Four Corners: America’s Broken Dreams
Monday, 8.30pm, ABC1 This is the kind of documentary that opens your eyes and breaks your heart at the same time. While America’s poor bore the brunt of the subprime and credit crisis of 2008, it now seems to be the turn of the middle class to cop it sweet. This is what life looks like in an economic downturn in a country with no safety net. If you lose your job in America, you generally lose your house. The program follows people known as the half-homeless, those forced to sleep in their cars and in cheap motels after being thrown out of their homes. Meet Larry Dodson. He used to manage a huge customer service department but lost his job and house 21/ years ago. He has five children and now, like hundreds of others, he lives in a single motel room with his wife and two of his children. The three oldest children were placed in foster care after Larry was declared economically incapable of raising them. The motel room costs $US149 ($144) a week and Larry clears $US228 a week as a kind of doorman at nearby Disney World, where he stands on his feet all day, every day. This leaves $70 to buy food, clothing, medicine and anything else the family needs. In 21/ years Larry’s pay at Disney World has gone up from $7.40 an hour to $8.20. Apparently, 900 families now live in the cheap motels that surround the Florida theme park. Evictions from the motels are routine for non-payment of rent. The next stop is the street. Summers, Christopher Pyne, David Bradbury and Amanda Vanstone. Frankly it wasn’t the program’s best hour, though Tim Levinson (who performs as rapper Urthboy) and the brilliant Summers did their best. Too often the program became mired in predictable politics as MPs Pyne and Bradbury bashed away at their party’s respective lines. In an ominous sign, host Tony Jones offered no names for tonight’s program, though opposition legal affairs spokesman George Brandis and recently retired Labor Senate leader Chris Evans have since been confirmed. Jones says in coming weeks there will be a special series of political debates in light of the election being called so early, featuring cabinet ministers and other relevant opposition spokesmen and women. In other words, it will be parliamentary question time all over again, with Jones as the speaker. Great. Just what everyone needs right now — more combative political discourse. good friends’’ Ali and Samuel as they prepare, shop, cook and serve a three-course meal for their fellow contestants and the judges. Curiously, they don’t get to eat. Instead they must stand watching, like the downstairs crew of Downton Abbey, as their rivals pop food the couple has slaved over into their mouths. Curious expressions as rivals masticate must be interpreted. Of course these might be signs of food passing over a wobbly tooth, or the vacuousness of people not capable of any sort of expression other than a kind of inner reverie. Or perhaps they are the masks of rivals unwilling to admit to pleasure. For all its predictability and a near total lack of originality, My Kitchen Rules is mysteriously compelling. Tune in for a few minutes if only to see how difficult it is to turn off.