waist and a turban on his head. It smacked completely of a desperate attempt to show how diverse Hindu culture is: it didn’t work. The whole thing seemed completely contrived. The sheer number of curses provides ample proof of this. Every line was littered with a 4-letter word. The joke died before the opening titles.
Even the filming and style of the programme was completely unoriginal. It shamelessly stole its style from Teachers, with its constant soundtrack and long shots of the city. The thing is, Teachers was so great because it was original; you can take the ideas but you can’t take the originality with it. Teachers was also filmed with a panache that made it a joy to watch. The producers here couldn’t even manage that. At one point, a huge microphone entered to top of the screen. Great first impression.
To top this off, there was no real sense of location and we could never be expected to believe that the characters were a real family. For a start their accents were all over the place, with just 2 of the brothers actually sounding Scottish. Where did the other 2 grow up? England and Wales.
The programme did have some merit however. The father character, although fitting the archetypal ‘Hindu father’ mould, provided a few laughs. Yet, these sparce moments of laughter were soured by the constant homophobic language. It may just have been light banter, but it was delivered without any hint of irony or good humour that it just came across as downright offensive. From the running ‘hello sailor’ joke to the ‘he looks like a f****** poofter’ remark, the programme lost all credit for attempting to be different. For something that was desperate to break some social barriers, it seemed to try incredibly hard to put more up. It failed on both counts.