Pick of the week
Making Families Happy Tuesday, 8.30pm, ABC “All happy families are alike; each unhappy family is unhappy in its own way,” Tolstoy wrote. Never truer than here, in Making Families Happy, a three-part series beginning this week. Clinical psychologist John Aiken ( Making Couples Happy) and child and family psychologist Clare Rowe (both pictured) try to assist three Australian families — the Camerons, the Watsons and the McDonalds — who are struggling. The approach here seems to be fairly conventional psychology, but with a novel happiness scoring system to measure each family’s progress, plus the liberal use of annoying buzzwords (“buy-in”, “going forward” and “getting on board”). It took a good half-hour to persuade me that this would not be run-of-the-mill reality TV-style misery exploitation, but it seems to be sincere. Some of it, though, makes deeply uncomfortable viewing, particularly when the children record video messages to their parents, saying things that upset them that they haven’t been able to say in person. Behaviour such as swearing and confiding business worries have deeply wounded the respective children, more than their parents may have guessed. (Spoiler alert: there’s no guarantee all the families will remain intact.) It’s a bit like a real-life version of HBO’s excellent series In Treatment with Gabriel Byrne. Human weakness continues to make terribly interesting TV.