Pick of the week

The Weekend Australian - Review - - Television | Free To Air -

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.

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