Is it guilt free?

Sometimes I take the opportunity to make some serious points, through these messages, and those messages can be forthright and, then again, sometimes a little more subtle. And, on other occasions, I can be more frivolous – watch out for the Milton Jones one liners. This week I’m not sure what this will be as I am apprehensively awaiting the final episode of the year’s Traitors series. And whilst I’m on it, when did a series become a season? And how can a season be 8-10 episodes which run over a couple of weeks? Maybe I should let it go and just be less bothered.

Traitors has our house held firmly in its icy grip. It has linked the mid-youth (my wife and me) with the real-youth (the twenty somethings). We have all become engrossed in the drama of murders and banishments; crossing and double-crossing. I’m even receiving cut and paste updates from the platform formally known as Twitter (something I choose not to access myself). Just this morning I woke to a message from one of the twenty somethings about Jazatha Christie – it would make sense to those who were up-to-date with the events. I won’t say any more about the characters, you might just be on ‘catch-up’ or in case you choose to dip your toe, at a later date, into this televisual treat.

The not so sure bit, whether it is frivolous to discuss the Traitors or not, might be more important. I am not sure whether we (I) should take some sort of pleasure from watching members of the public bite lumps out of each other for our delectation. To be fair, the contestants are rarely cruel, they bond amazingly well and are often very gracious when they are asked to leave (by murder or banishment), however I am not sure what it says about where we are at as a country to take some pleasure in this type of entertainment. It’s not quite bear-baiting but some might disagree and claim that it’s not far off. Individuals are targeted, cliques emerge and gossip is rife. What is this telling our children, young people, our nation?

When compared to other mainstream televisual phenomena, it’s not got the sweetness of Bake Off. Bake Off offers a vision of our country which has a very ‘olden days’ feel, almost Victorian or Edwardian, with a very twenty-first century cast of players (and it’s so much better for that) And, as I have written before, Bake Off shows us a country which we all could be proud of and which most of us do (and would choose to) inhabit.

Traitors is different. The cast is certainly from a very contemporary Britain – great! But those old-fashioned values of honesty, openness and fair play aren’t in evidence that often. Should I take pleasure from that? I can only be settled with myself if I keep reminding myself of the ‘game’, that the contestants choose to play and that mostly the people are decent human beings. Can I just allow myself to wallow, luxuriate, in the exceptionalism? In the fact that this isn’t real life? And believe that the characters are just players; as we have had for centuries, through Shakespeare back to the Greek tragedies, if I’m allowed that. If I believe that I am watching a stage play under a different guise. If I see this an extreme and unrealistic magnification of the human condition. If this allows some of us to reflect upon our own behaviours; our interactions with others.  Maybe, just maybe, I could see this series as a force for good and I can watch with just the slightest of guiltiest feelings.

If you’ve not seen Traitors, give it a try. And then some of this might make sense. If not, or if you don’t get round to it then maybe this message won’t make much sense – no change there then?

‘Our doubts are traitors and make us lose the good we oft might win by fearing to attempt’. William Shakespeare

‘A traitor is everyone who does not agree with me’. George III

You don’t need to have a wider philosophical reason for finding some guilty pleasures, but it helps.