"Is all of Scotland like this?" said my intrepid viewing partner, sitting through this in order to make me feel less disturbingly alone.
"No," said I, with a biting sarcasm that was, of course, the reason she was watching with me in the first place, "Only the nice bits."
Yes, it's everyone's favourite reality TV show, "The Scheme", leading a one show rebellion against jollity and promoting what can only be described as a wilfully depressive existence. The show follows 6 families in Kilmarnock, all of whom seem to gravitate towards drugs and jail. And smoking. It may seem a minor point, but I don't think I saw anyone in the show who didn't smoke, which means it's lost its element of coolness, and has become disturbingly symptomatic of "living in a council house".
You see, it's really rather difficult to watch this show without being incredibly aware of your own elitism. It almost exists solely to remind people of our eternal class system, fuelled by torrid existences for youngsters on council estates who will either become adults on housing estates, or be in jail. Which is heartbreaking when you consider that they managed to find the world's single cutest child, and then go "She's going to be like all the rest of them, ahaha", displayed in an agonising realisation about 10 seconds after you meet her. "Aw, she's ADORABLE. And soon, she'll be on drugs or in prison!"
That said, there was the tale of one man, who rose against this, and, despite his drinking and jail sentences, became a rather inspirational turnaround tale. What depressed me (and him) is that he could see his kids going down the same route and he couldn't save them. His eldest was shipped off to prison pretty early on (With the ensuing father-son bonding session on how to smuggle tobacco around in prison), and another (an absolute wanker called Chris) doing battle with drug-dealers over debt and smashing up people's cars. I have never felt more sorry for anyone in my existence, he turned his life around and was trying to help his kids, and they're just unrelentingly stupid.
He's a Professor at the University of Life (Graduating from the School of Hard Knocks with honours) trying to bestow his wisdom onto uncaring students who appear to turn up to about half the lectures drunk, then escape through a window (To explain the relevance of that, at one point, Chris flees the police through a window. They weren't after him, but my GOD, he couldn't scream "Guilty as sin" any harder if he walked into a police station weeping and saying "I never meant to kill him", whilst holding a bloodied knife). Fortunately, his daughter seems in good shape, which pleased me delightfully.
Another note I garnered from watching this show. All of the people have really nice things. The only one I could describe as living with bad things was Marvin, and even then, he had a lovely dog. We had the story of Kay, a former factory worker, now unemployed (And taking in stray homeless people like most people would pick up milk on their way home) who, without any discernible means of income, managed to furnish her house with two televisions about the same size as my bed, a loft conversion and a couple of cars. I'm not saying "There's something fishy there" or "Blimey, benefits are a bit generous", just surprised.
All in all, then, if you want to be reminded there is a very discernible class system in the UK, snuggle down with a mug of nice, warm cocoa and watch this, or go to McDonalds (Any McDonalds) on a Saturday afternoon, around four. Don't touch anything, the vast array of man-made fibres will give you a colossal static shock, but just look and go "Ah yes. The class system in action.". In all honesty, this show will probably be used as evidence of a class system in 21st century Britain in much the same way as the Black Book Exchequer (1186 AD) is used as evidence for Feudalism in 12th century England, but if you feel you can tolerate this, and can either translate the accents (I sometimes feel as though the signer for the deaf would just look at the camera with a bemused puzzlement indicating that your guess is as good as his) or have access to subtitles, then the show is well worth watching.